Trump to meet Queen Elizabeth despite chorus of discontent

When Donald Trump meets Queen Elizabeth next week, he will become the 12th US president that the monarch has met during her 66 years on the throne, the longest in British history.

Apart from Lyndon Johnson, the Queen has met every US leader since Harry S. Truman but no other US presidential encounter has generated the same level of opposition and controversy in Britain as Trump's trip.

Prime Minister Theresa May offered Trump a state visit - a pomp-laden affair usually featuring an open-top carriage trip through central London and a banquet at Buckingham Palace - when she became the first foreign leader to visit him after his inauguration in January 2017.

Only two US presidents - Barack Obama and George W. Bush - have previously been invited for full state visits. Trump will get a less lavish one than originally offered, but he will still meet the Queen and many British lawmakers have voiced objection to his coming at all.

Trump's travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries and his re-tweeting of a message posted by the deputy leader of the far-right Britain First group, who has since been jailed for religiously aggravated harassment, both led to widespread condemnation in the country.

Most recently, the separation of migrant children and parents at the US-Mexico border reignited calls for May to call off Trump's visit.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump walk along The Colonnade of the West Wing at The White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a two-day visit to the United States and will be the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump walk along The Colonnade of the West Wing at The White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a two-day visit to the United States and will be the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: British Prime Minister Theresa May with U.S. President Donald Trump walk along The Colonnade at The White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a two-day visit to the United States and will be the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump escorts British Prime Minister Theresa May after their meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) participate in a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister May is on a visit to the White House and had a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) participate in a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister May is on a visit to the White House and had a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May ,participate in a joint press conference at the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister May is on a visit to the White House and had a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister May is on a visit to the White House and had a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May ,participate in a joint press conference at the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister May is on a visit to the White House and had a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the White House Oval Office in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and US President Donald Trump shake hands beside a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: British Prime Minister Theresa May with U.S. President Donald Trump in The Oval Office at The White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a two-day visit to the United States and will be the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and US President Donald speak in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump listens while British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a press conference at the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: British Prime Minister Theresa May with U.S. President Donald Trump in The Oval Office at The White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a two-day visit to the United States and will be the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, smiles during a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. The British prime minister is planning to pitch a free-trade deal to the new U.S. leader just as the reality of a new era of protection for American workers sinks in. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"President Trump has locked up 2,000 little children in cages and is refusing to release them unless he is allowed to build a wall," opposition Labour member of parliament Gavin Shuker told May last month.

"He has quit the United Nations Human Rights Council; he has praised (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un's treatment of his own people; and he has turned away Muslims. What does this man have to do to have the invitation that the prime minister has extended revoked?"

After he was invited last year, more than 1.86 million people signed a petition saying Trump should not be given a state visit because it could embarrass the Queen.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim who has been involved in social media exchanges with the U.S. president, said Trump was not welcome in the British capital because of his divisive agenda and would face mass peaceful protests. Demonstrations are indeed planned for next week.

As a non-political head of state, Elizabeth has input but little say in who the government invites to Britain and who she meets or hosts at her royal residences.

Other lawmakers and commentators, who said the trip should go ahead, insist Britain's "special relationship" with the US goes beyond any individual and that the president should be accorded due respect.

'We are rolling out the red carpet for our most valued ally'

"Her Majesty has met ... some 'unsavory characters'. In fact, she has met some characters who have actually taken up arms against the Crown, but she has moved on from that because it is in the best interests of our nation," Martin Vickers, a member of May's Conservative Party told parliament in February.

"There is absolutely no doubt, in my judgment, that we should indeed roll out the carpet for the president. We are not rolling out the carpet for Mr Trump; we are rolling out the red carpet for our most valued ally."

Fellow lawmaker Edward Leigh said visits which might be controversial were made because they were believed to be in Britain's self-interest. "When we invited not one but two Presidents of China, we were prepared to overlook the fact that China is effectively a police state," he said.

Leigh noted Robert Mugabe had been invited to take tea with the queen. Describing the former Zimbabwean president as a "racist homophobe," he said: "We were prepared to overlook his transgressions."

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