Donald Trump to avoid London during U.K. visit amid planned protests
LONDON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Britain will take him to a palace, a country mansion and a castle — and will mostly avoid London, where noisy protests are planned.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said Friday that Trump will arrive July 12 after attending a NATO summit in Brussels. That evening he will attend a black-tie dinner with business leaders at Blenheim Palace, a grand country house near Oxford that was the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
He will be greeted with military pomp, including a welcome by bands of the Irish, Scots and Welsh Guards. The Royal Regiment of Scotland — homeland of the president’s mother — will pipe him out at the end of the dinner.
The next day, Trump and May will visit an unspecified defense site before holding talks at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat 40 miles (65 kms) from the capital. Later Friday the president will travel to Windsor Castle, west of London, for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II.
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The itinerary will keep the president away from London on Friday, where protesters plan to march and to fly a blimp depicting Trump as a screaming orange baby over Parliament.
The president will spend Thursday night at U.S. Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson’s London residence but will otherwise steer clear of the city.
Johnson told reporters on a conference call Friday that the president’s itinerary was not designed to keep him away from protesters. He said Trump appreciates free speech, which is seen as one of the shared values that bind Britain and the United States.
“The president is not avoiding anything,” the ambassador said. “The president is merely trying to get as impactful a trip as he can get in a 24-hour period.”
He said the highlight will be the chance for the president and first lady to meet the queen.
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Trump and his wife Melania plan to spend the weekend privately in Scotland, where the president owns two golf courses, before traveling to Helsinki, Finland, for a July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s trip is classed as an official visit, rather than the full-scale state visit, hosted by the queen, for which May invited Trump soon after his January 2017 inauguration. London and Washington say the state visit is still due to happen at some point.
© 2018 The Canadian Press