World News

Trump Will Meet Queen Elizabeth II Next Month, His Ambassador Says

Posted June 20, 2018 5:35 p.m. EDT

President Donald Trump will meet Queen Elizabeth II during his long-delayed first trip to Britain as president next month, the U.S. ambassador to Britain said Wednesday, an encounter that could reignite furor among British critics who oppose his deeply divisive policies and his polarizing personality.

The ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson, announced the planned encounter in an interview with Sky News, the British broadcaster.

He said while the details were still being worked out, they include a meeting with the monarch.

“Yes, yes, I mean, he has to see the head of state,” Johnson said. “Putting his foot on British soil, it’s job one, it’s very important, very symbolic. Meeting Her Majesty is the most important thing, because she’s the head of state, and from then on, it’ll be what the president wants to do.”

Trump is said to have described his mother, a native of Scotland, as a “big fan” of the queen, according to The Sunday Times of London.

But not everyone is so excited.

Outrage at Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Europe, has mounted over the past week amid the worldwide attention on the U.S. government’s practice of separating children from their unauthorized migrant parents along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Trump signed an executive order Wednesday, rescinding the practice.)

“In the last 3 days President Trump has backed the caging of children, talked of migrants ‘infesting’ the country, withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, made repeated lies about crime in Germany and we are honouring him with a visit to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen,” a British lawyer and political commentator, Peter Stefanovic, wrote on Twitter.

The planning for Trump’s first visit to Britain as president, slated on July 13, has been bumpy. He was originally set to visit in January, to celebrate the opening of a new U.S. Embassy.

At the last minute, however, he scrapped that plan, expressing his dissatisfaction over the building’s location and cost. Observers said the cancellation was a calculated effort to forestall his exposure to protesters.

Prime Minister Theresa May first extended an official invitation on behalf of the queen to Trump during her visit shortly after his inauguration in January 2017.

He accepted it, but the British public reacted with anger as more than 1.8 million people signed a petition opposing it on the British Parliament’s website, forcing lawmakers to debate whether to rescind the invitation.

The trip has been pushed back time after time since then, and it has been downgraded to a “working visit,” rather than a state visit, which would occasion far more pomp and circumstance.

Trump’s impulsive, flamboyant tweeting habit has aggravated Britons. After a terrorist attack in London in June 2017, in which attackers used vehicles to strike pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbed customers at the nearby Borough Market, a popular night-life spot, Trump took to Twitter to condemn Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor, who is Muslim.

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'” Trump wrote.

Trump had taken Khan’s comment out of context — the mayor had only been urging Londoners not to be rattled about the presence of heavily armed security forces.

After another terrorist attack, on a London subway car last September, Trump boasted of his ban on travel to the United States by Muslims. Last November, he retweeted three posts from Britain First, an extreme right-wing group, with video clips portraying Muslims in a hostile way deemed by some as Islamophobic.

So far, the queen has been largely immune from criticism. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, she meets with foreign leaders frequently at the behest of her ministers. She has greeted numerous presidents over the years who were later condemned for corruption or violence against their own citizens, including Bashar Assad of Syria, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania,Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Suharto of Indonesia.