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Donald Trump really wants to meet the Queen, says US ambassador

The US president will ‘definitely’ come to London on his July 13 visit, despite warnings of protests.

Theresa May held talks with Mr Trump on the margins of the G20 summit (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Theresa May held talks with Mr Trump on the margins of the G20 summit (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Donald Trump “really wants” to meet the Queen when he visits the UK, the US ambassador to Britain has confirmed.

Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson said that details of the president’s activities during his UK trip on July 13 were yet to be finalised, but said he would “definitely” be coming to London, despite warnings of likely demonstrations.

Mr Johnson told LBC radio that Mr Trump was “thick-skinned” enough to deal with protests, and suggested that he might be able to win over critics such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Khan responded to Thursday’s announcement of the July visit by saying that in London, Mr Trump would “experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear. He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear.”

Concern over possible demonstrations is thought to have played a part in the cancellation of a trip to open the new US embassy in London earlier this year, though Mr Trump blamed it on his anger over the “bad deal” America got on the site south of the Thames.

The threat of protests is also believed to be behind the postponement of a state visit mooted for 2017.

That trip – which would involve lavish ceremonies and a stay with the Queen at Buckingham Palace – has been put off indefinitely, though Number 10 insists the invitation stands.

And Mr Johnson said it may take place in 2019, telling LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I don’t think it’s a snub. That state visit will be put off a little bit, but maybe next year he will do that. I think so.”

The ambassador was unable to confirm who Mr Trump will meet in July, but asked if it could include the Queen, he said: “I think he really wants to meet the Queen.

“I think he has a really positive view, he knows that the value-added of the royal family and what they bring to the table is enormous. You can really see it from an American perspective maybe even clearer than you can see it here.”

Asked how concerned the president is about the prospect of protests, Mr Johnson said: “He’s very thick-skinned. He knows what he wants to do and he speaks in a very clear and unusual way from most politicians.

“Most politicians don’t weigh it out the way he does and so he is going to get a lot of criticism for that as people interpret where he is taking everything.

“But I think in the end, people are starting to, even now, realise that where he is going is a good direction.”

While Mr Khan and Mr Bercow were “not in sync” with the president’s views at present, “I think Mayor Khan and the Speaker might realise he has the potential to bring so much to the table, particularly during Brexit and after Brexit, on the prosperity agenda and the military agenda, they might change their opinion”, said the ambassador.

Full details of the trip are yet to be announced, although various media reports have said Mr Trump will meet the Queen.

Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral have been tipped as locations for the royal encounter.

Meanwhile the visit will provide Theresa May with an opportunity to highlight the importance of the “special relationship” between the UK and US – and push for the prize of a trade deal after Brexit.

In a sign of the difficulties in dealing with the Trump White House, Number 10 had hoped to co-ordinate releasing details of the trip, but the president’s press secretary Sarah Sanders slipped out the information first during a “take your child to work day” event.

The Prime Minister said: “I am looking forward to welcoming President Trump to the United Kingdom for a working visit on July 13.”

Downing Street said further details of the visit will be set out “in due course”.

Asked if Mrs May had a message for people planning to protest against Mr Trump’s visit, a Downing Street spokesman said: “I think we have a vital and strong relationship with the US, but we are a free and open democracy.”

Even supporters of Mr Trump’s visit have urged him to stay away from London in an effort to avoid mass demonstrations.

In a letter to the US president, six conservative groups recommended he should instead focus his visit on his “ancestral home” of Scotland, including a meeting with the Queen at Balmoral.

Plans for a working visit to the UK in 2018 were announced when Mr Trump met Mrs May at Davos in January.

The July 13 date follows the Nato summit which the president is due to attend in Brussels on the preceding days.

Mr Trump, whose mother was born on the Isle of Lewis, made frequent visits to Scotland before becoming president.

His last trip came during the presidential campaign in June 2016, when he visited his golf resorts.

Mr Johnson said that a lot of the Trump style could be traced back to his Scottish roots.

“The Scots are tough and argumentative,” he said. “All the things he brings to the table to the American people come from Scotland.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph