Large Protests, Baby Blimp Greet Trump In London And The U.K.

28 minutes ago

A baby blimp mocking President Trump floated over London on Friday, an emblem of protests that are expected to draw thousands of people who are angry with the American president's policies – and his views of their nation.

The protests had been expected and promised – and after Trump arrived in England on Thursday, he fanned the fire anew, giving an interview with a tabloid in which he gave scathing critiques of Prime Minister Theresa May, his host for the visit between allies.

As he has done in the past, Trump also targeted London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who approved the protesters' plan to fly a Trump blimp.

It was a matter of free speech and protest, even if it offends someone, Khan told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, adding that both Americans and Britons should be proud of that tradition.

"The key thing is, it should be done in a peaceful manner, it should be good-spirited," Khan added.

Trump acknowledged that he knew about the plan to float a blimp caricature, telling The Sun, ""I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London."

The blimp depicts an angry-looking Trump-like figure in a diaper; a cellphone sits in its right hand. The protest balloon's launch drew a large crowd to London's Parliament Square, and media outlets covered the process of the baby blimp being inflated and lifting off into the sky.

One man in the crowd held up a sign addressed to Trump that read, "You know your name means fart here, right?" – referring to an old slang term, "trump," that has gained new prominence as the American politician rose to power.

Another elaborate protest saw a "Dalek Trump" — a version of the robotic bad guys from Doctor Who, customized with a red tie and blond wig — patrolling Whitehall in Central London amid a phalanx of mock security agents.

Security teams have put massive preparations into place for Trump's visit. London's The Evening Standard says a "ring of steel" – temporary fencing – has been erected around Parliament to keep protesters at a distance from the building.

Trump's trip to Britain had long been anticipated. It comes after a trip that had been planned for February — to officially open the new U.S. embassy — was canceled.

When he was asked about the planned protests, Trump said on Thursday as he prepared to fly to Britain from a NATO summit, "I think they like me a lot in the U.K., I think they agree with me on immigration."

Trump's schedule on Friday includes another meeting and a working lunch with May at Chequers — the prime minister's country house — and a visit to Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, where they'll have tea.

According to the White House schedule, from the moment Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, greet the queen to when they leave for the castle's landing zone to begin their trip to Scotland, their royal visit is scheduled to last an entirety of 40 minutes.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.