Trump, Queen have tea amid protests
U.S. PRESIDENT MEETS QUEEN AS PROTESTS, POLITICAL MEDDLING OVERSHADOW VISIT
After Prime Minister Theresa May rolled out the red carpet at Blenheim Palace on Thursday night for President Donald Trump’s first official visit to Britain, a London tabloid published an explosive interview in which Trump blasted May.
The remarks, along with mass demonstrations across the U.K., cast a pall over a visit that included a lavish dinner with business leaders Thursday night and a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II for afternoon tea on Friday. It was the latest international incident to erupt during Trump’s brief sojourn abroad, which kicked off with incendiary comments that upended a NATO summit in Brussels and further strained relationships with longtime U.S. allies.
Trump tried to pull off a diplomatic backflip in the wake of the interview, reversing himself on trade, Brexit and his critical assessment of May while insisting the U.S.-U.K. relationship is “the highest level of special.”
In the interview with The Sun, Trump slammed May, blamed London’s mayor for terror attacks against the city and argued that Europe was “losing its culture” because of immigration.
The president did his own version of backtracking at a news conference with May by finding a way to blame his favourite foil for any perceived friction with the British prime minister, whom he lavished with praise on the heels of questioning her leadership.
“I didn’t criticize the prime minister. I have a lot of respect for the prime minister,” said Trump. He blamed the newspaper for skipping over his praise of May in a piece that was published Thursday.
The president then urged reporters to listen to a full recording of the interview, which he said would give the full picture. But the audio was already posted on The Sun’s website and undermined Trump’s contention it would back him up.
Also in his interview with the tabloid, Trump spoke glowingly of Boris Johnson, who quit the cabinet this week in protest over May’s plans for a soft Brexit.
“I have a lot of respect for Boris. He obviously likes me and says very good things about me,” Trump told the tabloid. “I was very saddened to see he was leaving government, and I hope he goes back in at some point. I think he is a great representative for your country.”
Asked whether Johnson could find himself in 10 Downing Street one day, Trump said, “Well I am not pitting one against the other. I am just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”
While the president was with May, first lady Melania Trump dutifully tried her hand at lawn bowls during a solo outing Friday to a historic London veterans’ retirement home on her first visit to Britain as America’s first lady.
Melania Trump visited Royal Hospital Chelsea, an imposing building founded over 300 years ago by King Charles II that currently houses hundreds of British veterans. She was hosted by May’s husband, Philip.
The pair toured the hospital grounds before joining a small group of elementary schoolchildren and veterans in making red paper poppies.
She ended the visit with a game of bowls with May, the children and the veterans.
Meanwhile, in London, a group of official “babysitters” in orange jackets inflated a giant “Trump Baby” balloon with helium and flew it above Westminster Abbey, kicking off a day of protests against Trump’s visit.
Demonstrations took place across the nation. The biggest was in central London, where thousands of people took to the streets.
Organizers of the Together Against Trump mass demonstration estimated that more than 100,000 protesters had joined the march by mid-afternoon Friday.
Trump said that he was not spending much time in London on this trip because he did not feel welcome.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he told the Sun.
And then, after all the diplomatic tumult, it was time to sip tea with the Queen.
Trump took a break from his sparring with U.S. allies and the press to enjoy one of diplomacy’s oldest traditions. The president and first lady were delivered by chauffeured Range Rover early Friday evening to the courtyard of Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II was awaiting them under a canopy on a dais.
There were handshakes all around, and then the threesome stood side-by-side as a military band played the American national anthem. With the Queen in the middle, the Trumps seemed to tower over the monarch, who stands roughly 5-foot-3.
The president and Queen then broke off to review the troops, walking slowly past a line of Coldstream Guards wearing traditional bearskin hats.
The Trumps and the Queen were scheduled to spend about 30 minutes getting acquainted over tea inside the castle but the visit stretched past 45 minutes.
Trump has talked at length about the royal family over the years.
The president then returned to London by helicopter for the Air Force One flight to Scotland.
WHEN THEY PUT OUT BLIMPS TO MAKE ME FEEL UNWELCOME, NO REASON FOR ME TO GO.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth inspect a Guard of Honour at Windsor Castle on Friday. Her Majesty welcomed the president and first lady Melania Trump for tea at the castle as part of an official visit that was marked by huge protests and diplomatic faux pas.
U.S. first lady Melania Trump high-fives a British “Chelsea Pensioner” veteran during a game of bowls at Royal Hospital Chelsea in London on Friday while her husband, President Donald Trump, held bi-lateral talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.