NEWS
12/07/2018 13:52 BST | Updated 13/07/2018 01:09 BST

Trump Arrives At Blenheim Palace On First Day Of Visit To UK As US President

The US president will be here for four days.

US President Donald Trump has arrived at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire for a gala black tie dinner on the first day of his working visit to the UK.

Trump and his wife Melania flew from London by Marine One helicopter and swept into the palace courtyard in the armoured presidential limousine nicknamed The Beast.

They were greeted by May, dressed in an ankle-length red gown and red high-heeled shoes, and her husband Philip, dressed in black tie. Mrs Trump wore a floor-length yellow ballgown.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protestors gathered in the nearby town, as they did in close to the grounds of the US ambassador residence in Regent’s Park in London, where the Trumps had departed from.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters
British Prime Minster Theresa May and her husband Philip stand together with U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the entrance to Blenheim Palace.

Invited guests, including a number of business leaders, will eat dinner to a performance by the Countess of Wessex’s Orchestra, which will play a “series of classic British and American hits”.

They will be eating a three course meal of Scottish salmon, Hereford beef and strawberries with clotted cream. 

Trump, whose mother was Scottish, will then be piped out at the end by the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The evening started with a military ceremony in the palace’s Great Court performed by the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh guards. Patriotic American songs, the Liberty Fanfare, Amazing Grace and the National Emblem were performed.

Peter Nicholls / Reuters

As the US President approached a set of stairs, he appeared to take the Prime Minister’s arm.

Trump patted May’s hands as they began to take their first steps up the stair case. The Prime Minister then quickly let go of the US President’s hand before guiding him towards where he should stand to listen to the band.

It was a repeat of the  Trump and May’s hand-holding in the White House last year which Downing Street said was a “chivalrous” act.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters

The president and first lady will then fly by helicopter to Winfield House in London, where they will be hosted by his ambassador Woody Johnson before a busy day on Friday.

Trump set foot in the UK for his first official visit since taking office earlier in the day.

Air Force One landed safely at Stansted Airport at 13.52 after flying in from Brussels where the US president had attended the Nato summit.

Trump’s military entourage arrived at the Essex airport well before the US president – who was delayed at a Nato summit in Brussels after he made a surprise press conference about defence spending. 

Reporters also asked him how he felt how the planned mass demonstrations against his visit to which he replied: “It’s fine. They like me a lot in the UK.”

Following the impromptu conference, his motorcade was seen leaving the summit and heading to the airport.

Awaiting him on the tarmac on Thursday afternoon were three Osprey helicopters belonging to the US Marines, which are used to transport the President’s staff and security detail on overseas trips.

Two White Hawk helicopters staffed by military officers in dress uniform were waiting nearby.

Press were asked to don neon orange vests while a flatbed truck was stationed on the tarmac to ensure photographers and cameramen got the best view of Mr Trump’s arrival.

Ahead of his arrival, his son Eric landed at Aberdeen Airport on Thursday morning and spoke about his family’s love of both Scotland and the UK.

Asked about his father’s visit and US-UK relations, he said: “He has worked here for so many years, he knows so many people. His mother – my grandmother – is from Scotland.

Leon Neal via Getty Images
The US president and first lady arrive at Stansted Airport.

“We just love this country, we love the UK in general and it’s a big part of our lives. It’s a big part of his life, pre-politics, and that can only be a positive.”

Trump and his wife Melania later flew by helicopter the US ambassador’s residence in Regents Park before heading to the new US embassy for a meet and greet.

The Trump landed on Marine One in front of Winfield House as Beatles music was playing the background.

They were accompanied by the US ambassador Woody Johnson as they walked hand in hand towards a large group of people waiting to meet them.

PA Wire/PA Images
A helicopter of the US Marine Corps comes into land at the residence of the US Ambassador in London's Regent's Park.

In the morning he will visit a defence site with May to watch a demonstration of the UK’s military capabilities and “integrated US military training” before the pair travel to Chequers - the prime minister’s country residence in Buckinghamshire - for bilateral talks.

Melania Trump, meanwhile, will be in the city at an event to meet schoolchildren and veterans with May’s husband Phillip, Downing Street has revealed.

Later that day, she will rejoin the President at Windsor Castle where they will meet the Queen and have tea with her. On arrival a guard of honour, formed of the Coldstream Guards, will give a royal salute and the US national anthem will be played.

The Queen and Trump will also inspect the guard of honour before watching the military march past.

On the final leg of the tour, the couple will fly to Scotland, where they plan to spend the weekend and where Trump is expected to hit the golf course. 

It is understood that, despite speculation, the Duke of York is not expected to play golf with Trump during his visit.

The US ambassador was forced to deny that Trump’s itinerary has been designed to keep him away from protests expected in London.

Around 50,000 people are expected to march in central London on Friday with demonstrators making their way through the city before a large rally takes place in Trafalgar Square.

The organisers say the march is part of a “carnival of resistance” taking place across the UK in response to the US president’s visit, with protests expected in Cambridge, Bristol and Leeds and near Blenheim Palace. 

Asked whether the president was aware of planned protests – including a “Trump baby” balloon being flown over Parliament – Johnson said: “I think we are all aware of these things but the president is focused on what his objectives are.

“He appreciates free speech, both in this country and in our country. It is one of the things that bind us together.

“This is a short trip. It is absolutely packed with things that he has to do. There is a lot of organisation and planning that went into it. He will be spending a lot of time in central London, using that as a base.

“The president is not avoiding anything. The president is merely trying to get as impactful a trip as he can get in a 24-hour period.”