British police officers secure the area outside Downing Street in London, as protesters demonstrate against the visit by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Wednesday March 7, 2018.
The three-day visit will include a second Royal audience - dinner with the Prince Charles and Prince William on Wednesday - and a prestigious visit to May's country residence on Thursday.
However, his arrival drew protests on the streets of London over the brutal Yemen conflict.
Lambeth PalaceThe Crown Prince has faced significant protests over Saudi Arabia's involvement in the conflict in Yemen.
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However, in recent years, the government has come under increasing scrutiny over its support in the western backed and Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Saudi women have had a momentous year as the young, reform-minded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted a number of key restrictions on their rights. More than 22.2 million there require food aid.
This challenged a United Kingdom government charm offensive trying to leverage the visit into a more far-reaching defence partnership in spite of criticism that May is overlooking human rights concerns and the war in Yemen to "plug the hole in trade and growth" caused by the UK's forthcoming exit from the European Union. As the British government officials have pointed out, this has in turn supported "tens of thousands" of United Kingdom jobs.
"The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country", May said in the House of Commons. "We think these actions, particularly the action against Yemen, are a disgrace, and the fact that the British government is directly involved is the reason we are here today".
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The UK has, so far, sold more than six billion pounds of arms to Saudi Arabia. He plans to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil. The crown prince noted there were now "huge opportunities" to boost trade ties post-Brexit.
"We do need trade, we do need good relations with countries, but that is very different from supporting a regime that breaks worldwide law, again and again and again", he stressed. "And it's different and it's not only about politics, or military, or intelligence, but also socially and economically". He will be coming fresh from a visit to Egypt, where, in addition to political leaders and Muslim religious figures, he visited the Coptic Pope and invited the community to come to Saudi Arabia.
The government tries to create a welcoming atmosphere for the Saudi crown prince in London. If he can not succeed in his mission to secure Saudi's border and its economic future, he may just find the line of succession changes. They follow a tumultuous period that saw a major military shake-up and a royal purge, part of a sweeping power play by the prince.
But May touted the relationship between Britain and Saudi Arabia, saying it's critical for anti-terrorism concerns.
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The Saudi delegation then met May at her offices to launch a UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council. Since 1953 Saudi Arabia has been ruled by a series of ageing brothers and his father, King Salman, is 82, but Prince Mohammed has been plucked from the next generation.