From Assad to Xi, the Queen has met her fair share of controversial leaders

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While this could make for a less than warm welcome for Trump, it will not be the first time Queen Elizabeth II has welcomed a controversial leader to the British capital.

Here’s a look back at some of the world leaders whose trips have raised eyebrows.

The Queen accompanies Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, during their state visit in 2015.

Protesters gathered in central London to demonstrate against China’s human rights record during President Xi Jinping’s 2015 visit, which was aimed at strengthening economic ties between China and the UK.

George W. Bush

US President George W. Bush and the Queen at the end of a three-day state visit to the UK in 2003.
Anti-war demonstrators swarmed the British capital when US President George Bush made a state visit to the UK in 2003.

Vladimir Putin

Putin and the Queen share an open carriage along the Mall following his arrival in London in 2003.
President Vladimir Putin made the first state visit to the UK by a Russian leader in more than 125 years when he arrived in London in 2003. The trip was met with protests over Russia’s role in the Chechnya conflict and concern over the Kremlin’s support for Iran’s nuclear program. It also came on the heels of tensions between the two countries over the US-led Iraq war, which Britain supported but the Kremlin opposed.

Bashar al-Assad

Queen Elizabeth II receives Asma and Bashar al-Assad on December 17, 2002 at Buckingham Palace.
In 2002, President Bashar al-Assad became the first Syrian leader to make an official visit to the UK. While it wasn’t a state visit, but he still met the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The four-day trip was partly sidetracked by a public disagreement between Assad and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair over a possible war in Iraq.

Saudi King Abdullah

The Queen, Prince Charles (R) and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia look on during a ceremonial welcome for the King at Horse Guards Parade in London in 2007.
The Saudi monarch’s 2007 visit attracted controversy for a number of reasons, including the Kingdom’s treatment of women and the gay community.

Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe has visited the UK on multiple occasions over the years, pictured in 1994.
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was greeted by the Queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, at Buckingham Palace during his state visit in 1994. He was given an honorary knighthood during the trip, though he would later be stripped of the award. Mugabe resigned as his country’s president in 2017 after 37 years of autocratic rule.

Nicolae Ceausescu

The Queen with Ceausescu in 1978.
Queen Elizabeth hosted the Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1978. Ceausescu ruled Romania from 1965 using secret police to brutally repress his people. The Queen was apparently so displeased that Ceausescu had been invited to the UK that she hid behind a bush on the ground of Buckingham Palace to avoid speaking to him, Reuters reported.

Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko with the Queen in December 1973.
Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire — now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo — embarked on a UK state visit in 1973. He seized power in 1965 and led one of the most brutal African regimes for the next three decades. Western support for the dictator waned in the early 1990s after years of allegations of human rights abuses and rampant corruption, and he died in exile in 1997.



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