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Donald Trump descends on the U.K. on Thursday for a four-day working visit and his first since becoming U.S. President.
The trip has been the subject of intense scrutiny across the Atlantic for well over a year, with many — including London mayor Sadiq Khan (and several known British faces in Hollywood) — saying that, due to a variety of reasons, he shouldn’t be welcomed.
Trump’s visit will include just one night in the capital, where he will be staying at the U.S. ambassador’s official residence in Regent’s Park (where The Hollywood Reporter understands he’ll be greeted by a Mexican mariachi band by protesters), and two in Scotland, where he’s likely to visit his own Trump-branded golf resorts (and, who knows, might even play a round).
Here’s a rundown of the main things to know about the visit, including a meeting with the Queen, Mark Rylance’s rallying cry and a giant inflatable “Baby Trump” that will float above London.
Tea with the Queen
Trump will become the 12th U.S. President to meet the monarch during her 66-year reign. With the exception of Lyndon Johnson (who only occasionally took trips outside the country and never made a scheduled trip to Europe), Queen Elizabeth has met every man in the White House since Harry Truman. Most important for Trump critics, however, he will not be getting an official “state visit,” a special type of reception that typically includes all manner of pomp, including an open-top carriage ride through central London and a banquet at Buckingham Palace. Only Barack Obama and George W. Bush have received such full-fledged state visits. The Queen is expected to entertain Trump at Windsor Castle, the royal residence west of London where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were recently married.
Meeting Prime Minister Theresa May
While Trump is not believed to be meeting Nigel Farage, the former U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader who was one of the loudest voices in favor of Brexit (and a vocal Trump supporter), he is set to meet Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. The get-together is seen as symbolic of the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K., but comes amid recent tension between the leaders. Trump declined a face-to-face meeting with May at the G7 summit in Canada last month amid reports that he was tired of her “school mistress” tone.
May was understood to have called Trump before the summit to say that U.S. tariffs on EU steel were “unjustified and deeply disappointing.” More recently, she discussed Trump’s policy of separating child refugees from their parents by saying Britain’s policy was more “humane.” To avoid the protests, however, the two are set to hold talks at the Prime Minister’s Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire.
There are planned protests — billed as a “carnival of resistance” — at every stage of Trump’s visit, including the U.S. ambassador’s residence (see aforementioned mariachi band), Chequers, Windsor Castle and up in Scotland. But the biggest show of dissent is likely to take place in central London, where around 50,000 people are expected to march against Trump on July 13. The demonstrators on the “Stop Trump” protest will assemble outside the BBC headquarters and march onto Oxford Street, down Regent Street and end in Trafalgar Square, where a rally will take place.
Keeping things comical, some activists have crowdfunded 18,000 pounds ($24,000) to pay for a six-meter (19.7 feet) tall inflatable of Trump depicted as a baby, complete with diaper, which they intend to fly over London (with the approval of authorities). “Donald Trump is a big, angry baby with a fragile ego,” wrote organizer Leo Murray. “He’s also a racist demagogue who is a danger to women, immigrants and minorities and mortal threat to world peace and the very future of life on earth. Moral outrage is water off a duck’s back to Trump. But he really seems to hate it when people make fun of him. So when Trump visits the U.K. on Friday the 13th of July this year, we want to make sure he knows that all of Britain is looking down on him and laughing.” Such has been the support for the inflatable baby Trump that they now plan to take it on a world tour, to “troll Donald from the skies wherever he goes.”
Celebrities opposing the visit
Numerous British celebrities have expressed their disdain for Trump over the past few years, mostly via Twitter (J.K. Rowling and Armando Iannucci being among the most known — and outspoken). Which names take part in the protests remains to be seen (Iannucci is currently shooting The Personal History of David Copperfield so he might be a little tied up). But Sunday night at an event organized by activist group the Stop the War Coalition called “Just Say No: Artists Against Trump & War,” Oscar winners Mark Rylance and Vanessa Redgrave were among those performing. Rylance, a longtime advocate for peace, spoke about the importance of protesting Trump’s visit, saying that the U.K. population “shouldn’t underestimate the effect we have in standing up and saying, ‘No thank you, Mr. Trump. There’s another way forward, a way together, a way with hope.'”
Why the U.K. might not love the President
Putting his policies to one side, Trump has made a number of incendiary remarks since taking office that have put a little strain on that “special relationship” and had many calling for his visit to be scrapped. Just hours after seven people were killed in terror attacks in June 2017, Trump used Twitter to criticize London mayor Khan over his statement that there was “no reason to be alarmed” (Khan had actually said there was no reason to be alarmed by increased police presence). Speaking at an NRA event in May this year, Trump used rising knife crime in the U.K. to attack its tight gun laws, saying that a London hospital was like a “war zone” with “blood all over the floors.” But arguably the most notorious incident came in November 2017, when Trump retweeted three anti-Islamic tweets by far right group Britain First, an organization known for trying to stir racial hatred and whose leaders have both been jailed for religiously aggravated harassment.
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