The intricate diplomacies of Donald Trump’s rare state visit to Britain have kicked off in colourful fashion, with the President denying reports he called Meghan Markle “nasty” despite there being proof he did.
Mr Trump is due to land in London within hours, and will meet Meghan’s new royal family this week – with full honours. One event is a Buckingham Palace lunch where the former actress’ husband Prince Harry will be a guest.
As well as possibly putting up the backs of his royal hosts by dissing one of their own, the President also broke accepted political protocol by endorsing two candidates as new British prime minister and criticising the London mayor.
Mr Trump blamed the news media for concocting the Meghan drama.
“I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!” Mr Trump gloated in a tweet posted in the wee hours of Monday (AEST time.)
“Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologise? Doubt it!”
Some of the President’s 60.7 million Twitter followers were quick to post the clip of him making the comment: “It’s on video Lumpy,” said one.
Here's the tape of you calling her nasty. Enough with the lies!https://t.co/ocxuPFF0a3
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 2, 2019
Mr Trump’s denial sparked a long string of theories about why the President would deny something of which there is proof.
The White House’s explanation was that Mr Trump wasn’t calling Meghan “nasty” but was answering a question about her past negative remarks.
During the 2016 election, Meghan – then a star in legal drama Suits – threatened to move to Canada if Mr Trump became president.
“Trump is divisive,” she added, saying he was “vocal” about being a “misogynist.”
Two years later, the politically-outspoken Meghan married Harry.
The potentially sticky situation with the Windsors unfolded ahead of Mr Trump’s state visit with wife Melania.
During an interview, The Sun’s chief political reporter Tom Newton-Dunn brought up the subject of Meghan not joining other royals to meet Mr Trump after she had son Archie on May 6.
“I did not know that. No, I hope she’s OK,” Mr Trump said of the American-born duchess.
When told Meghan “wasn’t so nice about you” and once said she might leave a Trump-led US, he responded, “No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”
Mr Trump added he thought Meghan would make “a very good” duchess: “It is nice, and I am sure she will do excellently.”
The Queen will receive the Trumps’ armoured entourage on Monday (British time) with a full day of meetings, afternoon tea and a palace banquet.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump will meet PM Theresa May, days after he talked up possible successors to her job as Conservative Party leader.
He told The Sun he “always liked” former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and thinks he would do “a very good job” as leader.
“He would be excellent. He is a very good guy, a very talented person.”
A day after The Sun interview was published, Mr Trump told The Sunday Times Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage – who has accused Ms May of betrayal and incompetence – should be sent to negotiate Brexit.
“He has a lot to offer – he is a very smart person,” Mr Trump said.
Before his departure for Britain, the President also took aim at London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mr Khan is a long-time Trump critic, describing the US President as “one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” in a newspaper article published in Britain on Sunday.
Mr Trump was asked if he would be willing to meet Mr Khan while in London.
“No, I don’t think much of him,” he said.