June 04, 2019 08:06
On his state visit to Britain, U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania are getting the royal treatment from Queen Elizabeth, including a state banquet.
The day of pageantry began with a Marine One landing on the Buckingham Palace gardens and a welcoming ceremony that included a 41-gun salute, and inspection of the Royal Guard of Honor.
After a private lunch with the queen, the president and the first lady toured the picture gallery of Buckingham Palace. The artifacts on display include an 18-century map of New York and a pewter horse statuette that the president gave Queen Elizabeth on his working visit last year.
The American delegation then drove through streets lined with British and American flags to Westminster Abbey where the president and Prince Charles laid wreaths at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, as part of the 75 year anniversary of D-Day.
◆ Trump Wades into Brexit Debate
The carefully calibrated pageantry was marred by Trump's remarks, even before he arrived at Buckingham Palace. Trump waded into diplomatic complications on the touchy subject of Britain's divorce from the European Union. He is publicly backing former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, who is resigning June 7th, just two days after Trump leaves Britain, after failing to negotiate a Brexit deal that parliament could ratify.
Trump told reporters before departing the White House late Sunday he may meet with Johnson and Brexit party politician Nigel Farage while he is in London, potentially creating an embarrassment to May. The U.S. president also called on Britain to leave the EU without a deal if Brussels refused to meet its demands.
◆ Britons Views on Trump
Britons views on Trump's remarks seem to fall along the same lines as to where they vote on Brexit. "Personally I view Boris Johnson as a little bit of a muppet," said Londoner Inigo Ackland. "So I understand why Trump will like someone like Boris Johnson."
Fellow London resident Sharon Wells says she has no problem with Trump's comments. Wells said "we probably should get our act together" but agrees with Trump that if a Brexit agreement cannot be reached, Britain should just leave without a deal and "just get on with it."
Trump's candor however is upsetting to some politicians including Labor MPs who are refusing to attend the state banquet in Trump's honor. But Londoner Dermot Smurfit said that Trump is "a breath of fresh air against politicians who generally are asked a question and never give an answer."
◆ 'Stone, Cold, Loser'
Trump also courted controversy prior to landing in Britain, with the president tweeting insults at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling him a "stone cold loser" who "has been foolishly 'nasty' to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom."
Trump likened Khan to New York mayor Bill de Blasio, his political opponent, "only shorter." Khan had written an opinion piece calling Trump a "global threat" and that welcoming him for a state visit is "un-British."
In a TV interview Khan said, "Friendship means candor. And I think we should be candid with the American president and say you know what we disagree with you on so many things."
The London mayor has also allowed the "Trump Baby" -- a giant inflatable depicting the president as an angry infant holding a cell phone -- to fly over London on Tuesday, as part of the massive protests being planned for the president's second day in Britain.
Trump's trip will also include D-Day commemoration ceremonies in both Britain and France, and a stop in Ireland.
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