Trump’s London Visit Will Bring More of the Same

Queen Elizabeth II invited Trump to London for an official state visit in June. It’s no surprise that people are already planning protests.

Trump meets Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle in July 2018.
Trump meets Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle in July 2018. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

Donald Trump is coming back to Britain—this time, at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II. On Tuesday, Buckingham Palace announced that the American president would be returning to the United Kingdom in June for a three-day state visit, which will include a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The long-anticipated visit comes less than a year after Trump’s first to the U.K. as president, in July, which was largely defined by mass public protests, a controversial press conference, and a yellow blimp depicting the president as a baby.

Though the trip will feature all the added trappings of a formal state visit, including a ceremonial welcome, a procession down the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace, and a state banquet, we can expect more of the same: Protesters have already announced plans to organize mass demonstrations against the president in central London. (Trump will even be able to give his thoughts on Brexit, as the seemingly never-ending crisis over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is unlikely to be resolved by then.)

Trump’s visit stands to be among the most contentious state visits to take place in the U.K., but it is far from the first to stir controversy. Here are three others:

U.S. President George W. Bush

President Bush is one of only two U.S. presidents (the second is his successor, Barack Obama) who have ever been hosted by the royal family for a full state visit. But when that visit came in 2003, it nearly brought London to a standstill.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters descended on the British capital in opposition to the American president and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which had begun only months earlier. The scale of the demonstrations and security concerns ultimately forced the president to forgo certain state-visit functions, including an open-carriage procession near Buckingham Palace. Bush ultimately downplayed the protests in a joint press conference with then–Prime Minister Tony Blair, telling reporters, “It’s a fantastic thing to come to a country where people are able to express their views.”

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

When Saudi King Abdullah visited Britain for a state visit in 2007, demonstrations weren’t limited to street rallies. In addition to protests against corruption and human-rights abuses in Riyadh—which culminated in demonstrators shouting “Murderers,” “Torturers,” and “Shame on you” at the Saudi monarch during a royal procession—the visit was boycotted by the Liberal Democrats, Britain’s third-largest party at the time, which opted to shun the occasion.

“The relationship between our two kingdoms is one of mutual benefit, learning, and understanding,” the queen said at a banquet for King Abdullah hosted in Buckingham Palace. Abdullah, in return, praised “the sense of tolerance that the British people have.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping

China’s Xi Jinping was met with protests over human-rights concerns during his state visit to Britain in 2015, which culminated most prominently in the arrest of an exiled Chinese democracy activist who attempted to block the president’s motorcade, as well as two Tibetan protesters. Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, was notably absent from the banquet honoring the Chinese president at Buckingham Palace, which was regarded as an apparent rebuff of Beijing’s policies toward Tibet.

Though the demonstrations were widely reported in British newspapers, they were excluded from Chinese-media coverage of the trip, which instead focused on the president’s red-carpet welcome, as well as Britons’ eating and drinking habits.