After months of speculation, it has been confirmed this week that US President Donald Trump will return to the UK later this year as part of a state visit. This means that Trump has been officially invited by the Queen to attend an occasion which is normally celebrated with great aplomb. In the UK press, there remains division over whether or not Trump’s visit should take place at all – and there had previously been petitions drawn up to try and prevent the President from visiting the country at all.
According to BBC News, both UK and US governments are putting together a schedule and strategy of sorts for the visit, which will likely include gun salutes and a state banquet. It has been confirmed that Trump will be holding a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street, and there are currently no blocks in place for the President to address MPs in parliament. This is a move which had previously caused contention.
May has welcomed the visit as an opportunity for both the US and the UK to ‘strengthen our already close relationship’. Despite this, there continues to be concern over the visit occurring at all. Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, for example, has refused an invitation to the state banquet.
Trump remains a controversial figure in the UK as a result of his immigration policies and his stance on climate change. His previous visit to the UK was mocked by protesters who funded and launched a ‘Trump baby’ blimp, designed to resemble an infantile president, which flew high above the capital. One MP, Clive Lewis, addressed the news of the state visit on twitter with a photo of the balloon and the caption ‘dust off the blimp’.
Trump’s state visit will be the Queen’s 113th, having hosted world leaders in London since 1952. Usually, the guest in question will be expected to reside at Buckingham Palace – however, as it is undergoing renovation work, Trump will be expected to stay elsewhere. The move to bring Trump over for a state visit will be seen as a political one, not merely one of ceremonial benefit.