Queen Elizabeth throws lavish state banquet for Trump
The Trump dynasty sat down to dinner with the British royal family in the Buckingham Palace ballroom, mingling with British political leaders and industry chiefs from both countries as the UK rolled out the red carpet.
The British sovereign earlier welcomed Trump and his wife Melania with a military guard of honour on a day filled with ceremony and personal touches.
The monarch hosted a private lunch for the couple and showed them the royal art collection, ahead of the glittering state banquet.
Trump seemed to be enjoying the visit, taking to Twitter during his down time.
“London part of trip is going really well. The Queen and the entire royal family have been fantastic. The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong. Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our country,” he said.
“Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the fake news will be working hard to find them. Great love all around.”
But the day began with controversy as, even before his plane touched down, the president lambasted London Mayor Sadiq Khan who compared Trump to 20th-century fascists.
Trump, in return, called the mayor a “stone cold loser” who had done a “terrible job”.
Eight members of the Trump dynasty were at the state banquet, with the four eldest of Trump’s five children at the table.
The president and the first lady were joined by Ivanka Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Junior, Eric Trump and his wife Lara, and Tiffany Trump.
Sixteen members of the royal family were at the dinner, along with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and captains of industry.
They dined on steamed fillet of halibut followed by saddle of new season Windsor lamb, strawberry sable with lemon verbena cream and fresh fruit.
It took royal flunkeys four days to lay the table.
– Protests planned –
Trump’s visit comes at a difficult time for Britain, with Theresa May due to step down as prime minister within weeks over her handling of Brexit.
Trump weighed in on the divisive issue at the weekend, saying he would walk away if he could not get a deal he liked.
The UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over different approaches to Iran, the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks, climate change, and Trump’s personal politics.
Trump’s first official visit to Britain last year was also marked by criticism of May’s Brexit strategy and large protests.
Demonstration organisers are hoping for a repeat of the protests on Tuesday and will once again fly a bright orange “baby Trump” inflatable.
Labour main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who made a last-minute decision to speak at Tuesday’s protests, said the anti-Trump demonstrations were “an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he’s attacked in America, around the world and in our own country”.
He and other opposition leaders boycotted the state banquet, along with John Bercow, the speaker of parliament.
– Special relationship –
May and Trump are expected to emphasise the wider benefits of their old alliance when they hold talks with their teams at Downing Street on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, they will join other world leaders in the English port of Portsmouth to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, which changed the course of World War II.
“Our relationship has underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity for many years, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” May said ahead of the visit.
May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit plan through parliament and twice delaying Britain’s departure.
She will formally quit as leader of her governing Conservative Party on Friday but will stay on as prime minister while her successor is chosen.
Some 13 candidates are in the running and the process should conclude by July 20.
Three years after the referendum vote to leave the EU, Britain remains divided over its future.
Trump recommended the new government make an abrupt break with the EU if necessary, adding that there was “tremendous potential” for trade with his country.
“Big trade deal is possible once UK gets rid of the shackles. Already starting to talk!” he tweeted Monday.
His visit took him to Westminster Abbey, where he laid a wreath in honour of the British troops killed in World Wars I and II.
He also had tea with Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and his wife Camilla.
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