Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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Biden arrives at Queen’s funeral after paying tribute to ‘special’ relationship

US President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived at Westminster Abbey in London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral to commemorate the “special relationship” with the late monarch.

President Biden is one of many heads of state from around the world to attend the service of Britain’s longest-serving monarch.

The Queen died on September 8, aged 96, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, just months after celebrating her Platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years on the throne.

The Bidens looked solemn as they entered the Abbey holding hands. The first lady wore a Chanel-inspired black pencil skirt suit with a matching fascinator, and the president chose a black suit, with a black tie and a white handkerchief in his jacket pocket.

Upon their arrival in London, the President and his wife visited the Queen’s coffin as she lay in state in Westminster Hall. They had also signed the official book of condolences before attending a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles III on Sunday evening.

President Biden was one of the few world leaders to arrive in his own transport after funeral planners said heads of state had to travel together by bus for safety reasons.

He traveled to Westminster Abbey in an armored vehicle, known as “The Beast”, but ran into trouble on the way to the funeral.

Traffic was at a standstill in London, with the presidential motorcade blocked near Marble Arch.

President Biden waved to onlookers who had lined the streets, as the beast slowly crawled through the English capital.

Biden was the last sitting US president during Elizabeth’s reign, and she met its first president, Harry S Truman, when she was still a princess.

The Queen managed to meet all 13 of the 14 presidents during her reign, with the exception of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was in the White House from 1963 to 1969.

After signing the book of condolences at Lancaster House, President Biden described the Queen as “honest” and “decent”.

“To all the people of England, to all the people of the United Kingdom, our thoughts are with you,” Biden said.

“You were lucky to have had her for 70 years. We all were. The world is better for her.”

Biden also told the Queen’s successor, King Charles III, that “his mother’s dignity and steadfastness deepened the enduring friendship and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”

The Bidens have a long-standing relationship with many members of the royal family.

President Biden first met the Queen while still a senator in 1982, and in June 2021 Elizabeth met him for the first time since becoming president, welcoming him and his wife at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England.

“I don’t think she would be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother, her look and just her generosity,” the president told media after the visit.

“She’s extremely personable, not surprisingly, but we had a great conversation.”

During that June 2021 visit, the Bidens also met then-Prince Charles, his wife Camilla and eldest son Prince William at a G7 reception.

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