Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth was among the guests at the dinner for Donald Trump at Blenheim Palace and believes it showed off the area at its best.
High society welcomed the US president for a black-dinner evening hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May as hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Woodstock stately home.
Conservative Party leader Cllr Hudspeth said Mr Trump described the PM as ‘a fantastic woman who’s doing a fantastic job’, and the focus on Oxfordshire benefitted the local economy and tourism.
“It just showed Blenheim Palace and Oxfordshire at it’s best and the American I spoke to said they would be back to visit Blenheim in a more leisurely manner,” he said.
“They said they loved the whole occasion and Woodstock and the surrounding area – it was a real boost for the county.”
Cllr Hudspeth watched Mr Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive before the military ceremony in the Grand Court and dinner in the Long Library.
The guests had to wait as Mr Trump and the prime minister were given a tour of the palace including the Winston Churchill exhibition, whom the president is said to admire.
Once they had finished, smoked salmon with a hollandaise sauce and beetroot salad was for starters, before Hereford beef and roasted vegetables for mains and strawberry jelly, clotted cream and vanilla shortbread for dessert.
Cllr Hudspeth said he did not get to meet Mr Trump but said: “It was a very good evening, which showed Blenheim Palace at its most magnificent, I think that the president would have been impressed with his drive from across the bridge towards the palace.”
The councillor for Woodstock was among those who had to drive past the protesters outside Blenheim and he said while they were within their rights to protest, Mr Trump should be respected as an elected leader.
“I believe in democracy and the right to protest and that’s absolutely fine, they can, but you got to remember the president is elected and you’ve got to respect his position as President of the United States,” he said.
He added: “It’s important we have a good relationship and I can understand some of the concerns about his views so I was glad it was a peaceful and in a way, a truly Woodstock protest, which boosted the local economy in Woodstock as everyone enjoyed the bars and restaurants in Woodstock afterwards.”