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By Jonathan Allen
LONDON — Arriving to a royal welcome from the British monarch and government and a collective raspberry from much of the public, President Donald Trump landed in England Monday morning for his first official state visit to the U.K. — one that comes directly on the heels of the American president injecting himself into British domestic politics.
A mostly ceremonial trip that will wrap up in France with the 75th anniversary of the Allies storming the beach at Normandy, Trump’s visit promises to mix in statecraft at the margins of an official schedule full of pomp.
The president and First Lady Melania Trump are due to arrive at Buckingham Palace, home of Queen Elizabeth II and her administrative headquarters, shortly after noon local time for a presentation of their traveling party, a luncheon, and a review of royal gifts.
Later, they plan to visit Westminster Abbey, the site of coronations and royal weddings, as well as the final resting spot of 17 monarchs, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin. After tea with Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, the duchess of Cornwall, they’ll return to Buckingham Palace for a state banquet in the evening.
The main events are intended to demonstrate the closeness of the “special relationship” between the two countries.
“Our relationship has underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity for many years — and will continue to do so for generations to come,” May said in a statement.
But Trump’s decision to insert himself into British politics — and his use of the word “nasty” in conjunction with Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle — created new tension just before his departure. Trump endorsed nationalist-leaning former London Mayor Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party race to succeed May, who is stepping down Friday.
Though not out of character for Trump, the decision to intervene in a factional contest in a foreign country was a rare move for an American president. He has also urged Britain to walk away from talks to smooth its exit from the European Union if it doesn’t like the deal on the table.
Trump plans to meet Tuesday with May in the main policy-focused event of his trip. British and American experts say they expect trade and security issues to be at the forefront of their discussion.
And the president managed to ruffle British feathers before he had even left Air Force One. Trump continued his public feud with London mayor Sadiq Khan, who wrote a scathing comment piece about Trump in a weekend newspaper, in a pair of tweets sent just before he stepped off the plane.