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The ins and outs of a state visit as Donald Trump trip announced

UK News | Published:

With Mr Trump visiting the Queen in June, what can the US president expect?

Donald Trump's visit to UK

As the UK prepares to welcome American president Donald Trump, here’s a look at the workings of a state visit.

– What is a state visit?

A state visit is when a foreign monarch, president or prime minister is invited to visit the Queen on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Chinese President's state visit
The Queen shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade (Chris Jackson/PA)

– Where do state visits take place?

The Queen usually hosts her visitors at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, or sometimes at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

President Obama's state visit
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the steps of Buckingham Palace in 2011 (Ben Gurr/PA)

– What does a state visit involve?

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It usually begins with the Queen and other members of the royal family greeting the head of state with a ceremonial welcome, normally on Horse Guards Parade.

King Willem Alexander state visit to UK
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and the Prince of Wales review the Honour Guard during a ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade in London (Matt Dunham/PA)

The visiting party is invited to inspect a Guard of Honour before travelling back to Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession escorted by a large number of mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry.

– Does this always happen?

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– No. US President George W Bush’s controversial visit in 2003 was met with large protests over the Iraq War.

Queen with George Bush
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stand alongside President George Bush and his wife Laura on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in 2003 (Chris Ison/PA)

The official welcome was for the first staged at Buckingham Palace, rather than Horse Guards Parade, Windsor or Edinburgh.

Barack Obama’s state visit in 2011 also began with an official welcome inside the palace grounds.

– What else could Donald Trump expect?

There is likely to be a lunch at a royal residence, followed by a look at a display of US-related items from the Royal Collection.

Then, on the evening of the arrival day, Mr Trump would be expected to attend a lavish state banquet.

King Felipe VI's State Visit
The Queen and King Felipe VI of Spain share a toast during the state banquet at Buckingham Palace (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

– What happens at the banquet?

– The dress code is tiaras and white tie. Around 170 VIP guests – invited on the basis of their cultural, diplomatic or economic links to the country being hosted – dine on an exquisite menu prepared by royal chefs and served on historic, priceless dinner sets.

The ballroom during a state banquet
Guests in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace ahead of a state banquet (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The banquets are usually either staged in the grand Buckingham Palace Ballroom, or if at Windsor Castle, in the magnificent St George’s Hall.

Windsor Castle banquet
A state banquet in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle in 2015 (Oli Scarff/PA)

The Queen and Mr Trump would both make a speech and propose toasts to one another.

A scene at a state banquet
The Duchess of Cambridge and Chinese President Xi Jinping listen as the Queen delivers a speech (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Preparations will have begun six months before the big event. It also takes palace staff three days to lay the table.

– What else happens during a state visit?

During Mr Trump’s three-day visit from June 3 to June 5, he will meet Prime Minister Theresa May and be expected to meet government ministers and leaders of the main political parties.

Blair and Bush
Prime Minister Tony Blair with President George Bush at Downing Street during the 2003 state visit (PA)

Sometimes visitors attend another banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor and City of London Corporation, and lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, as well as other engagements.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will attend a ceremony in Portsmouth to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

– What else could we expect?

Protests. Mr Trump’s trip – which will take place amid intense security – will be highly controversial.

Trump Baby Blimp
A Trump baby blimp is inflated during a practice test at Bingfield Park in north London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The organisation Stand Up To Trump has already said campaigners will mobilise in huge numbers.

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