He is the target of protests across Scotland — but that didn’t stop President Donald Trump talking about his fondness for the land of his mother’s birth after his plane landed at Prestwick airport on Friday night.
Ever one to make an entrance, Trump arrived an hour later than expected as Air Force One touched down.
Hundreds of protesters and plane spotters could be seen across the tarmac, waiting for a glimpse of the presidential aircraft as it landed.
Reporters and photographers waiting on the tarmac were only treated to a glimpse as Trump left the plane with first lady Melania Trump and entered the presidential car, resplendent with U.S and Scottish flags.
He also met David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary of State, as he left the plane.
Mundell said of the meeting: “I wanted to make it clear that he was being welcomed to Scotland as the President of the United States, that we value the strong relationship he has between Scotland and the United States of America.”
And according to the Scottish Secretary, the president was quick to talk about his deep affection for Scotland.
“Mr. Trump said that he had been in Scotland many times before, he was very pleased to be here as President,” Mundell said. “He obviously feels very strongly about his mother’s Scottish heritage and he’s looking forward to playing golf at Turnberry."
Mundell added: "I know it to be the case that people in and around the Turnberry area and in the hotel complex do very much welcome the investment that he’s put into the hotel and the refurbishment of the course.”
It is thought that Donald Trump will spend the weekend playing golf at the $44 million Turnberry golf resort.
His mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was born in the village of Tong before emigrating to New York in the 1930s, though many family members still reside on the Hebridean island. It is unlikely Donald Trump will visit his “ancestral” home on Lewis.
Anti-Trump organizers have planned a series of protests ahead of the visit. Among them: a “carnival of resistance” outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Saturday, expected to attract busloads of protesters from across the country. Other smaller demonstrations were also planned, including outside the president’s golf courses. Police Scotland have drafted 5,000 officers to provide extra security at a cost of up to $6.6 million.
“Unfortunately these days, there’s always going to be this very high degree of security required and that comes at a cost," Mundell said. "But our relationship with the United States is really important economically, culturally, tourism-wise, so I’m sure this will be a productive visit.”
Kirsty Haigh of Scotland United Against Trump said, “Trump likes to talk up his Scottish connections, but we are going to show that his politics are not welcome here.”
Anger at Trump has been especially hot in Aberdeen, where Trump’s plans have been mired in controversy from the day the president bought the land in 2006. Neighbors have accused Trump of harassment and bullying to get them to sell land, and a local fisherman became a national hero of sorts when he refused to sell to Trump, despite a $690,000 offer.
Earlier, motorcades of police could be seen patrolling the nearby roads, while swathes of Scottish police officers appeared at intervals around the perimeter of the airport.
Two grey US Air Force jets were at one point parked on the runway, while Police Scotland helicopters were out in force. As part of the massive security operation, men in black suit jackets were spread across the vast areas of tarmac.
Commenting on the protests that the president had provoked across Scotland and the U.K., Mundell added: “We have an open democracy here, people are entitled to say what they want and convey whatever message that they want. That’s the great thing about our country, it’s an open democracy and everyone is entitled to have their say.”
President Trump meets with world leaders in Europe
Contributing: Associated Press