President Donald Trump heads to the United Kingdom on Monday for a three-day official state visit. It’s a trip that will be filled with pomp, politics, and protests.
Trump’s visit kicks off with a ceremonial welcome by the queen; afternoon tea with Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; and the biggest event of all: a formal banquet dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by the queen.
Trump, who is deeply unpopular in the UK, is visiting the country at an extremely fraught time in British politics. Prime Minister Theresa May just last week announced she is stepping down after trying — and failing — to steer the country through its divorce with the European Union.
But she and Trump are scheduled to co-host a business breakfast meeting on Tuesday with senior UK and US business leaders — and if his trip last year is any guide, he probably won’t get through the visit without inserting himself into the UK’s debate over Brexit and its future prime minister.
Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s big UK visit.
Trump’s state visit to the UK will be full of pomp, protests, and (maybe) politics
Trump’s three-day state visit comes a little more than two years after he first got the invite. Trump will be the third US president to make an official state visit, and he’ll be bringing First Lady Melania Trump, his adult children, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton — along with a massive entourage of security and administrative staff.
Some of the highlights of his visit include a ceremonial welcome by the queen and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, a private lunch with some royals, and afternoon tea with Prince Charles and Camilla. Trump will also get a tour of Westminster Abbey and lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
But the main event on Monday is the state banquet hosted by the queen in the opulent ballroom at Buckingham Palace, where Trump and first lady Melania will attend with a slew of royals and other VIPs.
But a few notable names turned down the invitation over their objections to Trump, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow. (Bercow has also opposed Trump addressing Parliament, which former US president Barack Obama did.)
Tuesday is a bit less celebratory; the Financial Times has dubbed it “political day.” It includes breakfast with May and business leaders, followed by more meetings with May at the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street.
Since Trump took office, May has powered through a sometimes awkward UK-US alliance in the hope of maintain strong relations after the UK breaks up with the EU.
But Trump hasn’t made things easy on May. Last year, during a working visit to the country, the president criticized May’s handling of Brexit in an interview with a British tabloid — just as she was dealing with a political crisis within her cabinet.
Trump also said in the interview that Boris Johnson, May’s former foreign secretary who had just recently resigned from her government in protest over May’s leadership, would make “a great prime minister,” which is probably not something you should say when someone else is in charge.
British politics have only gotten more chaotic since then. May is stepping down after Trump’s visit, and Johnson has a pretty good shot of replacing her as leader of the Conservative Party and eventually prime minister.
Trump shouldn’t be inserting himself into Britain’s political mess — but knowing Trump, he almost certainly will. UK officials are reportedly worried that Trump “could humiliate May” during the visit (as if she hasn’t been humiliated enough already by her repeated Brexit failures).
And he’s already off to a good (bad) start on that front: Speaking to reporters outside the White House Thursday, Trump congratulated Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party and a strident critic of May, for his success in the recent European Parliament elections. He also called both Farage and Boris Johnson friends of his, and described them as “two very good guys, very interesting people.”
Trump managed to refrain from outright endorsing anyone for the prime minister job, saying only, “I haven’t thought about supporting them. Maybe it’s not my business to support people.”
But even if he does endorse Johnson to be May’s replacement, Johnson might not welcome it this time around. The president remains pretty unpopular in the UK, and massive protests are expected during his visit.
Demonstrations happened last time Trump came to the UK, complete with a Trump baby blimp. But protesters have upped the ante and are reportedly planning to unveil a 16-foot-tall robot of a texting Trump sitting on a golden toilet — a toilet that farts and says “No collusion.” (It was made in China, to add insult to injury.)
Major protests are expected on June 4 in London, though there will be other, smaller protests (including a pot-and-pan banging outside Trump’s state dinner on Monday) in London and other cities.
Trump will have a respite later Tuesday, when he hosts a dinner at the US Ambassador’s residence on Tuesday, which Prince Charles and Camilla will attend.
On Wednesday, Trump heads to Portsmouth — a major departure port for the allied naval forces in the Normandy invasion in World War II — where ceremonies will be held to commemorate D-Day. There are some worries over Trump protests there, with some fearing it may detract from the solemn ceremonies.
Trump will then fly to Ireland, where he’ll have a quick stopover at Shannon airport and meet with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Trump will conclude his Europe trip on Thursday. He will head to France, where he’ll honor the landing of allied forces in Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and he’ll later meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.