EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump to visit UK in the new year – but it’s no State Visit and there will be no tea with the Queen
is set to visit Britain early in 2018 – but for a stripped-down trip that will not include staying with the Queen.
Diplomats are discussing plans for a “working visit” by the US president that will be shorn of the pomp and flummery of a full-blown State Visit.
And instead of a red carpet event to showcase the special relationship, it is likely to form part of a tour of several countries by Mr Trump.
The downgrading of Mr Trump’s first trip as President to the UK follows the huge controversy when Theresa May tried to steal a march on other world leaders by offering a State Visit as guest of the Queen that was intended to take place this summer, breaching a convention that the honour is usually reserved for a president’s second term.
There were threats of boycotts and mass protests when the VIP treatment was announced – with Commons Speaker John Bercow declaring that the President would not be allowed to address the House of Commons.
The visit was then postponed indefinitely, although the invitation is expected to be taken up at some stage.
In May Mr Trump toured the Vatican and met the Pope (AFP/Getty Images)
Britain has since watched as Mr Trump visited a list of major world capitals. He joined Emmanuel Macron in Paris with their wives for the Bastille Day festivities in July, shortly after having talks with Angela Merkel and attending a G20 summit in Hamburg.
In May Mr Trump toured the Vatican and met the Pope. He also was visited King Philippe of Belgium at the Royal Palace in Brussels, before talks with Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Union headquarters and a working lunch with French President Macron at the US Embassy.
British and US sources say the full State visit to the UK will go ahead at some stage but no dates are being discussed.
Other controversial state visits
In October 2015, the Queen received Chinese president Xi Jinpingon a four-day state visit described by Her Majesty as a “defining moment” in Sino-UK relations, including a lavish state banquet, the dinner table laid with gold. Mr Xi has been accused of leading China back to dictatorship by cracking down brutally on dissent.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates arrived on a two-day state visit in April 2013. The Sheikh received a guard of honour before being treated to lunch by the Queen at Windsor Castle. The visit came amid claims that three Britons were tortured in Dubai before being jailed over drug charges.
During Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s three-day state visit in October 2012, he was whisked off to Buckingham Palace for a private lunch with the Queen. Protesters denounced alleged torture in Indonesia and accused Britain of putting commercial interests ahead of human rights.
Russian president Vladimir Putin was pictured riding a carriage with the Queen during a pomp-and-circumstance state visit in June 2003. A banquet at Buckingham Palace included poached salmon, pan-fried spring chicken in champagne, and French wines. Human rights activists timed protests to coincide with the trip, highlighting Russia’s involvement in the brutal Chechnyan wars.
The Queen welcomed Japanese Emperor Akihito in May 1998, riding with him in a horse-drawn carriage. A banquet was laid on. The Emperor spoke of his “deep sorrow and pain” over his country’s actions during the Second World War but controversially did not mention the treatment of prisoners of war in Japanese camps. Protestors demonstrated at the Japanese embassy and Westminster Abbey.
In 1978, the Queen entertained Romania’s communist dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu on a full state visit, even giving his wife a gold brooch. His regime had tens of thousands of political prisoners and a state programme to force women to procreate. Ceaucescu was later executed by firing squad.
The stripped down working visit in 2018 is expected to be far less controversial than a Royal welcome because it will centre on global security discussions.
Mr Trump sees Britain as a key ally in his attempt to put pressure on the rogue leadership of North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons threats.
Trump enjoyed a lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron at the top of the Eiffel Tower earlier this year (Reuters)
He is also trying to allay international concern that a nuclear deal with Iran brokered by Barack Obama is being dismantled.
The President may also cut the ribbon on the brand new US embassy which is close to completion at Nine Elms, near Battersea Power Station.
Recent State Visits to the United Kingdom – In pictures
But he will not sleep at Buckingham Palace as the guest of the Queen, probably staying at the residence of the new US ambassador Woody Johnson instead.
A source close to Sadiq Khan said the Mayor of London, who led criticism of the State Visit invitation, would not object to a working visit.
President Donald Trump meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a trip to Europe earlier this year (AP)
Sources have told the Evening Standard that no date has yet been fixed but the working visit is planned for early in 2018.
The Foreign Office said a State Visit would go ahead at some stage. “Our position on the State Visit has not changed – an offer has been extended and President Trump has accepted.
“Exact dates for President Trump to visit have not yet been arranged.”
A US embassy source said there were “not currently” any plans for a working visit.