Donald Trump meets Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace

Huge protests are expected during the US President's three-day trip

US President Donald Trump was warmly welcomed to Britain on Monday by Queen Elizabeth II on the first of a three-day state visit set be dominated by controversy and ceremony.

The monarch met Mr Trump and his wife Melania at the doors of Buckingham Palace after he was escorted from his helicopter Marine One, which landed in the palace gardens, by the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall.

Shaking his hand with a smile, the queen watched as his arrival was heralded with a 41-gun salute and a private parade inside the gardens, where Mr Trump spoke to the guardsmen.

A ceremonial welcome commenced, including a private lunch and a guided tour of the royal collection, where he was showed US artefacts including letters and telegraphs relating to the queen’s parents' official visit to the US in 1939.

Later, he laid a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey and joined the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for tea at Clarence House.

His arrival was kept behind closed doors as protests took place across London.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt greeted President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Stansted Airport near London. Reuters
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt greeted President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Stansted Airport near London. Reuters

Outside the palace gates, police officers were forced to intervene when pro-Trump activists carrying British and US flags began remonstrating with a member of the public.

Behind all of the smiles and handshakes, it was revealed that Mr Trump had dropped private talks scheduled with Prime Minister Theresa May off the agenda.

The pair will still meet on Tuesday but with other ministers and senior officials.

Mr Trump’s earlier endorsed Boris Johnson’s bid to become the next leader of the Conservatives after Mrs May stood down, and his positive words on the success of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party in the European elections have been criticised.

Mr Farage had said he believed the government was trying to block him from meeting Mr Trump.

But at the weekend the president publicly said the pair, who were photographed together shortly after Mr Trump’s 2016 victory, were friends and that an encounter was on the cards.

It is also expected that the US leader might meet Mr Johnson, despite his resignation as foreign secretary last year.

The UK’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that the president’s comments on Mr Johnson and Mr Farage were “unacceptable interference” in British politics.

On Monday evening, Mr Corbyn, who had already refused to meet Mr Trump, announced he would speak at a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday against the state visit.

A Trump blimp will fly outside the British Parliament at the same time.

Mr Trump had already sparked controversy after firing off tweets criticising London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling him a "stone cold loser" and referring to his height.

His first day in the UK concluded with a formal dinner hosted by the Queen.

Mr Trump was treated to a four-course meal, including a steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse followed by a saddle of Windsor lamb, then strawberry sable with lemon verbena cream and a selection of assorted fresh fruit for dessert.

The royal banquet had more than 2,000 pieces of silver-gilt cutlery on the table and a toast to the queen.

"As we look to the future, I am confident that our common values and shared interests will continue to unite us," Queen Elizabeth said at the banquet, before toasting Mr Trump and his wife.

"Tonight we celebrate an alliance that has helped to ensure the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades, and which I believe will endure for many years to come."

Mr Trump praised the Queen And told the story of her efforts during the Second World War.

"That young mechanic was the future queen, a great, great woman," he said. "The bond between our nations was forever sealed in that great crusade.

"As we honour our shared victory and heritage we affirm the common values that will unite us long into the future – freedom, sovereignty, self determination, the rule of law and reverence for the rights given to us by almighty God."

The dinner was attended by Conservative Party leadership contenders Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove.

Mr Trump met Mr Hunt on the airport runway when he arrived.

Their brief conversation had involved an irate Mr Trump further criticising Mr Khan, who had likened his speech to that of the “fascists of the 20th century”, sparking the feud.

On Tuesday Mr Trump and Mrs May are expected to host a joint business breakfast at St James's Palace with industry leaders, then tour the Churchill war rooms beneath Whitehall.

Updated: June 4, 2019 01:31 AM


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