So much for those threats of a ‘carnival of resistance’. It was a spectacular carnival of pageantry which greeted Donald Trump last night as he finally paid his first presidential visit to the UK.
On the magnificent forecourt of Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace, our greatest non-royal residence, the American President was feted with a stunning personalised twilight parade and recital by the Massed Bands of the Household Division.
Short of Trooping the Trump Colour, this was about as good as it gets for a visiting leader.
It concluded with bagpipes from the land of Mr Trump’s mother’s birth serenading the President with a peerless Amazing Grace, before he was led in to dinner by Theresa May.
And in they went hand-in-hand, just as they had walked in to the White House on their first meeting.
It was a spectacular carnival of pageantry which greeted Donald Trump last night as he finally paid his first presidential visit to the UK
Pictured: Jeremy Hunt MP adjusting his bowtie
Protesters gathered at the security fence watch as US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump leave in Marine One from the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House
Last night’s affair was the quasi-state banquet for what was originally supposed to have been a state visit.
At least it involved a bona fide palace and royal music (the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards plus the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra).
The arrival of Donald and Melania Trump was even heralded by the state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry – last seen on American telly welcoming another American citizen, Meghan Markle, to her own wedding in May.
As with Windsor Castle, here was another unbeatable global advertisement for the British tourist industry.
Inside the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the President was treated to an impeccably patriotic dinner of Scottish salmon, Hereford beef and strawberries and (Cornish) clotted cream. The birthplace of Winston Churchill could hardly have looked more regal, Vanbrugh’s Cotswold stone grand entrance bathed in the honeyed glow of a perfect summer evening.
This is a stately home which remains in fabulous condition thanks, in part, to an earlier American billionaire (William Vanderbilt, the Victorian railroad tycoon, whose daughter Consuelo married the debt-ridden ninth Duke).
Dignitaries including International Trade minister Liam Fox (centre) awaited the President’s arrival for the Blenheim dinner
Mrs May said that the history, language, values and culture shared by the UK and US ‘inspire mutual respect’ and make the two nations ‘not just the closest of allies, but the dearest of friends’
US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May stand on steps in the Great Court watching and listening to the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards perform a ceremonial welcome
Several protesters hold up their placards outside Blenheim Palace, where President Donald Trump will have dinner tonight
The royal component of this trip will come today when the Trumps fly in to Windsor for tea with the Queen before disappearing to the President’s Ayrshire golfing resort for the weekend. After all the squawking, he is finding the natives here are not nearly as hostile as had been predicted.
Earlier, his Marine One helicopter descended on the US ambassador’s lawn in London to be greeted by two Palestinian protesters plus one dog and a shouty man pushing a bicycle, all gathered on the other side of a heavily policed security fence.
By yesterday evening, as the first organised demonstration against this tour assembled outside Winfield House, the US Embassy residence, the numbers had increased to around 100 people with whistles, tambourines, Socialist Worker placards and ‘Stop The War’ signs.
We had been promised a ‘wall of sound’. However, the banging of a dozen saucepans and a modest chant of ‘f*** Trump’ was soon drowned out by the sound of Marine One taking off again as Donald and Melania set off for