UPDATED: Tens of thousands of protesters marched in London on Friday against Donald Trump’s visit to Britain, in one of the largest demonstrations seen anywhere outside the U.S. against the sitting president.
Marchers who started gathering Friday morning hoisted placards condemning Trump as a sexist and a racist, banged pots and pans, and chanted in anger. One sign proclaimed: “Super callous fragile racist sexist nasty POTUS.” By mid-afternoon, protesters who snaked their way through some of London’s most famous streets began converging on Trafalgar Square in the heart of the British capital.
“He doesn’t have the same values as us, and I don’t think he has the same values as the Americans that we love,” one man told Sky News. “This isn’t anti-American. It’s anti-Trump.”
A much-ballyhooed balloon of Trump as a snarling baby in diapers flew over the houses of Parliament for a couple of hours Friday morning, with hundreds of people cheering as it floated upward and organizers hoping to bring it to other stops on Trump’s tour of Britain, especially Turnberry in Scotland, where he will play golf at his resort Saturday.
On Friday, Trump’s official events were all set for outside London, away from the major protests, which appeared to be a concession to his famously thin skin. “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” Trump told the Sun tabloid. “I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?”
A pro-Trump demonstration in London has been scheduled for Saturday.
Trump met with British Prime Minister Theresa May at her official country residence, Chequers, on Friday morning. He and First Lady Melania Trump are scheduled to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle in the late afternoon.
Before his meeting with May, Trump had already dismayed her team by breaching diplomatic protocol and criticizing her handling of Brexit negotiations in his interview with the Sun. He also said a rival politician, Boris Johnson, would make a “great prime minister.” The comments infuriated some of May’s Conservative Party colleagues, including one who tweeted, “Where are your manners, Mr. President?” and another who chided Trump for diminishing “the standing of the great country he is meant to lead.”
The outpouring of public opposition against him on the streets of London was composed of two separate gatherings, a women’s march that began in the morning and a demonstration by the Stop Trump coalition scheduled in the afternoon.
A few women came dressed as characters from Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” including a 31-year-old American, Chantel Parsons, who told the BBC: “I left Washington, D.C., to get away from Trump, and now he’s here. It’s a good atmosphere today and we’re standing together.”
Demonstrators also gathered outside Windsor Castle, where a sign declared: “Off with his head!”