London (CNSNews.com) – President Trump begins his first state visit to the United Kingdom on Monday, with the promise of pomp and circumstance, along with the roar of protests.
Coming at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth, the visit has been described by the British and American governments as a chance to celebrate their relationship ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union. It has also been set to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Trump and his family will meet with the Queen and members of the royal family at Buckingham Palace, followed by a traditional gun salute and a state banquet in the evening.
On Tuesday, the president will hold talks with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street, before dinner with U.S. Ambassador Woody Johnson.
The “Stop Trump Coalition,” a group of left-leaning groups, has vowed to bring central London “to a standstill.” Protests are scheduled outside Buckingham Palace on Monday night, with a march to Downing Street during Tuesday’s meeting.
A “Carnival of Resistance” will include “themed areas” around Trafalgar Square focusing on such issues as “climate justice.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan has given permission for the giant “Trump baby” balloon to be flown during the protests. The balloon featured in protests during Trump’s visit to the country last year – his first as president, although not a state visit like this week’s.
Writing in the Observer on Sunday, Khan said that he values the special relationship between Britain and the U.S. but that May should reject Trump and “the far-right agenda he embodies.”
On Wednesday, Trump and May will go to Portsmouth in southern England for ceremonies marking the D-Day landings – one day before the 75-year anniversary. Members of the royal family, leaders from nations which fought on the allied side in World War II, and 300 D-Day veterans will take par.
Having fallen to the political in-fighting over Brexit, May has announced that she will step down this week. A new leader will be chosen from the ranks of the governing Conservative Party by the end of July.
Trump ignited fresh controversy in recent days by saying former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – one of a dozen contenders in the contest – would be an “excellent” choice, drawing criticism of interference in Britain’s domestic affairs.
In interviews the president has also praised Nigel Farage, leader of the new Brexit Party, and made headlines for saying remarks made by the Duchess of Sussex – the American former actress Meghan Markle – about him in the past were “nasty.” (The duchess, who gave birth last month, is not scheduled to be present at any of the events on Trump’s itinerary.)
Speaking before those interviews were published Sarah Elliott, the head of Republicans Overseas U.K., said Trump’s style was completely different from the generally quieter British way of doing things.
But looking past the noise surrounding his visit, she said, the trip came at a good time, with Britain appearing to push the “reset button” on the proposed withdrawal from the E.U.
With May having failed to win parliamentary support for her Brexit plan, some candidates to succeed her are promising to renegotiate it with the E.U.
Not only was America one of Britain’s biggest trading partners, Elliott said, but it was always important to reaffirm ties.
“We are thrilled that the president is coming,” she said.
Republicans Overseas U.K. will on Tuesday host a dinner in London celebrating the Anglo-American relationship, featuring Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee in the House of Commons, and Lieut. Col. Michael D. Skaggs, Marine Attaché to the U.S. Embassy.
Elliott said it was important to put political differences aside during the state visit.
“I hope the U.K. will embrace its long-lost cousin,” she said.