Queen Elizabeth II hosts a welcome ceremony for US President Donald Trump at Buckingham Palace as he begins a three-day state visit to the UK. Video Credit: AFP

London: Britain rolled out the royal red carpet for Donald Trump on Monday but the pomp, pageantry and banquet with Queen Elizabeth looked set to be overshadowed by the US President’s views on Brexit, the UK’s next leader and a row over China’s Huawei.

Trump and his wife, Melania, were greeted by the 93-year-old monarch at Buckingham Palace at the start of a three-day state visit which sees him feted with the full force of royal ceremony: a formal dinner with the queen, tea with heir Prince Charles, and a tour of Westminster Abbey, coronation church of English monarchs for 1,000 years.

Spat with London Mayor

But beyond the theatre, the proudly unpredictable 45th US president is rocking the boat with the United States’ closest ally, whose political establishment has been in chaos for months over Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets US President Donald Trump
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets US President Donald Trump as he arrives for the Ceremonial Welcome at Buckingham Palace, in London, on June 3, 2019. Image Credit: REUTERS

As he was flying into the British capital, he reignited a feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, describing him as a “stone cold loser. Trump’s plane had not even touched down when he tweeted that Khan, who has been highly critical of the red-carpet welcome laid on for Trump, had done a “terrible job” running London.

The president called the mayor a “stone cold loser,” adding: “Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, (Bill) de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job — only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom,” he added. The state visit, promised by Prime Minister Theresa May back in January 2017 when she became the first foreign leader to meet him after he took office, is cast as a chance to celebrate Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States, boost trade links and reaffirm security cooperation.

Busy schedule

At Buckingham Palace, Melania, stood beside Elizabeth and Charles’s wife Camilla, while Charles and Trump inspected the guard. Trump had lunch with the queen before the monarch’s second son Prince Andrew accompanied him to Westminster Abbey where the president laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. The day culminated with a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace — where men wear white tie coats with tails and women evening gowns.

Unconventional visit

But away from the pageantry, Trump is set to make his trip the most unconventional state visit in recent British history. He has already waded far into Britain’s turbulent domestic politics, where more than a dozen candidates are vying to replace May, who announced last month she was quitting after failing to get her EU divorce deal through parliament.

A general view of the Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace
A general view of the Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace on the day of US President Donald Trump's arrival in London. Image Credit: AP

The president, who has regularly criticised May’s Brexit tactics, said Britain must leave the bloc on the due date of October 31 with or without a deal and praised a more radical Brexit-supporting potential successor as British leader. He also called for arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage, a scourge of May’s ruling Conservative Party, to conduct talks with the EU. Brexit is the most significant geopolitical move for the United Kingdom since World War Two and if it ever happens then London will be more reliant on the United States as ties loosen with the other 27 members of the EU.

The Huawei factor

At a meeting with May, Trump will also warn Britain that security cooperation, a cornerstone of the western intelligence network, could be hurt if London allows China’s Huawei a role in building parts of the 5G network, the next generation of cellular technology. The Trump administration has told allies not to use its 5G technology and equipment because of fears it would allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data. Huawei denies it is, or could be, a vehicle for Chinese intelligence.

Carnival of resistance

Britain’s relationship with the United States is an enduring alliance, but some British voters see Trump as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on issues ranging from global warming to his treatment of women. Hundreds of thousands protested against him during a trip last year and a blimp depicting Trump as a snarling, nappy-clad baby will fly outside Britain’s parliament during the visit. Other protesters plan a “carnival of resistance” in central London.

Opposition reacts

Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, who has declined an invitation to attend the state banquet, scolded Trump for getting involved in British politics. Another senior Labour lawmaker, Yvette Cooper, said it was wrong to gift Trump the opportunity of photographs with the royal to boost his re-election campaign next year.

“So appalled Theresa May has given this man a red carpeted platform to do this,” she wrote on Twitter. “Doesn’t help Britain to be lavishing pomp on a president so determined to be divisive, childish & destructive.” While Monday is dominated by pageantry, the second day of Trump’s trip will focus on politics, including a breakfast with business leaders, talks with May in 10 Downing Street, a news conference and a dinner at the US ambassador’s residence.

Melania Trump and Philip May to throw garden party

US First Lady Melania Trump
US First Lady Melania Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband, Philip. Image Credit: AFP and Reuters

London (Reuters): US First Lady Melania Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband, Philip, will throw a garden party in Downing Street on Tuesday for staff and their children. Britain rolled out the royal red carpet for US President Donald Trump and his wife on Monday laying on pomp and pageantry ahead of a formal banquet with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.

While the leaders get down to business, their spouses will be treated to a traditional English garden party attended by the staff from Downing Street and the US embassy. Children of staff are also invited. Philip, a low-profile British investment relationship manager, has been a quiet partner during May’s almost-three years in power.

Melania, frequently pictured at the President’s side and treated as a fashion icon by the media, is a former model more than 20 years Trump’s junior. When she met Queen Elizabeth on Monday, Melania wore an elegant white below-the-knee dress with navy blue trim and matching hat.

What happens when Queen Elizabeth lays out state banquet for Trump?

London (Reuters): A four-course meal, more than 2,000 pieces of silver-gilt cutlery and a toast to the queen: Donald Trump enjoyed all the trappings of a state banquet when the US president was received by Queen Elizabeth.

While this is the first time Trump and his wife Melania experienced a royal British banquet, the queen is used to such occasions: it is the 113th time Queen Elizabeth has hosted a state visit. State visit invitations are extended by the government, but the queen acts as host.

 Members of the Household Cavalry
Members of the Household Cavalry make their way by horseback down the Mall in London. Image Credit: Bloomberg

After being greeted at Buckingham Palace with a cannon salute and marching Guards band, Trump had have a private lunch with the monarch and tea with her son Prince Charles before the state banquet in the evening.

Elizabeth gave a speech and a toast.

Then the meal began — usually consisting of a fish course, a meat course, a pudding course and a dessert course of fruit. The meal is served on the silver-gilt “Grand Service”, originally commissioned by George IV when he was Prince of Wales in 1806. It consists of over 4,000 pieces for dining, including dinner plates and 107 candelabra.

Buckingham Palace says the final build of the State Banquet table starts around five days before the arrival of the visiting head of state, and that every detail of the meal is checked and approved by Queen Elizabeth.

Trump joins Barack Obama and George W. Bush as the only US presidents to have official state visits to Britain with Queen Elizabeth. She has met all 13 presidents in her reign except Lyndon Johnson.

Trump was widely seen to have broken royal protocol when he failed to bow when met the queen in 2018, and then walked in front of her as they inspected a guard.

And Trump may be well advised to keep his remarks brief to avoid the mild embarrassment suffered by his predecessor.

During his state banquet in 2011, Obama spoke over the British national anthem after musicians struck up during a pause in his toast, and then raised his glass to the queen at the wrong moment.