Queen Elizabeth II visits Goodenough College, the leading residential community for British and international postgraduate students studying in London, during a visit in London, Dec. 1, 2016. Reuters

President Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom scheduled for later this year has put Queen Elizabeth in a “very difficult position” amid thousands of English citizens taking to the streets to protest the U.S.' new travel ban, the former head of the U.K. Foreign Office told BBC Radio 4 Tuesday.

Trump signed an executive order Friday barring citizens from seven Muslim nations from traveling to and entering the U.S., stranding at least 109 people at airports across the country.

Lord Peter Ricketts told a group of protesters gathered outside of Downing Street Monday that he would prefer Trump’s scheduled meeting with English lawmakers and diplomats to be downgraded from an official state visit so the Queen could avoid the controversy of meeting with him amid the backlash demonstrated by her citizens.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Trump had accepted an invitation from the Queen for the state visit to fortify the U.K.’s “special relationship” with the U.S. during a meeting at the White House Friday. But as the British government was preparing to leave the European Union, Ricketts said U.S. presidents have never been given a state visit in their first year in office and wondered whether Trump was “specially deserving of this exceptional honor.”

“Of course I agree with the Prime Minister that our relationship with the U.S. is absolutely critical and I think that everybody will accept that the President should pay a visit to the U.K.,” Ricketts said. “The point about a state visit is that it directly involves the Queen in a very personal way.”

A U.K. petition to prevent Trump’s scheduled visit to the Britain collected nearly 1.7 million signatures as of Tuesday morning. After thousands of protesters raged across the U.K. Friday upon hearing news of Trump’s travel ban, Rickett’s wrote a letter to The Times of London saying the invitation was “premature” and that May should “move fast” to protect the Queen from controversy.

Trump's approval rating for his job as president was at 42 percent among American respondents, while 51 percent said they disapproved of his performance after being in office for just 8 days, according to a Gallup survey published Saturday.