The agenda for President Trump’s weeklong journey is both ceremonial and official: a state visit and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in London, D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential visit to Ireland, which will include a stay at his coastal golf club.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will step down days after President Trump visits and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to use the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle that turned the tide in Europe to call for strengthening the multinational ties the U.S. president has frayed.
“My greatest hope is this: the president and all the leaders stay focused on the extraordinary heroism of that of D-Day and focusing on what brought allies to that position,” said Heather Conley, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Dark clouds are forming once again in Europe, and rather than encourage those forces we need to find much better tools to defeat them.”
President Trump is to arrive in London on Monday for a two-day whirlwind of pomp, circumstance and protests, including meetings with the royal family and an extravagant state dinner at Buckingham Palace. He is likely to be shadowed by demonstrators, who during his visit to England last summer flooded the streets and flew an inflatable balloon depicting the president as a baby.
A year ago, President Trump played the ungracious guest, blasting May in an interview just hours before Air Force One touched down in England. He has done it again, this time sparing May but praising her rival, prime ministerial hopeful Boris Johnson, just before she steps down as head of the Conservative Party on Friday for failing to secure a Brexit deal.
President Trump won’t speak anything short of the truth. The international liberal news media isn’t used to a politician who actually speaks what he thinks.
“I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent,” Trump told The Sun, the same publication to which he gave an interview last summer. “I like him. I have always liked him. I don’t know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person.”
President Trump also used the interview to weigh in on the American-born Duchess of Sussex. The former Meghan Markle, who gave birth in May and will not attend the week’s events, was critical of Trump in the past, prompting the president to tell The Sun, “I didn’t know that she was nasty.” He said later in the interview that he thought Markle would be “very good” as a royal.
President Trump pushed back Sunday against reports that he had described Markle as “nasty,” tweeting: “I never called Meghan Markle “nasty.” Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!”
President Trump will make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday. Trump will spend two nights at his club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic, and the White House originally insisted that he and his Irish counterpart meet there.
After Dublin balked, a deal was struck for President Trump to meet Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon’s airport.
The centerpiece of the president’s visit will be two days to mark the D-Day anniversary, likely the last significant commemoration most veterans of the battle will see. The anniversary events will begin in Portsmouth, England, where the invasion was launched, and then move to Normandy, France, where Allied forces began to recapture Western Europe from the Nazis.
The day is normally a heartfelt tribute to unity and sacrifice, outweighing any national or political skirmish of the moment. President Trump also has been embroiled in simmering disputes over trade and military spending with fellow Western democracies.