US President Donald Trump met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Monday after kicking off his UK state visit by branding the London mayor a “loser” and weighing in on the Brexit debate.

With a 41-gun royal salute ringing out across the royal palace’s lawn, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles shook hands with the US leader and First Lady Melania Trump before British soldiers played the national anthems of the two countries.

The queen then led the couple inside for a private lunch, which will be followed in the evening by a glittering banquet.

Trump’s plane had not even touched down when he tweeted that London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been highly critical of the red-carpet welcome laid on for Trump, was doing a “terrible job”.

The president called the mayor a “stone cold loser”, adding: “Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, (Bill) de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height.

“In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom,” he added.

 Backing for Boris

Trump’s three-day visit comes with Britain in political turmoil. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to step down within weeks over her handling of her country’s exit from the European Union.

Trump weighed in on the divisive issue, declaring before he arrived that Britain’s former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” choice to succeed May.

In a round of British newspaper interviews, he also recommended her successor walk away from talks with Brussels, refuse to pay Britain’s agreed divorce bill and leave the EU with no deal.

The UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over different approaches to Iran, the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks, climate change, and Trump’s personal politics.

Labour’s Khan has led the opposition to the three-day visit, writing a newspaper article on Sunday in which he compared the US leader to European dictators from the 1930s and 1940s.

“Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Khan wrote.

His spokesman called Trump’s tweets “childish” and “beneath the president of the United States”

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