POLITICAL differences were set aside on Wednesday, when the United States President Donald Trump joined the Queen and the royal family for a D-Day commemoration in Portsmouth.
The Queen told the crowd, estimated at 60,000: “The wartime generation — my generation — is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today.
“The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten. It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country, indeed, the whole free world, that I say to you all: thank you.”
President Trump’s remarks were made, characteristically, on Twitter: “As we approach the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, we proudly commemorate those heroic and honorable patriots who gave their all for the cause of freedom during some of history’s darkest hours.”
The event was the culmination of a three-day state visit which combined official statescraft and unofficial protests. The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, speaking before President Trump’s arrival, described his politics as “toxic and dangerous”.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Sunday, Bishop Bayes said: “I don’t agree with him; I think he’s mistaken in many of his policies; and I think that the Christians who identify with him, especially in the US, are not properly responding to what our Christian faith says they should do.
“I don’t think it’s right to build walls, I don’t think it’s right to demonise and hate people, I don’t think it’s right to divide, and I think this man should be told so — not only by the folks that are in the room with him on this visit, but by the folks who will be on the streets outside with the blimp and all the other things.”
PAThe Queen and President Trump in the audience in Portsmouth
There were mass protests against the President’s visit in London, and across the country, on Tuesday. President Trump dismissed a protest, said to be 75,000-strong, as “very small” and “fake news”, and claimed (contestably) that thousands had been on the streets to welcome him to London on Monday.
He wrote on Twitter: “I kept hearing that there would be ‘massive’ rallies against me in the UK, but it was quite the opposite. The big crowds, which the Corrupt Media hates to show, were those that gathered in support of the USA and me. They were big & enthusiastic as opposed to the organized flops!”
On Monday, the President visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. He described the Abbey as a “special place”. A state banquet was held at Buckingham Palace that evening.
On Tuesday, he appeared alongside the outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May. At a joint press conference, he appeared to say that the NHS would be on the table in any future US-UK trade relations. He later rowed back on these comments.
He said also that he had rejected a request for a meeting from the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, describing him as “somewhat of a negative force”. Mr Corbyn had boycotted Monday’s state banquet.
It was revealed on Wednesday morning that the Prince of Wales had spent 75 minutes longer than scheduled attempting to convince President Trump of the dangers of climate change.
President Trump told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “He [the Prince of Wales] is really into climate change, and I think that’s great. What he really wants and what he really feels warmly about is the future. He wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate, as opposed to a disaster, and I agree.”
He went on, however: “I did say, ‘Well, the United States right now has among the cleanest climates there are based on all statistics.’ And it’s even getting better because I agree with that we want the best water, the cleanest water. It’s crystal clean, has to be crystal clean clear.”
When challenged on whether he believed in climate change, President Trump responded: “I believe there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather you can’t miss.”
On Wednesday, in another message on Twitter, President Trump wrote: “Could not have been treated more warmly in the United Kingdom by the Royal Family or the people. Our relationship has never been better, and I see a very big Trade Deal down the road.”
Read our feature on the diary entries of a D-Day chaplain
You can also read more on the D-Day landings in our archive:
Day for the Church: The Baptism of Fire (By a Lay Communicant)
D-Day 1944: King George to His People: ‘Not Our Will But God’s Will’