NEWS
06/06/2019 8:49 AM IST

Donald Trump Has Left The UK – Here's What The Hell Just Happened

It could have been worse.

Before Donald Trump had even landed in the UK, he’d called Meghan Markle “nasty”, branded London’s mayor a “stone cold loser” and waded into the Tory battle for the next prime minister.

Amid all the pomp and ceremony of his controversial visit, which was met with protests across the country, there were multiple opportunities for the president to produce one of his characteristic gaffes.

He met the entire Royal family, navigated the serious commemorations for D-Day, all while the political landscape raged behind him as the Tory leadership hopefuls all jostling for an endorsement.

So it was a pleasant surprise when the bulk of the US president’s state visit to Britain passed without incident.

Well, as in all things when it comes to Donald Trump, relatively speaking, that is.

Charles McQuillan via Getty Images
Donald Trump arriving in Ireland after leaving the UK on Wednesday.

Monday

08:51 - incoming

The wheels of Air Force One hadn’t even touched the runway at Stansted when the president announced his imminent arrival with this adversarial tweet about the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. 

It came after Khan used an op-ed article to describe Trump as “a 21st Century fascist”.

However, most Brits were distracted from the spat by a massive penis that student and environmentalist Ollie Nancarrow had etched into the English countryside to mark the US president’s arrival. 

09:00 – he landed

Joe Giddens - PA Images via Getty Images

Trump hadn’t even had time to sort his hair out before he was pounced upon by Jeremy Hunt, but that didn’t stop having another go at, you guessed it, Sadiq Khan.

Hunt, who is a candidate in the Tory leadership race, said Trump voiced his “strong views about the Mayor of London”.

09:30 - The ‘tremendous crowds of well wishers’

As the substantial presidential motorcade made its way into central London, Trump noticed what would become a recurring theme over the course of the next three days.

“Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our Country,” he wrote on Twitter of his reception in London. “Haven’t seen any protests yet but sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them.”

But there was one problem – the streets were largely empty as he drove through the capital, as evidenced by numerous pictures of the route.

Toby Melville / Reuters

10:00 - ‘Whatever you do Mr President, don’t walk in front of the Queen. Again.’

One of the more awkward moments of Trump’s UK visit in July last year was the moment he walked in front of the Queen, who had to point him in the right direction.

But this time, the US president was welcomed by the Royal family to Buckingham Palace and the whole thing passed without a hitch.

Well, almost. Trump was greeted by the Queen on the West Terrace of Buckingham Palace, her official London residence, but their handshake was a bit of a shambles, with some people pointing out it resembled more of a fist bump.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were the first members of the royal family to meet Trump as he left his official helicopter, which landed in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

The American national anthem was played as the royal party and their guests stepped from the palace, and Trump was invited to inspect the guard of honour.

One moment that lightened the mood? When Camilla gave a cheeky wink to the camera as Prince Charles led Trump away.

Oh, and there was also the look on Prince Harry’s face as he came face-to-face with the man who just days earlier had called his wife “nasty”.

MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

Ouch.

12:00 - the protests begin

Last year an estimated 250,000 people crammed into Trafalgar Square to protest Trump’s visit but a repeat of these scenes would be seen at any point this time around.

Some 50 Brixton Against Trump supporters congregated in Windrush Square in Brixton, to make banners and placards ahead of the mass demonstration planned in central London on Tuesday. 

Nadine White

Rahel Patel of Stand Up To Racism told HuffPost UK: “The state visit shouldn’t be happening.

“Trump should not be welcomed here - the majority of people in the UK don’t want him. He’s only here because the British government is in crisis and they think that, somehow, he can be used to alleviate the problems that they have put themselves in.”

19:00 - The fancy dinner

To the disappointment of newsrooms across the country, Trump’s eagerly-anticipated state banquet at Buckingham Palace was remarkable for its lack of controversy.

