(WASHINGTON) — Queen Elizabeth II will open the gates to Windsor Castle to welcome President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on June 13 as Biden makes his first trip overseas as president this month.
Buckingham Palace first announced the news in a tweet Thursday, which the White House then confirmed in a statement laying out the whole of Biden’s trip to the United Kingdom, Belgium and Switzerland.
“This trip will highlight America’s commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the Transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Biden is scheduled to meet first with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on June 10 ahead of the Group of Seven or G-7 summit, being held this year in Cornwall from June 11-13. It’s the first in-person summit of world leaders since the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting with the Bidens is also slated to be the Queen’s first major meeting with a world leader since her husband, Prince Philip, died in April at the age 99. Most of the 95-year-old monarch’s events were also canceled in the last year due to COVID-19.
It will be the first time the Bidens meet the Queen, who has met with every U.S. president during her 69 years on the throne, except for Lyndon Johnson.
Biden has previously met Prince Charles, the Queen’s firstborn son and heir to the throne, during a visit to Washington in 2015 while Biden was serving as vice president. He has also met Prince Harry in 2017 when he and then-President Barack Obama traveled to the Invictus Games in Toronto.
After hosting Presidents George W. Bush and Obama for state dinners, the Queen did the same for then-President Donald Trump in June 2019 — only the third U.S. president invited for an official state visit. Trump previously visited the U.K. in 2018, taking tea with the queen at Windsor Castle during a less ceremonial working visit.
Trump stirred controversy on that visit after he arrived 15-minutes late for a meeting with the Queen and walked ahead of her as they inspected the Guard of Honour, breaking royal protocol.
Although touching the Queen is thought to be taboo and almost unprecedented, former first lady Michelle Obama raised eyebrows during a G-20 reception at Buckingham Palace in 2009. The Queen touched Mrs. Obama back when the first lady put her arm around the Queen.
It quickly became a controversy, but Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying it was a “mutual” gesture and denied that there are rules about touching the Queen.
“It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman told the Associated Press. “We don’t issue instructions on not touching the queen.”
Obama recalled the moment in her memoir, “Becoming,” saying, she did what was “instinctive” to her when she feels connected to a new person. The two exchanged words over uncomfortable high-heeled shoes.
“I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder,” the former first lady said. “I daresay the Queen was OK with it too, because when I touched her, she pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back.”
After the G-7 and meeting with the Queen, the president will head to Brussels to participate in the NATO and U.S.–European Union summits. To end his trip, Biden is traveling to Geneva to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16.
The first lady is scheduled to return to the U.S. following the meeting with the Queen.
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