U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Britain on Monday for a state visit, with his interventions on Brexit, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor and a row over China’s Huawei set to overshadow the pomp and a banquet with Queen Elizabeth.
Trump and his wife, Melania, will be treated to a full display of British royal pageantry during the June 3-5 visit: lunch and a formal dinner with Queen Elizabeth, tea with heir Prince Charles, and a tour of Westminster Abbey, coronation church of English monarchs for 1,000 years.
Beyond the ceremony, though, the proudly unpredictable 45th U.S. president also brings demands: He has praised a more radical Brexit-supporting potential successor to May and his envoys have urged a tougher British stance towards Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
“I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit,” Trump wrote on Twitter minutes before Air Force One landed.
Before he set off he repeated his message that there was an opportunity for a “very big trade deal” between the two countries in the near future.
In what is likely to be the most unconventional state visit in recent memory, Trump has already waded far into British domestic politics.
In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, Trump said the next British leader should send arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage to conduct talks with the EU.
Trump repeated his backing for those candidates to succeed May who have said Britain must leave on the due date of Oct. 31 with or without a deal.
Brexit is the most significant geopolitical move for the United Kingdom since World War Two and if it ever happens then London will be more reliant on the United States as ties loosen with the other 27 members of the EU.
At a meeting with May, Trump will also warn Britain that security cooperation could be hurt if London allows China’s Huawei a role in building parts of the 5G network, the next generation of cellular technology.
Britain’s so-called special relationship with the United States is an enduring alliance, but some British voters see Trump as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on issues ranging from global warming to his treatment of women.