While the U.S. and the U.K. might have a lot in common, Trump’s inauguration as president heralded a new uncertain era for the “special relationship,” although the British government was quick to congratulate Trump on his victory and pledged to work with him.
Prime Minister Theresa May alluded to the relationship, saying she hoped the two countries would “strong and close partners on trade, security and defense.”
But Trump has since ruffled the feathers of both British politicians and the general public with a range of controversial comments on women, immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims. Indeed, his controversial remarks and policies have made it awkward for the U.K. to even host the former businessman this week.
In fact, such was the opposition to Trump’s upcoming three-day visit, from Thursday evening until Sunday, that an initial invitation to the U.K. for a state visit — where the head of state Queen Elizabeth II would host the president in a visit full of pomp and pageantry — was downgraded to a “working visit” amid concerns over likely widespread protests.
As many as 1.8 million Britons signed a petition in 2017 protesting against the then-planned state visit. Despite the downgrade, U.K.-wide demonstrations against Trump are still planned, with an expected 50,000 people likely to gather in London on Friday for a “Stop Trump” protest.
The itinerary for the three-day visit appears to be designed to keep Trump as far away as possible from the capital to avoid any embarrassment by the protests.
Permission has been granted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, not one of Trump’s biggest fans, to allow a 20-foot-tall balloon depicting Trump as a baby to be flown over the capital. The campaigners who paid for the balloon have said it represents Trump’s character as an “angry baby with a fragile ego and tiny hands,” but it has drawn criticism for being disrespectful.