Facing the prospect of massive protests, local political opposition and a large inflatable baby, President Trump has decided to avoid London during his visit to the United Kingdom later in the month, Downing Street said on Friday. Trump is set to meet U.K. Prime Minster Theresa May and the Queen of England during what will be his first official trip to the United Kingdom as president, but he'll only be spending one night in London, according to the Guardian.
Trump has something of a rocky history with England's capital city. He and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have been engaged in a war-of-words since June 2017, when Trump erroneously criticized Khan's handling of a terror attack in London. More than 55,000 demonstrators are expected to protest Trump in London during his visit, and a group of activists are planning — with Khan's approval — to fly a giant balloon shaped like a baby version of Trump wearing a diaper over Parliament during his visit.
Although the president will spend the night in London the evening he arrives, he otherwise won't go to the city during his four-day visit, the Guardian reports. Many speculated that Trump is steering clear of the city so that he doesn't have to confront the throngs of anti-Trump protests set to storm the city; the Guardian noted that Trump will instead attend events in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, "places where protesters can be kept out of sight and earshot."
"Donald Trump to almost entirely avoid London during UK visit," the New York Times Liam Stack opined on Twitter. "It looks like he will try to avoid protesters by spending a lot of his time in Scotland instead." Another user argued that the president is skipping out on the biggest city in England because his "softer than a Kleenex tissue fragile ego doesn’t want to get hurt by the protesters."
At a press briefing, Trump's ambassador to the United Kingdom insisted that the president didn't change his itinerary to avoid confronting anti-Trump protests.
“No, the president is not avoiding anything,” Woody Johnson said, according to the Guardian. “The president is merely trying to get as impactful a trip as he can get in a 24-hour period.”
Trump had originally planned to visit England earlier in the year, but canceled the trip at the last minute, ostensibly in opposition to the new U.S. Embassy in London.
"Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for 'peanuts,' only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars," Trump tweeted at the time. "Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!"
In truth, however, the sale of the old American embassy was approved during the George W. Bush administration, long before Barack Obama became president. Before Trump nixed his trip, 20,000 people had planned to protest his arrival in London, leading many to suspect that he the cancellation was motivated by a fear of protesters.
The creators of the baby Trump balloon crowdfunded over $20,000 for the project, and raised so much money that they'll also be making a smaller version of the balloon, which will be on the ground with protesters.
"We have ordered a half-size Trump Baby designed to be filled with air - he's made from thicker plastic so he's a lot less fragile than the big boy - meaning he can join in the protests and knock about with people in the crowds," the activists wrote on their fundraising page.
According to the Guardian, First Lady Melania Trump will not be accompanying the president for most of his events during the England trip, and will instead spend time with her counterpart, Philip May.