U.S. President Donald Trump will make a state visit to the United Kingdom in June, Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday, a trip Britain hopes will cement transatlantic relations but one that immediately prompted criticism and promises of protests.
Trump willbe only the third U.S. president to have been accorded the honour of a statevisit by Queen Elizabeth during her 67-year reign. But the trip, from June 3-5,is likely to be controversial given many Britons deeply dislike the man andreject his policies on issues such as immigration.
Almost 1.9million Britons signed a petition in 2017 saying he should not be given a statevisit – a pomp-laden affair involving a carriage trip through London and abanquet at Buckingham Palace. Protests involving tens of thousands ofdemonstrators overshadowed his non-state trip to Britain last July.
The LabourParty strongly criticised Prime Minister Theresa May for pressing ahead withthe ceremonial stay, which she offered Trump when she became the first foreignleader to visit him after his inauguration in January 2017.
May, who isfacing calls for her resignation from some MPs in her own Conservative Partyover her handling of the country's exit from the European Union, which is stillstalled, will be hoping for strong backing for a post-Brexit U.S.-UK tradedeal.
"The UK andUnited States have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our commonhistory and shared interests," May said in a statement.
The state visit would be an opportunity to strengthen already close ties in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, she said.
The WhiteHouse said the trip would reaffirm "the steadfast and special relationship"between the allies.
During histrip last year, Trump shocked Britain's political establishment by giving awithering assessment of May's Brexit strategy. He said she had failed to followhis advice such as suing the EU but later said May was doing a fantastic job.
"This is aPresident who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite ourtwo countries," Emily Thornberry, Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman, said ina statement after the visit was announced.
"UnlessTheresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behaviour,she has no business wasting taxpayers' money on all the pomp, ceremony andpolicing costs that will come with this visit."
Few detailsof the trip were given, but it will include a meeting with May in DowningStreet and also a ceremony in Portsmouth on the south English coast to mark the75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France during World WarTwo. Trump will be accompanied by his wife, Melania.
Tea and protests
Last year,Trump was feted with a lavish dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of theBritish World War Two leader Winston Churchill, and he and Melania also had teawith the queen at Windsor Castle.
Thepresident then breached royal protocol by publicly disclosing details of aconversation he had with the 93-year-old monarch about the complexities ofBrexit.
Trump'sstate visit has been a divisive issue for Britons since May issued theinvitation, with 1.86 million people signing a petition calling for him to beprevented from making such a trip, leading to a debate in parliament in 2017.
More than100 protests were planned across the country during his visit last year andpolice had to deploy 10,000 officers, an operation that cost nearly 18 millionpounds.
The largestprotest in London attracted some 250,000 people, according to organisers,bringing much of the capital to a standstill.
Theypromised a "Together Against Trump" protest in June.
"He is asymbol of the new far right, a politics of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, ofwar and conflict, and walls and fences that are growing around the world," saidShaista Aziz, from the Stop Trump coalition.
The queen,the world's longest-reigning monarch, has met every U.S leader since Harry S.Truman except for Lyndon Johnson. Only two U.S. presidents – Barack Obama in2011 and George W. Bush in 2003 – have previously been invited for full statevisits.
Afterleaving Britain, Trump will travel to France to meet French President EmmanuelMacron, the White House said.