LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II will travel to the Group of Seven Summit in South West England on Friday and add some star power to a diplomatic charm offensive as Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the “indestructible relationship” between Britain and the United States.
While there should always be a royal presence at the G-7 summit in the small seaside town of Carbis Bay, Cornwall, the arrival of the Queen comes as a surprise.
She will join the G-7 leaders – US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy – for dinner to break down any tensions undermining the event and have a united front within theirs Strive to rejuvenate the beleaguered west.
The leaders will discuss plans to donate hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries, set climate change and a minimum global corporate tax of 15 percent.
The White House has also made it clear that it sees the trip as an opportunity to rally allies for the cause of liberal democracy against what Biden sees as an authoritarian threat from Russia and China.
The unexpected presence of the Queen, 95, means she will be attending with Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, to receive the Heads of State at the Eden Project, a tropical garden built under a collection of giant bio-domes.
Charles, heir to the throne and climate activist, will host a reception for the leaders and prominent CEOs “to discuss how the private sector can work with governments to address the climate emergency,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The Duchess of Cambridge also met Jill Biden on Friday for a trip to a local school. The First Lady will then travel to Windsor Castle with the President to meet the Queen on the Sunday after the summit, as previously announced.
The arrival of high-ranking royals represents the most powerful soft power weapon the UK has to offer. The country is hosting this international spectacle at a time when it is trying to redefine its international role following its bitter exit from the European Union last year.
The Queen is Britain’s longest-ruling monarch and has met every incumbent US president since Harry Truman, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson. Biden will be the 13th US leader she welcomes, spanning decades of Washington-London’s “special relationship”.
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It became known this week that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not like this phrase. A counselor reportedly said he felt he sounded needy.
Instead, Johnson called the Anglo-American bond an “indestructible relationship” on Friday.
“It’s a relationship that has lasted a very long time and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world.” he told the BBC, also known as a “deep and meaningful relationship”.
Despite the dislike of his counterpart, the President has repeatedly used the expression “special relationship”.
“We have confirmed the special relationship – this is not said lightly – the special relationship between our people,” he said on Thursday after a meeting that was praised as a success by both sides.
Johnson described working with Biden as “a breath of fresh air”.
But the summit was anything but tension-free.
Even before landing on British soil, the Biden administration strongly warned Johnson not to allow Brexit to jeopardize peace in Northern Ireland.
Tensions in the province have risen as Brexit has weakened ties with Britain in the eyes of some and risked dragging it closer to orbit the Republic of Ireland, a separate country to the south.
This risks a decades-long conflict between mostly Catholic “nationalists” – who want Northern Ireland to reunite with the Irish Republic – and mostly Protestant “unionists” – who want the area to remain part of the UK.
Biden, who is of Irish roots, has warned that the US does not want to see any threat to the Good Friday Agreement, a landmark 1998 peace deal partly brokered by the US.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening also reprimanded Britain’s attempts to renegotiate aspects of Brexit in relation to Northern Ireland. The UK’s attempts to do this have become a major friction point with the EU.
“Nothing is renegotiable,” Macron said at a press conference.