President Trump’s first official visit to the UK next week – what we know so far
It is one of the most significant visits to the UK by a foreign statesman in a generation, with every available detail on Donald Trump’s brief stay coming under the microscope.
This is what we know so far:
When is the president due to arrive?
As one might expect, the former reality television star’s arrival is guarded in secrecy for security reasons. But he will be coming via the Nato summit in Brussels, and is expected to be in London in time for his first engagement of the day, Thursday July 12.
Which will be…?
A black-tie dinner at the Grade I-listed Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire hosted by Theresa May. The first lady, Melania Trump, will be among those present for the Thursday night do.
Downing Street said other guests will include leaders from business sectors including representatives from financial services, the travel industry, creative industries, the food and drink sector, engineering, tech, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and defence, celebrating the business links between the UK and US.
What is so significant about Blenheim Palace?
It is the ancestral home of the Spencer Churchill family. The venue is likely to be of interest for the president that Blenheim Palace was the birthplace of Winston Churchill – a bust of whom was restored to the Oval Office by Mr Trump on his first few days in post, having been removed by predecessor Barack Obama. Churchill also proposed to Clementine Hozier at Blenheim.
What will happen?
If previous engagements between President Trump and other heads of state are anything to go by, a lot of handshaking. The event will begin with a military ceremony in the three-acre Great Court performed by the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards.
What sort of music will the bands perform?
There will be much for the president to feel patriotic about on foreign soil, particularly when the bands perform the Liberty Fanfare – devised by ET and Star Wars composer John Williams to mark the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty – the instantly recognisable National Emblem military standard composed at the turn of the 20th century by Edwin Eugene Bagley, and the popular if slightly funereal hymn Amazing Grace.
During dinner, the Countess of Wessex’s string orchestra military band will perform a series of classic British and American hits, although no further detail has been provided as to which songs will feature. The Royal Regiment of Scotland will pipe the President out at the end. They will then stay at Winfield House, the US Ambassador’s residence in London.
Why not at the US Embassy?
The President rather nailed his colours to the mast earlier this year when he crticised a decision to move the building from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms, Battersea, in south London.
He told a rally in Michigan: “In the UK, in London, we had the best site in all of London. The best site. Well, some genius said, we’re gonna sell the site and then we’re going to take the money and build a new embassy. That sounds good right, but you’ve got to have money left over if you do that, right? They go out and they buy a horrible location. And they build a new embassy. That’s the good news. The bad news is it cost over a billion dollars.”
What does his second day in the UK have in store?
Mrs May and President Trump will reunite on Friday morning for a demonstation of the UK’s military muscle. More details will be revealed at a later date, Downing Street said. They will then travel to Chequers, arena for the Prime Minister’s lengthy Cabinet showdown on Friday, for what is being billed as “substantive bilateral talks on a range of foreign policy issues”. This could include trade tariffs, Russia and North Korea.
Will we find out what is discussed?
Potentially. A press conference is pencilled-in for this section of the itinery, although it is likely to be decided nearer the time who – if anyone – faces the cameras.
Will the president meet the Queen?
Yes, after lunch on the Friday, at Windsor Castle. The President has not been honoured with a state visit, the trappings of which include an official banquet at Buckingham Palace or a carriage procession up the Mall.
And then he’s gone?
Well, on Friday evening he will head to Scotland, somewhere he once described it as “the great nation of my ancestors”, where he owns two golf courses. It is indeed possible the President will decide to play either Trump Turnberry or the Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen.
He may also visit the Isle of Lewis where his mother, the late Mary MacLeod Trump, was born before emigrating to the US in the 1930s. President Trump and the First Lady are expected to depart for Europe on the Sunday.
So – what about the Trump Baby blimp and any protests?
The crowdfunded inflatable depicting the President in a nappy has not been mentioned in the official itinerary. Though with so few public appearances earmarked, it is possible the President himself may not be outside long enough to catch glimpse of it – likewise, protesters of the President.