London prepares for US president

For Queen Elizabeth II, the arrival of US President Donald Trump, his family and his armored entourage today means a full day of ceremony and toasts. 

It’s a unique odd couple: A 93-year-old sovereign who has made a point of keeping her opinions to herself during her long reign is hosting a 72-year-old reality TV star-turned-president who tweets his uncensored thoughts daily to 60 million followers.

For Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s unflappable monarch, the arrival of US President Donald Trump, his family and his armored entourage today means a full day of ceremony and toasts topped by a magnificent banquet at Buckingham Palace. Yet beneath the pomp and ceremony, there are differences aplenty.

There will be a formal tea this afternoon hosted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla for Trump and first lady Melania Trump, which brings together a future king who has warned about the perils of climate change for years with a president who is actively dismantling US policies designed to slow global warming.

Deeply divisive

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic say the delayed state visit will celebrate the vaunted “special relationship” between Britain and the US. It was timed to coincide with ceremonies in Britain on Wednesday and in France on Thursday marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Trump’s visit to Britain has been deeply divisive since May extended the invitation on behalf of the queen in an Oval Office visit in the first week of Trump’s administration. The move prompted street protests in Britain, an online petition signed by more than one million opposed to the idea and a debate in Parliament over whether Trump deserved the highest honor that Britain can bestow on a foreign leader.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Trump’s presidency is part of a sinister worldwide trend. He said Trump should not get red-carpet treatment.

“President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Khan said. “The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years.”

Even before Trump was elected president, there was a highly charged debate in Britain’s parliament over whether to ban him from coming to the UK because of his comments about banning Muslims from entering the US. His visit to Britain last summer generated huge protests in London.

Special Reports