Over the weekend, The Times of London caused a bit of a stir in the U.S. with a report that President Trump "has made clear" that a ceremonial ride through London, from the Royal Mews to Buckingham Palace, in one of Queen Elizabeth II's gilded carriages is "an essential element" of his state visit in October. The article was based on unidentified "officials" and "security sources," who warned that the procession would require an unprecedented "monster" of a security operation. Former President Barack Obama opted for "the Beast," the president's heavily armored limousine, for his visit with the queen in 2011, to spare his hosts such a security nightmare.
"The vehicle which carries the president of the United States is a spectacular vehicle," a source told The Times. "It is designed to withstand a massive attack like a low-level rocket grenade. If he's in that vehicle he is incredibly well protected and on top of that it can travel at enormous speed. If he is in a golden coach being dragged up the Mall by a couple of horses, the risk factor is dramatically increased." The queen's carriage is ostensibly bulletproof, the source said, but "it would not be able to put up much resistance in the face of a rocket propelled grenade or high-powered ammunition. Armor-piercing rounds would make a very bad show of things."
Anyone who has seen Trump's apartment in Trump Tower knows that the president is fond of gold, but a White House spokeswoman calls the report that he is demanding a gold-plated carriage ride with Queen Elizabeth "completely false," telling People: "We have not even begun working on details for this trip." In any case, if Trump does insist on traveling in gold, he will not be alone: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are among the world leaders who chose to go the carriage route with the queen during their state visits. Putin even rode with the top down.