US President Donald Trump was met with the full pomp and ceremony of a state visit as he was welcomed to the UK by the Queen.
A formal ceremonial welcome, followed by lunch at Buckingham Palace with senior royals, kickstarted a three-day visit.
The traditional trappings took place against a somewhat controversial backdrop, after the US leader launched a Twitter tirade against the London mayor, “fake news” and China.
Mr Trump, an avid tweeter, did not hold back in sharing his thoughts online even before he had stepped foot on the tarmac at Stansted on Monday morning, branding Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser”.
Shortly before the visit, he had had to deny calling the Duchess of Sussex “nasty” when he was recently confronted with comments she made before the 2016 US elections saying she would leave the country if he won.
Asked at the White House on Sunday evening if he was willing to apologise to the royal family, or to clarify the comments made to The Sun’s political editor, Mr Trump replied: “No, I made no bad comment. Thank you.”
But there was no sign of any awkwardness as Mr Trump was greeted by Meghan’s father-in-law the Prince of Wales shortly after midday.
The US president and the First Lady chatted with Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in the palace gardens after being helicoptered in on Marine One.
After exchanging pleasantries and a handshake with the Queen, the US leader accompanied the heir to the throne during a traditional inspection of the Grenadier Guards on the sprawling lawn.
Watching from a palace balcony overlooking the garden was Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband – the president’s adviser Jared Kushner.
The Duke of Sussex was among those to join the Trumps inside the palace for a private lunch.
As Mr Trump later viewed an exhibition of American artefacts and other items from the Royal Collection, Harry entered the palace’s picture gallery alongside Ivanka Trump, but remained mostly at the far end of the room for the duration.
The Queen gifted Mr and Mrs Trump a first edition of The Second World War by Winston Churchill, a three-piece Duofold pen set and a specially commissioned silver box with a handcrafted enamel lid.
A visit to Westminster Abbey, where the Trumps were met by the Duke of York, preceded tea at Clarence House with Charles and Camilla, ahead of the splendour of a state banquet back at Buckingham Palace on Monday evening.
Ahead of his royal engagements, Mr Trump had appeared to use some downtime shortly after arriving at the US ambassador’s residence in Winfield House to air his views online, criticising US channel CNN and China.
Following his criticism of Mr Khan, the mayor’s office fired back, saying Mr Trump was offering “childish insults which should be beneath the president of the United States”.
.@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
As he landed, Mr Trump sent two tweets, spelling the London mayor’s name “Kahn” in one and in another writing: “@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.”
On Sunday, Mr Khan described the president as “just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” and compared the language he has used to that of the “fascists of the 20th century”.
Mr Trump had already created a considerable degree of political turbulence ahead of the visit, with comments in recent days on the Tory leadership race and Brexit.