Queen Elizabeth II welcomed President Trump to Buckingham Palace today with an honor guard and royal artillery salute, while Trump carried on an ugly dispute with the mayor of London, whom he called a “stone cold loser” and said was doing a terrible job of running Britain’s capital city.
The juxtaposition of high pageantry and low name-calling, on the first day of Trump’s state visit to Britain, captured yet again the odd swath that this president cuts on the world stage: impulsive and erratic, delighted by a lavish welcome but preoccupied by petty feuds or events back home.
It also showcased the deep ambivalence Trump’s visit has elicited.
The British public mostly rejects Trump and his policies, but the governing elite recognizes the need to reinforce the alliance with the United States as it negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Members of Britain’s royalty did their part, treating Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, to lunch, and later Monday a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
The Trumps also had afternoon tea with the Prince of Wales and his wife, Duchess of Cornwall, at their residence, Clarence House.
The Trumps also laid a wreath at Westminster Abbey, where England’s queens and kings are crowned, married, and laid to rest.
But the stately narrative carried a more rough-edged subtext.
Even before Air Force One touched down outside London, Trump was on Twitter, accusing the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with whom he has feuded since 2016 over immigration, terrorism and other issues, of being “nasty” to him, while misspelling the mayor’s name and mocking his stature.
“Kahn reminds me very much of our dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job — only half his height,” Mr. Trump said in a message posted on Twitter, as he invoked another pet target, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. Mr. Khan, he said, should pay attention to London’s crime rate.
….Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, 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, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani extraction, had earlier described Trump as “just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” and likened the president’s language to that used by “fascists of the 20th century.” In particular, he has singled out Mr. Trump’s effort to ban travelers from Muslim countries.
Trump’s spirits appeared to have lifted by noon, when he arrived at Buckingham Palace, a three-mile journey he made by helicopter.
In May 2011, former President Barack Obama made the same trip by motorcade, driving past cheering crowds.
By using a helicopter, Mr. Trump avoided any possibility of encountering protesters, though the main demonstrations are expected on Tuesday.
At the palace, Trump inspected an honor guard with Prince Charles, while the queen watched, alongside Mrs. Trump and the Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of Charles.
Following a private lunch, Queen Elizabeth showed Trump a collection of gifts that appeared carefully curated to reflect his interests.
They included a map of New York from 1775, a natural history of the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahama Islands, and a table devoted to the Scottish links, with golf-related pictures, letters and a bolt of tartan-patterned Harris tweed.
Trump owns a golf club in Scotland.
And there were brief reminders of another contretemps that Trump set off just before leaving the United States.
During the exhibit of gifts, cameras caught Prince Harry making a brief appearance at the back of the room, but quickly ducking out again.
The prince’s wife, the Duchess of Sussex, formerly known as Meghan Markle, an American actress, was deeply critical of Trump in November 2016 just before he was elected.
She does not plan to meet Trump on this trip, British officials said, because she is on maternity leave.
When Trump was told of those remarks last week by an interviewer for the British tabloid The Sun, he said he didn’t know “she was nasty.”
He then denied the remark, which was on an audio recording.
Attribution:The New York Times