LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles greeted US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania at Buckingham Palace on Monday (June 3) at the start of a three-day state visit filled with pomp, ceremony and controversy.
With a 41-gun royal salute ringing out across the royal palace’s front lawn, Trump shook hands with the queen before heading inside. Prince Charles and wife Camilla strode out on the back lawn of the central London palace to meet the president and his wife as they stepped off the Marine One helicopter after a short hop from the US embassy.
The two couples walked side-by-side up the palace stairs, where the queen was waiting as Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared watched on from a balcony.
The queen and the Trumps then headed inside, before re-emerging into the sunlight to listen to the US national anthem. Trump was also given the honour of inspecting British soldiers in their ceremonial bearskins.
The president will later attend a banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and meet outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May.
On landing, Mr Trump renewed his verbal attacks on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling him a "stone-cold loser" after the mayor criticised the British government's decision to offer a state visit to Mr Trump.
"@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly 'nasty' to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom," Mr Trump said on Twitter shortly before Air Force One landed at Stansted Airport near London.
"He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me."
Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, will be treated to a full display of British royal pageantry during the June 3-5 visit, including a tour of Westminster Abbey, coronation church of English monarchs for 1,000 years.
Beyond the ceremony, though, the proudly unpredictable 45th US president is likely to rock the boat with the United States’ closest ally, whose political establishment has been in chaos for months over Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Mr Trump has praised a more radical Brexit-supporting potential successor to Mrs May, and his envoys have urged a tougher British stance towards Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
“I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit,” Mr Trump had wrote on Twitter minutes before Air Force One landed.
Britain is hoping the visit will cement the so-called special relationship between the countries and lay the platform for a post-Brexit trade deal, which Mr Trump has said could be worked out in the near future.
Britain’s relationship with the US is an enduring alliance, but some British voters see Mr Trump as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on issues ranging from global warming to his treatment of women.
Hundreds of thousands protested against him during a trip last year and a blimp depicting Mr Trump as a snarling, nappy-clad baby will fly outside Britain’s parliament during the visit.
Other protesters plan a “carnival of resistance” in central London.
Mr Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, who has declined an invitation to attend the state banquet, scolded Mr Trump for getting involved in British politics.
“President Trump’s attempt to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister is an entirely unacceptable interference in our country’s democracy,” Mr Corbyn said.