LONDON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump plans to visit Britain in February to open the new U.S. embassy in London but will not meet Queen Elizabeth, the Daily Mail newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Trump’s planned visit to Britain has proved controversial since Prime Minister Theresa May invited him for a state visit, which typically involves lavish pageantry and events hosted by the queen.
However nearly 2 million people have signed a petition saying Trump should not be invited because it “would cause embarrassment” to the queen, and protests could be expected to greet the U.S. leader.
The Daily Mail cited a source in Westminster as saying Trump had told May during a call on Tuesday that he planned a working visit to Britain to open the new embassy, a billion-dollar building which overlooks the River Thames, in late February.
A spokesman for May’s Downing Street office declined to comment on the report. He said the position on the state visit had not changed. An offer had been extended but no dates have been arranged.
May originally invited Trump to visit by the end of 2017.
Britain regards its close ties with Washington as a “special relationship” and a pillar of its foreign policy as it prepares to leave the European Union.
However the ties have been strained in recent months, most recently when Trump sparked outrage by rebuking May on Twitter after she criticised him for retweeting British far-right anti-Islam videos.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)