LONDON ― The British capital came alive Friday, forming a “carnival of resistance” to President Donald Trump’s working visit to the United Kingdom.
People gathered in central London around midday for the “Bring The Noise” protest organized by Women’s March London. A chorus sang songs including “We Are Family” and clanged pots and pans as they headed toward Parliament Square. They held signs denouncing misogyny, racism and Islamophobia, among many other themes.
Earlier Friday, as Trump departed London for a military demonstration at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst around 9:00 a.m. local time, hundreds of people gathered in Parliament Square to witness one of the most bizarre political stunts ever to grace the skies of London ― a 20-foot blimp, shaped like a baby Trump, that took flight outside the U.K.’s seat of government, alongside statues of political giants like Winston Churchill.
The blimp was intended as a symbol to show the president that “the U.K. sees him as a petulant, vicious, self-obsessed child,” Max, one of the activists working to set up the blimp, who referred to themselves as “Trump babysitters,” told HuffPost U.K.
Tens of thousands more are expected to protest across the city throughout the day. The primary “Stop Trump” march is set to culminate in a rally in Trafalgar Square ― the site of gargantuan protests against then-President George W. Bush in 2003.
Trump ruffled feathers across Europe this week, starting with a trip to Brussels for a NATO summit. After slamming NATO member states for not contributing enough to collective defense spending, he announced in a surprise press conference Thursday that he managed to immediately increase spending commitments ― a claim that other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, later disputed.
Trump then made his way to Britain, where Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed him with a gala at Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of Winston Churchill. As the leaders dined, The Sun newspaper published a blistering interview with Trump in which he slammed his British counterpart for her handling of “soft” Brexit negotiations.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal,” he said.
The president took the opportunity to lambast London Mayor Sadiq Khan for the spate of crime the city has experienced; EU leadership for letting in migrants who are supposedly destroying European culture; and the city of London itself for making him feel “unwelcome” by flying blimps.
Whether Trump’s comments have strained relations with May ahead of a series of meetings on Friday is unclear, but the White House did go into damage control mode Thursday following the interview’s publication.
“The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, said in a statement. “As he said in his interview with The Sun she ‘is a very good person’ and he ‘never said anything bad about her.’”
Chris York of HuffPost U.K. and Liza Hearon of HuffPost contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates, and follow HuffPost U.K.’s live coverage of the protests here.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article included a reference to “a six-foot blimp.” The blimp in question is 20 feet long, or about six meters.