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Trump to avoid spending time in London during UK visit

By Aditi Khanna
July 06, 2018 23:05 IST
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Donald Trump is set to avoid spending much time in London during his first official visit to the United Kingdom as United States president next week, widely being seen as a way to avoid the many protests being planned in the British capital, including flying of a giant “angry baby” balloon.

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump will arrive in UK on Thursday afternoon from a NATO summit in Brussels. Photograph: Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images

According to official details unveiled by Downing Street on Friday, Trump will arrive for the two-day “working visit” next Thursday afternoon straight from a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.

It has also been confirmed that he will be joined by US First Lady Melania Trump during the tour, which will include an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.

The couple’s only time in London will be on Thursday night for a sleepover at the US ambassador’s official residence in the city, Winfield House.


“We regard it as a victory that Donald Trump does not appear to have any official engagements in London or anywhere with a large population. Instead, he will stay hidden away in country estates and castles,” said a spokesperson for Together Against Trump, a collective of a series of trade union and environment groups behind most of the anti-Trump protests in London.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will host the Trumps for an exclusive black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire on July 12. The palace, around 65 miles from London, is the birthplace of Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“The event will begin with a military ceremony in the Great Court performed by the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. The bands will play the Liberty Fanfare, Amazing Grace, and the National Emblem,” a statement from Downing Street said.

“Other guests at the dinner include leaders from business sectors, including representatives from financial services, the travel industry, creative industries, the food and drink sector, engineering, tech, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and defence, celebrating the business links between the UK and US,” the statement said.

The evening is expected to have a joint US-UK flavour, with the Countess of Wessex’s Orchestra performing a series of classic British and American hits and the Royal Regiment of Scotland bag-piping the President out at the end.

The bilateral leg of the visit will kick-start with May and Trump heading to an as-yet-unnamed defence site to witness a demonstration of the UK’s “cutting edge military capabilities and integrated UK-US military training” on July 13.

This will be followed by a trip to Chequers, the British prime minister’s country retreat, for a working lunch and what has been dubbed as “substantive bilateral talks on a range of foreign policy issues”.

Donald and Melania Trump will then travel to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen before heading to Scotland, the birthplace of US president’s mother and also where he owns two golf courses, on July 13 evening.

The US First Couple will then spend the weekend in Scotland as part of the unofficial leg of their UK visit.

The detailed itinerary of the visit emerged soon after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, gave the go-ahead for a giant “angry baby” balloon of Trump to fly over the British capital.

Campaign groups and trade unions have planned a full schedule of protests to greet Trump, whose six-metre helium-filled “angry baby” balloon to fly over Parliament Square is expected to be the centrepiece on July 13.

“He is a deeply insecure man, and that is the only leverage we have over him. If we want his attention, we have to do something that humiliates him,” said Leo Murray, an environmental campaigner behind the crowd-funded balloon stunt.

He described the inflatable “blimp” as an “obscene mutant clone of the president” and says it will “hold up a huge mirror of truth” to the world.

“We want to make sure he knows that all of Britain is looking down on him and laughing at him,” Murray said.

More than 10,000 people had signed a petition calling for the inflatable to be given permission to fly and campaigners raised over 16,000 pounds to pay for the giant balloon, which they said reflects the US president’s character as an “angry baby with a fragile ego and tiny hands”.

“Frankly it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing for the people flying it, for the British residents of London and for people in the UK. I don’t think it will bother him,” said a spokesperson for Republicans Overseas, a representative group for US’ Republican party.

Under the plans, the balloon will be allowed to fly for two hours on the morning of July 13 as Trump heads for his meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street, using nearby Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms.

“His city operations team have met with the organisers and given them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.”

Pakistani-origin Khan and Trump have repeatedly clashed on Twitter, over terrorism and crime, including in the aftermath of the London Bridge attack.

However, before the balloon can take off on the day, campaigners also need permission from the National Air Traffic Service and Scotland Yard. The group behind the stunt, branding themselves as anti-fascist “Art Activists”, are now liaising with the Metropolitan Police and Civil Aviation Authority to ensure airspace over London is managed safely on the day.

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Aditi Khanna
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