(Bloomberg) -- Queen Elizabeth II will host Donald Trump on a state visit to the U.K. in early June, risking a repeat of the nationwide public protests which greeted the U.S. president during his trip last year.
A state visit is the highest honor afforded to visiting dignitaries and comes at a critical time for Prime Minister Theresa May’s government as it tries to salvage the so-called special relationship and pursue a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. Trump, who will be a guest of the Queen, is likely to receive a banquet at Buckingham Palace during his June 3-5 visit.
However, because of refurbishment work, the president will not get to stay at the palace, and for security reasons is not expected to ride in a gilt carriage escorted by mounted soldiers -- an honor often offered to visiting heads of state, according to a person familiar with the plans.
“The State Visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead,” May said in a statement. “We must continue to stand together to uphold our shared values and way of life.”
Trump and May will hold talks in London and take part in an event to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which saw massive allied landings in mainland Europe in one of the turning points of World War II. The two leaders will travel to Portsmouth for the commemoration, which will feature a fly-past and a gathering of Royal Navy warships.
Trump’s visit to the U.K. last July was quietly downgraded from a state visit, but that didn’t stop the protests. They included a helium-filled caricature of the president known as the Trump Baby. He didn’t visit Parliament and was forced to move around the country by helicopter.
The president was taken to Blenheim Palace, the 300-year-old mansion where World War II leader Winston Churchill was born. He met May at her country estate, and took tea with the queen at Windsor Castle. All the venues were outside of London to steer clear of the tens of thousands of protesters -- part of the government’s strategy to avoid ruffling the feathers of a leader known to react impulsively to criticism.
Opponents of Trump, including some of the climate change activists who have been blockading roads and disrupting central London for the past week, said there will be a repeat of the marches and public protests last year.
“We will be working with other organizations to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people on the streets in June to oppose the politics Trump represents,” Dave Webb, chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said in a statement. “The state visit is totally unacceptable -- and certainly not a diplomatic necessity as some have suggested.”
The opposition Labour Party also criticized the invitation, saying Trump shouldn’t be receiving the honor of an invitation from the Queen.
“This is a president who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries,” Emily Thornberry, Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday. “Unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behavior, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit.”
Relations between Trump and May have been fraught. Despite being the first world leader to visit him at the White House, the two have never enjoyed a close rapport. He regards her as a bossy schoolmistress; she finds it hard to get a word in on their trans-Atlantic phone calls.
Trump’s past statements on Brexit have also made it harder for the prime minister to push her feuding Cabinet toward a compromise on leaving the European Union.
The president has repeatedly angered Britons, including by re-tweeting propaganda from a far-right British anti-Muslim group and criticizing London’s response to terrorist attacks.
Trump will travel to France for further D-Day commemorations and to meet President Emmanuel Macron after he’s been in the U.K., the White House said.
(Updates with carriage plans in third paragraph, protests from eighth.)
--With assistance from Robert Hutton.
To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Thomas Penny in London at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org, Stuart Biggs, Mark Williams
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.