PA Wire/PA Images

One moment where the president came close to putting a foot wrong? Trump appeared to breach accepted protocol by touching the the Queen on the back as she rose for his toast.

“Trump briefly and gently put his left hand out behind the monarch,” reported the Press Association. “The Queen seemed unperturbed.”

Guests washed down their dinner with wines costing from £38 up to £1,400, but not Trump – who is teetotal.

Here’s the menu in full.

  • Steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse, asparagus spears and chervil sauce.
  • Saddle of new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables, port sauce.
  • Strawberry sable with lemon verbena cream.
  • Selection of assorted fresh fruits.
  • Coffee and petit fours.

Oh, and did we mention Trump’s family was with him for the trip? Here’s Jared and Ivanka looking totally normal.

Tuesday

11:00 - The protests

Tuesday was supposed to be all about the anti-Trump protests, but despite the return of the Trump Baby blimp, the crowds failed to reach the hundreds of thousands seen last year.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivered a speech in opposition to the US president – after he said he had “turned down” a meeting with Trump.

But this came back to bite him later on when Trump revealed that Corbyn offered to meet but the US president refused, branding the Labour leader as a “something of a negative force”. 

Addressing the rally, the Labour leader lambasted Trump, telling him he will defend “our precious NHS” in US-UK trade talks, after the president suggested the national health service could be on the table in negotiations after Brexit. 

12:00 – Meanwhile, at Downing Street

Trump’s meeting with Theresa May was carefully watched for signs that the president was treating the PM as a bit of a lame duck, given that she is standing down on Friday.

But in an awkward moment as the leaders and their spouses met, Trump and May failed to shake each other’s hands.

May and her husband Philip shook hands with First Lady Melania Trump, while the president only shook hands with Philip.

14:00 - The press conference

Donald Trump doesn’t often do press conferences anymore given that he invariably says something outrageous, like failing to fully criticise neo-Nazis for example.

But again, there was a distinct lack of Trumpism when he and May took questions from the world’s media in Downing Street.

He even came across as quite nice. Trump praised May’s November Brexit deal with Brussels, which British lawmakers voted down three times in parliament earlier this year.

“I would have sued, but that’s OK,” he smiled. “I would have sued and settled, maybe, but you never know – she’s probably a better negotiator than I am.”

He added: “Perhaps you won’t be given the credit you deserve if they do something, but I think you deserve a lot of credit, I really do.”

The US president also said his country was ready to do a “phenomenal” deal with Britain that could double or triple trade between the two countries.

But in comments which will be met with stiff resistance in the UK, he added: “I think everything with a trade deal is on the table.

“When you’re dealing with trade, everything is on the table, so NHS or anything else, a lot more than that, but everything will be on the table absolutely.”

18:41 - Don’t forget about Farage

Despite not being part of any official itinerary, Nigel Farage popped up on Twitter on Tuesday evening to reveal he had met with Trump at the US ambassador’s residence in London.

Wednesday

06:00 - The Piers Morgan interview

In what appears to now be a tradition, it was revealed on Wednesday morning that Trump had given his only TV interview while visiting the UK to his long-time friend and fan, Piers Morgan, on his breakfast show Good Morning Britain.

The pair covered a wide range of topics, most notably a a particularly confusing segment, Trump attempted to clear up reports he called Meghan Markle “nasty” by essentially repeating the accusation

The interview of course allowed Britain to engage in another national tradition – arguing about Morgan on Twitter.

 

And finally...

Last up on Trump’s itinerary was a trip to Portsmouth where world leaders representing the allied nations who took part in the D-Day landings took part in commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of the second world war campaign. 

For once the US president wasn’t the centre of attention – that honour went to the 300 veterans there to honour their fallen comrades.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Trump headed to Ireland to meet with the country’s taoiseach (prime minister), Leo Varadkar, in the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport, before travelling to his nearby golf resort at Doonbeg.

The US leader then travels to France on Thursday to observe D-Day events in Normandy, before heading back to the States on Friday.