LONDON – A giant balloon of “Trump Baby” in a diaper took flight over Britain’s Houses of Parliament Friday, kicking off a day of widespread protests against the US leader’s controversial visit to the UK.
The orange-hued blimp was inflated in Parliament Square at about 9.30 a.m. as a crowd of onlookers cheered. As the air filled the six-meter (20-feet) ballon, it rose slowly into the air.
It flew at a height of about 30 meters (98 feet) for two hours, fluttering over Westminster Abbey and high above the statutes of prominent historical figures including Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Millicent Fawcett.
Blimp organizer Leo Murray told CNN the giant balloon had been designed to speak to President Donald Trump “in a language that he understands, which is personal insults.”
Protesters gathered from early in the morning to watch the balloon go up. “No one really wants him to be in power … he’s not welcome in the UK, said Holly, a protester from London, who didn’t give her last name. “It’s bollocks,” she said.
Katie, 63, who lives near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida, stumbled across the protests Friday on her first day of vacation in the UK. “It’s a great response. I don’t blame them,” she said.
Trump vs. London
Trump’s schedule has been carefully designed to avoid planned protests, but it is understood he is familiar with the “Trump Baby.” Asked if he was concerned about protests during his visit, Trump told reporters in Brussels on Thursday: “I think they like me in the UK,” and said the British people shared his concerns on immigration, claiming “that’s why Brexit happened.”
Instead of holding his meetings in London, Trump will instead hold talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at her country retreat outside the city and take tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle, west of London.
But in an interview with the Sun newspaper, he conceded that he felt unwelcome in London.
The request to fly the blimp was approved by London Mayor Sadiq Khan earlier this month. Khan, who has had a testy Twitter relationship with Trump, gave the unusual request the go-ahead after more than 10,000 people signed a petition.
The mayor has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump’s visit. He criticized the US President over his tweets following the terror attacks in London last year.
Organizer Murray explained that, while some people might be uncomfortable with the idea of ridiculing the US President, he feels that Trump’s policies have created an atmosphere where “normal diplomatic rules have become very much suspended.”
“I feel like once we got to the point where we have a head of state who is suspending due process for some of the world’s most vulnerable people and snatching babies from their parents at the border and locking them in cages — at that point I don’t think we need to be civil to this man,” he said.
Murray said that organizers “don’t really care” if Trump sees or reacts to the blimp.
“It’s about lifting the spirits of the nation and it’s already doing that, you know. It’s just putting smiles on the faces of people who had started to despair about the state of politics,” he said.
Sarah Elliott, chairwoman of Republicans Overseas UK, told CNN she did not think Trump would be fazed by the stunt.
“I think whenever his detractors go after him, it makes him double down and it actually encourages him to keep going and prove everybody wrong,” she said. “So I think that’s the effect the balloon will have,” she said.