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Security tight as Bush lands in UK

Prince Charles, left, and U.S. Ambassador William Farish greet the Bushes at Heathrow Airport.

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CNN's Robin Oakley on tight security in London the U.S. president's state visit.
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CNN's John King on protesters gearing up for the arrival of the U.S. president.
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Tuesday, November 18
Arrives and meets with royal family in a private function.

Wednesday, November 19
Attends formal welcoming ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Meets Britain's opposition leaders.
Delivers speech on trans-Atlantic alliance.
Meets British families "who lost loved ones on September 11."
Speaks at state banquet in Buckingham Palace.

Thursday, November 20
Visits Westminster Abbey and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Meets soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and their families.
Holds talks with Blair.
Co-hosts roundtable discussion on HIV/AIDS with Blair
Hosts reciprocal dinner for the queen.

Friday, November 21
Travels to Blair's northern England constituency of Sedgefield before returning to Washington.

Source: Reuters
George W. Bush
Tony Blair
Great Britain

LONDON, England (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has arrived in London for a three-day state visit, with British police on alert over purported terrorist threats and demonstrators planning massive street protests.

Prince Charles greeted the president and first lady Laura Bush as Air Force One landed at Heathrow Airport Tuesday evening. The Bushes were then flown by helicopter to Buckingham Palace, where they will stay as the guests of Queen Elizabeth II.

Bush will hold talks on Iraq with British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the visit. In a major address Wednesday, the president will defend the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a senior administration official said.

The president will make the case that war is sometimes necessary to defend a nation's values, but "it is never the first choice," the official said.

Bush will also reaffirm U.S. support for international alliances that have been the cornerstone of U.S. policy overseas since World War II.

Bush is the first U.S. president to make a full state visit to Britain, officials say, and London police have mounted an unprecedented security operation.

Concrete barriers have been erected outside Buckingham Palace, while the Metropolitan Police have scheduled 14,000 officer shifts to cover the three-day visit -- nearly three times as many as originally planned.

Protest organizers raised their estimate for Thursday's march through central London from 60,000 to 100,000.

Demonstrators plan to topple an effigy of Bush in a display evoking the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein by U.S. forces in Baghdad, organizers said.

Protester planners won a major concession from police, who agreed to let the demonstrators march past the Houses of Parliament and Blair's official residence at 10 Downing Street. Bush will be spending part of Thursday in London's government district.

Authorities have said they fear terrorists could blend in with anti-war protesters to try to carry out an attack.

"We will allow and help demonstrators to make their point as we always do in London," said Andy Trotter, the deputy assistant commissioner of the British Transport Police. "What we will be firm about is people who are here to make trouble."

Demonstrators plan Wednesday to hold a sit-down demonstration outside Buckingham Palace and an "alternative state procession" to Trafalgar Square.

On Tuesday night, an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 turned out at a hall in central London to hear a string of speakers against the war, including British lawmaker George Galloway, ousted by Blair's Labor Party for his outspoken criticism of the invasion of Iraq; American anti-war activist Ron Kovic; and playwright Harold Pinter.

However, a poll published Tuesday in The Guardian newspaper found the majority of Britons on Bush's side.

Forty-three percent of those questioned in the ICM survey said Bush should visit Britain, while 36 percent said he should not.

Some 62 percent agreed that America was "generally speaking, a force for good," while 15 percent thought it was "an evil empire."

And 47 percent said they supported the decision to go to war in Iraq, up from 38 percent in a similar poll in September. Opposition to the war was down 12 points to 41 percent.

One thousand people were interviewed for the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Policing for the Bush visit is estimated to cost British taxpayers 5 million ($8.5 million).

The security clampdown was not enough, however, to stop a lone protester from scaling Buckingham Palace's main gates on Monday.

Wearing a fluorescent jacket, 61-year-old Lindis Percy, a veteran peace campaigner, climbed the 6 meter (20 foot) high gates and unfurled an upside-down U.S. flag with the inscription "Elizabeth Windsor and Co. He's not welcome."

After spending two hours on the gates, she dropped the flag to the ground and climbed down. She was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and breaching the peace and was released on bail.

Later Percy told reporters she was "incredibly surprised" she had been able to climb the gates.

Police dismissed any concerns, saying Percy had not entered the secure area of the palace.

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