Trump lands in UK, early protest small

After attending a NATO summit in Brussels, U.S. President Donald Trump landed in the UK on Thursday for his first official visit.

Following his arrival, President Trump and his wife, Melania, had a scheduled dinner with the UK Prime Minister Theresa May and business leaders at Blenheim Palace, a two-hour drive from London.

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While Trump’s engagements don’t fulfill the criteria for a state visit, the president and first lady will meet tomorrow with the Queen on what is officially described as a working visit.

When Trump was invited last year, 1.86 million people signed a petition declaring he should not be given a full state visit because it would embarrass the Queen. The petition said: “Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales.”

Trump and the first lady will return to London to spend the night at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. On Friday, they’ll attend a joint UK-U.S. military training exercise, then visit the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, to discuss foreign policy and hold a joint press conference. Finally, the Trumps will visit Windsor Castle, where they will meet the Queen.

Demonstrations against Trump’s visit have been planned in central London and around the country. Unlike previous U.S. presidents, Trump will avoid public appearances in London.

Early protests small

Although thousands of protesters had been expected to take to the streets, turnout for the “Carnival of Resistance” on July 12 appeared modest. By 7 p.m. local time, about 200 protestors had gathered in front of the U.S. ambassador’s residence at Hanover Gate, carrying signs, shouting, and banging on pots and pans. Trump and the first lady are expected to spend the night at the ambassador’s residence. A large contingent of international media was on hand covering the protest.

July 12, 2018. Londoners protests Donald Trump visit
Protestors gather outside the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London before the arrival of President Donald Trump. Photo by Eliza Gkritsi for WikiTribune.

A protestor named “Kate” from Kent told WikiTribune it was important for the public to voice opposition to Trump’s policies and said, “I just want there to be as many voices as possible.”

Braydon, a taxi driver from London was there to “counter-balance” the feelings expressed by the protesters. “No one was complaining when Assad was sleeping in the palace. Trump is a hero,” he told WikiTribune.

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On July 13, protesters will march from Portland Place to Trafalgar Square. A range of speakers and performers are expected to join what is expected to be a much larger demonstration.

About 4,000 officers have been drafted and the cost of policing the visit has been estimated at a minimum of £12 million (about $15.8 million).

About 200 demonstrators showed up at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. Larger demonstrations are expected on Friday. Photo by Eliza Gkritsi for WikiTribune.
Protestors gather outside the U.S. ambassador's residence in London before the arrival of President Donald Trump on July 12, 2018.
What they lacked in number, protestors made up for in noise, banging on pots and pans, shouting and blowing horns. Photo by Eliza Gkritsi for WikiTribune.

“The requirements of this complex operation need to be balanced with the right of individuals to a freedom of speech,” a spokesperson for the Metropolitan police told WikiTribune. On Thursday, police refused permission for a mobile stage and sound system for Friday’s protest.

Demonstrations have also been planned in other parts of the UK, including near Bleinhem Palace, Chequers and Windsor Castle. The U.S. embassy has advised Americans in London to keep a “low profile” during Trump’s visit.

“This protest is not anti-American – far from it. Most of those marching on Friday will love the United States, just as I do. But having a special relationship means that we expect the highest standards from each other, and it also means speaking out when we think the values we hold dear are under threat,” the Mayor of London said in a statement.

WikiTribune has been in touch with the organizers of the protests, as well as the police, and will publish updates from the protests.

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