WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump finally has a date on the calendar for a state dinner at Buckingham Palace — a visit more than two years in the making. The mere announcement of his June visit as the guest of Queen Elizabeth II stirred up fresh anti-Trump sentiment Tuesday among Brits who want to deny him a seat at the table.
Trump and his wife, Melania, have accepted the queen’s invitation to visit June 3-5, the White House and the palace announced.
Many American presidents have visited the monarch, but just two — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — were honored with a state visit and its accompanying pomp and pageantry, including a horse-drawn carriage ride and a royal banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Rarer still is the announcement of a state visit just weeks before it takes place. But talk of the visit has been contentious ever since Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump just days after he took office in January 2017. The trip has been delayed amid concerns about Trump’s reception in the U.K. and Britain’s extended crisis over Brexit, which has consumed most of the government’s political energy.
Trump made an official trip to the U.K. last July . He met with May and got acquainted with the queen over tea at Windsor Castle, but it was not a state visit. Demonstrators trailed the U.S. president everywhere, with tens of thousands of people flooding the streets of central London to protest his presence. A 20-foot (6-meter) balloon depicting Trump as a screaming, diaper-wearing baby was also flown near Parliament.
“This is a president who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behavior, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit,” said Emily Thornberry, foreign affairs spokeswoman for Britain’s main opposition Labour Party.
In addition to his second meeting with the queen, Trump will also hold talks with May, whose handling of Brexit the president has repeatedly criticized .
The president has said May didn’t heed his advice on how to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union. She, in turn, has said Trump advised her to sue the EU. Trump has also said May’s proposed Brexit deal, which calls for Britain to retain close economic and regulatory ties with the EU, would likely scupper the chances of a U.K.-U.S. free-trade deal.
One detail that’s still TBD is whether Trump will be granted the honor of addressing Parliament, as did presidents Ronald Reagan and Obama.
“This state visit will reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” the White House said.
May said Britain and the U.S. “have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests” and that Trump’s visit is an “opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship” in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense.
On the final day of their visit, Trump and the first lady plan to attend a ceremony in Portsmouth, a naval city on England’s south coast, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when Allied forces invaded northern France.
Nations that took part in the campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany have also been invited to attend. They include Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Germany also has been invited, in keeping with previous D-Day commemorative events.
The leader of Portsmouth’s City Council said Trump’s attendance would shift attention away from the veterans.
“With Donald Trump coming I think the chances are that it will move from being around commemoration and instead it will be a day of controversy,” said councilor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, a member of the opposition Liberal Democrats.
After leaving Britain, Trump will travel to Normandy in northern France as a guest of President Emmanuel Macron to attend ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, which contains the graves of 9,380 U.S. service members. Most lost their lives in the D-Day landings.
In France, Trump will also meet with Macron, who has also been the target of some of Trump’s criticism.