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Is Trump the Worst We’ve Welcomed?

From human rights violators to suspected arms dealers – Trump’s state visit to the UK certainly isn’t the first to spark protest.

Despite protests all over the country against his policy and proposed trip to the UK, Downing Street has insisted that Trump’s visit will go ahead.

Interestingly, a whistle-stop tour through recent history provides a reminder that controversy isn’t isolated to Trump’s arrival on British soil.

1971

In 1971, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito visited the UK despite heavy opposition.

Approximately 13,000 British soldiers died in Japanese wartime camps, thousands more surviving torture, humiliation, disease and starvation.

In the wake of the war, ex-prisoners of war from other nations received around 50 times more compensation than British troops from the Japanese government.

Emperor Hirohito

 

Successive British leaders had refused to take action to redeem this disparity and by 1971, Emperor Hirohito’s visit was plagued by controversy.

As he and the Queen paraded in a horse drawn carriage, crowds stood silent, and former prisoners of war turned their backs on him.

1978

Romania’s hard-line communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu visited the UK in 1978 and also received an icy reception.

His reputation for leading the most corrupt and oppressive governments of the Soviet Union’s satellite sites preceded him and even the Queen is rumoured to have avoided him.

Royal author Robert Hardman describes an amusing scene: ‘While walking her dogs in the Palace gardens, she spotted Ceausescu and his wife Elena heading in her direction.

‘As the Queen told a lunch guest some years later, she decided the best course of action was to hide behind a bush rather than conduct polite conversation.’

1994

Despite consistent human rights violations and complete disregard for democracy in his own country, Zimbabwe’s infamous President Robert Mugabe made a state visit to the UK in 1994.

President Robert Mugabe (courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

 

Mugabe was even appointed as an honorary Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Bath during the trip, regardless of his brutal reputation.

Nick Clegg has since emphasised how ‘it is important that we use even symbolic measures to underline our disgust at what Mugabe and his henchmen do in Zimbabwe’.

In 2008, Mugabe was finally stripped of his Knighthood.

2003

Protests by human rights activists plagued Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Britain in 2003.

At one point, a protester threw themselves in front of Putin’s motorcade as he travelled along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Russia’s treatment of minorities, their involvement in Chechnya and their support for Iran’s nuclear programme were all controversial hot topics, dominating the trip.

The Queen and George W Bush (courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

 

In the same year, George W Bush arrived in the UK to tens of thousands of demonstrators hitting the streets, protesting against the Iraq war.

Reportedly, £5 million was spent on security preparations preceding the four-day visit.

One protester was arrested for attempting to egg the President and a large effigy of George W Bush was symbolically toppled in Trafalgar square, mimicking the fall of Baghdad six months earlier.

2007

A decade ago, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was greeted by shouts of ‘shame on you’ during his royal procession down The Mall.

His government’s treatment of women, the LGBT community, and accusations of multi-billion dollar arms deals fuelled anger towards the King.

2015

Most recently, clashes took place between human rights protesters and Chinese supporters ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit.

Although Mr Xi met Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, they controversially chose not to attend the state banquet.

President Xi Jinping’s state visit

 

A reflection on history depicts repeated handshakes and symbolic measures in conflict with the feelings of the nation.

British leaders plan to continue this trend by welcoming Trump – looks like Buckingham Palace better get working on soundproofing to muffle the chants of protesters outside.