LONDON – The British monarchy displayed all its pomp this Monday in welcoming US President Donald Trump at the start of his three-day state visit to the United Kingdom.
Though Trump – who couldn’t wait for Air Force One to land in London before renewing his feud with the city’s Muslim mayor – was met by protests, both he and Queen Elizabeth II stressed the values shared by Americans and Britons in their respective toasts during a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
“Mr. President, as we look to the future, I’m confident that our common values and shared interests will continue to unite us. Tonight, we celebrate an alliance that has helped to ensure the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades, and which I believe will endure for many years to come,” the 93-year-old monarch said.
“After the shared sacrifices of the Second World War, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never be repeated,” she said.
“While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard-won peace,” the queen said, addressing the more than 160 guests.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you all to rise and drink a toast to President and Mrs. Trump, to the continued friendship between our two nations, and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States,” Elizabeth concluded.
Trump began his remarks by expressing gratitude to the queen for her hospitality and invoking the memory of the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of occupied France.
“The bond between our nations was forever sealed in that great crusade,” the president said. “As we honor our shared victory and heritage, we affirm the common values that will unite us long into future. Freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, the rule of law and reference for the rights given to us by almighty God.”
“From the Second World War to today, her majesty has stood as a constant symbol of these priceless traditions. She has embodied the spirit of dignity, duty, and patriotism that beats proudly in every British heart,” Trump said.
The president and first lady Melania Trump landed in a military helicopter Monday morning in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
The Trumps passed in review the royal guard of honor and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey before sharing high tea with Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla.
While outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May and members of her Cabinet attended the banquet at the palace, the political portion of Trump’s visit begins in earnest on Tuesday.
The president had been scheduled to meet privately with May on Tuesday, but that plan was dropped in favor of a larger gathering including a select group of US and UK business executives.
Trump appeared open, however, to meeting with one of the candidates to succeed May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, Boris Johnson, who wants the UK to leave the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
The president has already expressed support for Johnson as the next UK prime minister.
While still in the air, Trump sent a series of tweets blasting London Mayor Sadiq Khan, labeling him a “stone cold loser” who had done a “terrible job” running the capital.
The two men had clashed in the past, but the latest salvo from Trump was in response to comments Sunday from Khan characterizing the president as “just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” and accused the US leader of using rhetoric like that of the “fascists of the 20th century.”
Trump wraps up his visit to the United Kingdom this Wednesday, after attending a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day to be held in Portsmouth.