It is a rite of passage by the president. Queen Elizabeth, 95, has met every American president since World War II, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson. However, Biden is the first in two decades to come from what he calls stubborn roots.
“From Scranton Joe, the Amtrak commuter, to dining with Queen Elizabeth is a tedious walk, but they’ll get along wonderfully,” said Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “The wonderful thing about Biden is that he feels comfortable in any environment.”
Brinkley said Biden would go out of his way to follow proper protocols and manners. “Protocol is the modus operandi of our current President,” he said.
Biden and the Queen met at least once, in 1982 while serving as a Democratic Senator from Delaware, the state his family moved to when he was 10 years old.
The Sunday visit – which is expected to include an arrival ceremony with a troop review and the playing of the two countries’ national anthems – takes place three days after the Queen’s deceased husband’s 100th birthday. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died two months ago at the age of 99. It is the Queen’s first face-to-face meeting with a head of state since his death.
But in Britain, the media has focused more on Biden’s Irish Roman Catholic legacy than on the Queen’s ongoing grief or the president’s more humble beginnings. There has been speculation that Biden’s belief could affect relations with the Queen as Brexit, which Biden opposed, could jeopardize the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“This is a foreign policy rather than a class moment; like so much else in the Biden presidency, it might have been different even 20 years ago, but the Irish have been subdued by the burdens of being president in 2021, ”said a Biden adviser. “He will no doubt comfort her over the loss of Philip, but the real question for Elizabeth’s nation is how to deal with the same forces we face – Brexit in her case, Trumpism in ours.”
Biden has experienced grief in his own life and suffered it two decades apart. His first wife and young daughter died in a car accident in 1972, and one of his adult sons, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015. He often goes to those who have suffered a loss to comfort them.
“There will come a day, I promise you, when the thought of your son or your daughter or your wife or your husband will bring a smile to your face before it brings a tear to your eyes,” he always says again when he speaks to those who have lost someone. “It will happen. My prayer for you is that that day will come sooner rather than later.”
On Thursday, the prince’s birthday, Biden recognized the occasion before giving a speech on the Covid vaccination campaign.
“I would like to express our condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the entire Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom on behalf of Jill and myself,” he said. “Today would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday, and I know many people today feel his absence.”
Two days later, the UK celebrated the Queen’s birthday, a date Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken noted in a statement. “Queen Elizabeth’s lifelong leadership and dedication to service is an example to all nations. Under her leadership, the UK has faced major challenges and has long enjoyed stability. “
Biden traveled to Europe to attend several meetings – the G-7, NATO and summits with the heads of state and government of the European Union and the European Council – in England and Belgium. His last stop will be in Geneva, where he will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The visit to the Queen – a rite of passage for US presidents – will be the most ceremonial of his stops.
“Meeting with the Queen is very popular with US presidents, and Joe Biden is no exception,” said Nile Gardiner, a former advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who is now director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Conservative Foundation for cultural heritage.
For Biden, protocol compliance will be one of the main goals. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump, who bragged about how much fun the Queen was having with him, was criticized for both walking in front of her and turning his back on her as they scrutinized an honor guard.
In 2009, then-First Lady Michelle Obama briefly put her arm around the Queen’s back when the two complained about their aching feet at a reception for the G-20 group of world leaders in London.
In 2007, then-President George W. Bush got himself wrong, saying the Queen had helped the US “celebrate its bicentennial in 17 …” before catching herself and quickly correcting the date to 1976.
“She gave me a look that only a mother can give a child,” he said at the time.
No such incident occurred when the Bidens saw the Queen on Friday. She made Biden and other world leaders laugh as she posed for a group photo and asked, “Should you look like you are enjoying yourself?”
“Yes,” replied British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “We enjoyed ourselves despite the appearances.”
The Queen later spoke to the Bidens, an eco-park that claims to be home to the largest captive rainforest, at a reception at the Eden Project. She was accompanied by her son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and their grandson, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Earlier that day, the First Lady and Duchess of Cambridge attended a school to raise awareness of early childhood development programs. It was the first time they met.
“Joe and I are both looking forward to meeting the Queen,” Jill Biden told reporters. “This is an exciting part of the visit for us. We’ve been looking forward to it for weeks and now it’s finally here. It’s a nice start. “