U.S. Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson has opened up on the details of President Donald Trump and Melania Trump’s first-ever meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle next Friday.
Johnson told reporters on Friday that “a highlight of any President’s visit to the U.K. [is when]the President and First Lady will travel to Windsor Castle to meet Her Majesty the Queen. As head of state, Her Majesty has met every U.S. president since 1952 (amazing) – with only one exception and that’s Lyndon B. Johnson. I know the President and First Lady are really looking forward to meeting her.”
The meeting caps more than 18 months of will-they-or-won’t-they speculation about a possible meeting between Trump and the Queen, as the U.S. president has shocked and offended many U.K. residents, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has previously said the country should not “roll out the red carpet” for Trump.
Khan also recently approved a petition for a 20-foot balloon of an angry, orange, diaper-clad infant dubbed “Trump Baby” to fly over the British Parliament Square next Friday during his visit.
Johnson also addressed the protests — including the “Trump Baby” balloon — in his remarks on Friday, confirming they are “aware” they are happening.
“Yes we are all aware of these things. The president is keenly focused on what his objectives are,” Johnson said. “He appreciates free speech both in this country and in our country – it’s one of the things that binds them together, the freedoms that we share. But I know he is very focused on the special relationship and making sure that that’s improved and our prosperity and security are enhanced on this trip.”
Johnson also told reporters that his boss knows the U.K. “probably better than any president in recent history. This is where his mother was born – actually in Lewis, in the outer hebridies of Scotland. The president knows how important the special relationship is first hand and that’s why the bust of Churchill is actually in the Oval Office as we speak. This is not an accident.”
Trump’s upcoming trip will not be a full-blown state visit, complete with the pomp and ceremony of a Buckingham Palace meeting and military welcome. Rather, it’s considered a working visit and is the first time Trump has been in the country since his 2016 election.
The invitation to the U.K. for a state visit – which was made and accepted shortly after his inauguration in January 2017 — still stands. But it has been put on hold amid the threat of protests and a petition saying he shouldn’t be afforded the privilege of a full state visit. President Trump was previously set for a working visit to open the new U.S. embassy in London, but he decided not to travel as he didn’t agree with the previous Obama administration’s choice of venue for the diplomatic home.