41-gun salutes and a Twitter tirade: Donald Trump arrives in UK - Kogonuso

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Jun 4, 2019

41-gun salutes and a Twitter tirade: Donald Trump arrives in UK

Donald Trump breezed into Britain by launching an attack on London’s mayor and berating so-called fake news before being honoured with a glittering banquet hosted by the Queen.

Buckingham Palace provided the sumptuous backdrop for the US president, who had long desired the endorsement of an official state visit, and took the opportunity to bring four of his five children with him.

At the white-tie-and-tiara affair for 170 guests in the grand ballroom, his daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany, and sons Donald Jnr and Eric joined politicians, including the prime minister, royals, dignitaries and business people.

Trump was seated between the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall, while the first lady, Melania Trump, was placed next to the Prince of Wales. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were also on the top table.

The three-day state visit had began, perhaps unsurprisingly, with controversy.

Shortly before Air Force One touched down at Stansted airport Trump launched a Twitter tirade against his old adversary Sadiq Khan, condemning the mayor of London as a “stone cold loser”, comments the mayor’s office rebuffed as “childish insults”.

However, by the time the president’s helicopter, Marine One, landed at Buckingham Palace for his long-desired ceremonial visit, he was wreathed in smiles, with his arrival marked by two 41-gun salutes, a guard of honour and a white-tie-and-tiara banquet.

More than 100 protesters demonstrated outside the gates of Buckingham Palace against the US president being handed “the red-carpet treatment” and more than 250,000 protesters are expected to take to London’s streets on Tuesday, when the Trump baby blimp is expected to appear once again.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who will address the protesters in London, tweeted: “Tomorrow’s protest against Donald Trump’s state visit is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he’s attacked in America, around the world and in our own country – including, just this morning, @SadiqKhan”.

The state visit, which is the 113th hosted by the Queen, brought together two dynasties, one ancient, one fledgling, as Trump combined the official visit with a family jaunt.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, a presidential adviser, watched from a palace balcony as the president and the first lady were greeted warmly by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on the palace lawn, with Trump holding on to Prince Charles’s hand for 10 seconds.

The president was then officially welcomed by the Queen on the palace steps where they shared a slightly awkward half handshake.

Accompanied by Charles, and to a medley of American service tunes played by the band of the Grenadier Guards, Trump inspected the guard of honour by the Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards. The first couple later joined the Queen, Charles and Camilla, Prince Harry and other royals for a private lunch, also attended by Ivanka and Kushner.

The Queen presented him with a first edition of The Second World War by Winston Churchill and a three-piece pen set bearing the royal cypher.

But on a tour of Royal Collection artefacts in the palace’s picture gallery, Trump was shown the pewter horse he gave the Queen on his last visit. Asked if he recognised it, he replied “no”, at which point Melania jumped in, saying: “Yes, this is one of ours.” Trump did better when he was shown a book of tartans opened at the yellow design of his Scottish Hebridean mother’s MacLeod clan. “That’s my tartan,” he said immediately.

At the banquet, Ivanka was seated between Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, and the Countess of Wessex, while Kushner was placed next to Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, and Princess Anne.

Prince Harry was absent from the dinner. Corbyn and the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Vince Cable, had already declined to attend.

Guests dined on a starter of steamed fillet of halibut followed by saddle of Welsh lamb and a strawberry sable dessert. Trump is teetotal, though the meal was accompanied by four wines – champagne, white, red, port – and water.

Six glasses were set for each guest, including a champagne glass for the toast when the Queen and Trump both referenced D-day and the shared sacrifices of both nations during the second world war. The Queen stressed a war legacy that had highlighted the importance of nations working together, but Trump’s emphasis was on how Britain had stood alone.

Referring to the Normandy landings, the Queen said: “As we face the new challenges of the 21st century, the anniversary of D-day reminds us of all that our countries have achieved together. After the shared sacrifices of the second world war, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure the horrors of conflict would never be repeated. While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard-won peace.”

In his response, Trump praised the Queen as “a great, great woman” who embodied “the spirit of dignity, duty and patriotism that beats proudly in every British heart”. He paid tribute to the leadership shown by the royal family during the war and said Britain had stood alone in the Blitz.

“In that dark hour, the people of this nation showed the world what it means to be British,” he said. “The courage of the United Kingdom’s sons and daughters ensured that your destiny would always remain in your own hands.”

As the guests rose for the toast, the president touched the Queen lightly on the back.

When he arrived in the country, the presidential plane was met at Stansted by the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Even as it was taxiing in, Trump was launching his broadside against Khan, who has criticised Britain rolling out the red carpet for the visit.

The president tweeted: “Sadiq Khan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.”

The president then appeared to use some downtime at the US ambassador’s residence to indulge another favourite pastime, venting his anger on Twitter on the topics of “fake news”, China, and the US broadcaster CNN. “Just arrived in the United Kingdom. The only problem is that CNN is the primary source of news available from the US,” he tweeted before condemning it as “All negative & so much Fake News”.

In the evening, he tweeted: “London part of trip is going really well. The Queen and the entire Royal family have been fantastic. The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong. Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our Country.

“Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them. Great love all around. Also, big Trade Deal is possible once UK gets rid of the shackles.”

Hastily offered by Theresa May after Trump’s inauguration, the state visit brings down the curtain on her troubled premiership. Trump was vocal before his visit in criticising her handling of Brexit.

Given both, there was no surprise when it emerged on Monday that there would be no formal one-to-one between the president and the prime minister. Instead, the two will meet alongside their aides on Tuesday. Asked whether the president had preferred to hold a one-to-one meeting, May’s spokesman said: “I’m sure the answer to that is no.”

Waving banners emblazoned with messages declaring the president was “evil”, scores of protesters blowing whistles and horns massed on a green outside the palace. Demonstrators, many of who were clutching signs urging people to “just say no” to the special relationship, chanted: “Donald Trump’s not welcome here.”

Outside Buckingham Palace, Weyman Bennett, 54, the co-convenor of Stand up to Racism, who helped organise the protest, said the state visit represented “an insult to people’s basic decent values” and should have been cancelled.

He added: “Sometimes you have to say to a bully they’re wrong and stand up for basic rights. He’s threatened nuclear war, he’s behaved like a boorish idiot, he doesn’t even respect basic diplomatic values.”

Before the banquet, the Trumps took tea at Clarence House with Charles and Camilla, and laid a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, accompanied by the Duke of York.

Trump’s visit culminates on Wednesday when he will join the Queen during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-day in Portsmouth. He will be escorted by May on a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms, from which Winston Churchill directed British forces during the second world war.
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