WINDSOR – President Joe Biden and his aviator sunglasses met Queen Elizabeth II on a bright Sunday afternoon.
The queen hosted the president and first lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle, her royal residence near London. Biden flew to London after wrapping up his participation in a three-day summit of leaders of the world's wealthy democracies in Cornwall, in southwestern England. He arrived at the castle aboard the presidential helicopter and was ferried to the queen in a black Range Rover.
The 95-year-old monarch greeted the Bidens in the castle’s quadrangle, where she waited beneath a covered dais that shielded her from the sun on one of the hottest days of the year so far in the United Kingdom. Assembled soldiers from the Queen’s Company First Battalion Grenadier Guards gave a royal salute and the Bidens placed their hands over their hearts as the U.S. national anthem was played.
The president was then led across the grass for an inspection of the Guard of Honor. He wore a stern expression on his face after he had removed his trademark sunglasses, but when the 78-year-old Biden got to the end of the row, he smiled for the soldier in front of him who held up a sword. The queen and Jill Biden remained on the dais.
Biden returned to the dais and he, the first lady and the white-gloved woman who has held the British throne for nearly 70 years watched the military march past before they went inside for tea. As they left the dais, Biden offered the queen an elbow. She declined and stepped down on her own power, using the handrail.
The Bidens emerged from the castle just shy of having spent a full hour with the queen and boarded the helicopter for the return trip to London.
At Heathrow Airport, Biden talked about the queen with his traveling press corps, saying she was “very gracious,” that she asked him about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and that he had invited her to visit the White House.
“I don’t think she’ll be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother,” Biden said before he boarded Air Force One for his next stop, Brussels.
It generally is frowned upon for anyone to reveal the contents of their private talks with the queen.
Biden is the 13th American president to meet the monarch. President Lyndon B. Johnson is the only one who did not make her acquaintance while he was in office.
She has welcomed four other U.S. presidents to Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating during the coronavirus pandemic. They are Donald Trump in 2018, Barack Obama in 2016, George W. Bush in 2008 and Ronald Reagan in 1982.
Biden's first time meeting the queen came in November 1982, when as a U.S. senator he traveled to the United Kingdom for a meeting of the British-American Parliamentary Group, the White House said Sunday. Biden was part of a group that met with the monarch during that visit.
The queen has been riding out the pandemic at Windsor Castle, but also has begun getting out now and again after the April death of her husband, Prince Philip, at age 99.
On Friday, she joined other royal family members, including Prince Charles and Prince William and their spouses, at a reception in Cornwall for the Group of Seven leaders.
Superville reported from Washington.