Trump, Queen have tea amid protests

U.S. PRES­I­DENT MEETS QUEEN AS PROTESTS, PO­LIT­I­CAL MED­DLING OVER­SHADOW VISIT

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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.

RICHARD POHLE / WPA POOL / GETTY IM­AGES

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.

LUCA BRUNO / WPA POOL / GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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