President Donald Trump has touched down in the U.K. for his first official state visit.
But before his arrival, Trump made waves, telling British tabloid The Sun that he thinks Boris Johnson would “do a very good job” as the next Prime Minister and told them in the same interview that Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle was “nasty,” a comment he later denied.
Trump also doubled down on his long-standing spat with London Mayor Sadiq Khan before arriving Monday, taking to Twitter to claim that the mayor, who “has done a terrible job…has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom.”
Trump continued, saying that Khan is a “stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London,” and likened him to the “very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio.” Despite this, Trump wrote that he looked forward to “being a great friend to the United Kingdom” and was looking forward to his visit.
The tweets appeared to be in response to an op-ed Khan wrote in The Guardian over the weekend, entitled “It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump.” In the op-ed, Khan called Trump “one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” of the far right, likening the American president to Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France, and Nigel Farage in the U.K.
Khan wrote that each of these leaders are relying on the divisive messaging of 20th century fascists while “using new sinister methods to deliver their message.” He proceeded to call it “un-British to be rolling out the red carpet” for such a leader, noting that such behavior “flies in the face of the ideals America was founded upon—equality, liberty and religious freedom.”
Upon arrival, Trump received a royal salute and made his way to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family—with the exception of Markle, who is looking after her newborn son. After having lunch with the Queen and tea with Prince Charles and Camilla, there will be a state banquet Monday evening.
Not everyone is looking forward to Trump’s visit, though. In what is perhaps a moment of deja vu, protesters are planning a demonstration in central London, similar to the thousands of protesters who took over the streets last July, as well as in Manchester, Belfast, and Birmingham.
The baby blimp that made an appearance will also fly again this week. The team behind it said the Trump ballon would be flown at various locations near Trump throughout his visit, starting on Tuesday morning, after they raised more than $50,000 to fund its flight.
State broadcaster the BBC also invited a smaller replica of the balloon into its studios Monday. It appeared as part of an interview with Stop Trump Coalition organizer Anna Vickerstaff on Victoria Derbyshire’s show.
Even Sky used the balloon in its promo for its coverage of Trump’s state visit, with a tongue-in-cheek video depicting a dark cloud flying over the country. At the end of the spot, the cloud is revealed to be the baby blimp.
Khan and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had their own messages for Trump on Monday. Taking to Twitter, Corbyn wrote, “Tomorrow’s protest against Donald Trump’s state visit is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he’s attacked in America, around the world and in our own country—including, just this morning, @SadiqKhan.”
Khan, meanwhile, shared a video he made with Elle UK, that echoed some of the messages from his earlier op-ed.
“President Trump, if you’re watching this,” it begins, “your values and what you stand for are the complete opposite of London’s values and the values in this country.”
“We think diversity is not a weakness, diversity is a strength, we respect women and we think they are equal to men, we think it’s important to safeguard the rights of all of us, particularly the vulnerable and the marginalized.”
After touching on “a rolling back of the reproductive rights of women” in the U.S., Khan argues that “the fight for gender equality shouldn’t just be a fight for women and girls. All of us should be feminist, and that means men and boys, too.” He then references a line from Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, asking, “how can all of us benefit when half of us are held back?”
“Only weak men fear strong women,” the video concludes.
Trump will meet outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, as well as meet with business leaders, participate in a news conference, and attend a dinner at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. He will then participate in a D-Day ceremony in Portsmouth on Wednesday, before stopping in Ireland on his way to France.
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