Barack Obama arrives at Stansted Airport early due to threat of volcanic ash cloud from Iceland

US President Barack Obama arrived at Stansted Airport on Monday night after his flight was moved due to a threat of volcanic ash obstructing flight paths over the UK.

Staff at the Essex hub welcomed the President and Michelle Obama accompanied by an army of more than 500 staff and security.

The couple flew into Stansted on Air Force One earlier than expected because of a volcanic eruption in Iceland, they were not met by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as expected.

A host of dignitaries including the Chief Constable of Essex Jim Barker-McCardle and airport boss Nick Barton were also due attend the President’s arranged arrival on Tuesday morning, along with a lining party made up of soldiers from the Royal Air Force.

A beefed-up security operation was still underway to ensure the safety of the President and the First Lady at a time when fears of an attack by extremists are at there highest following the killing of Osama bin Laden just over two weeks ago.

Although exact details of security were kept secret, before Obama landed Essex Police said officers will maintain “a high-visibility presence in the vicinity of Stansted Airport for the arrival of the US President”.

A Stansted spokesman added: “Various specialist police resources, such as dogs, horses, and public-order trained officers will be used during the three days of the state visit.

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“Although there will be an increased police presence to maintain security in and around the airport we have been working closely with our partners to ensure that there will be a very limited or no impact on the running of the airport.

“There are no plans to close the M11 or any other roads around the airport.

“For operational reasons we will not be disclosing how many officers will be involved in the security operation.”

After Mr Obama landed at Stansted he was driven into central London in his specially armoured vehicle called “The Beast”.

Today (Tuesday) The President and his wife are due to be hosted at Buckingham Palace by the Queen and Prince Phillip.