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Carbis Bay, England – President Joe Biden said that Queen Elizabeth II reminded him of his mother after he took tea with the British monarch at Windsor Castle, his last set-piece event on Sunday before concluding the UK leg of his overseas trip.
After attending a three-day Group of Seven summit in Carbis Bay, in southwestern England, Biden headed to Windsor Castle, where the queen has spent much of her time since the pandemic began. Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived on Marine One.
After the meeting with Elizabeth, Biden, 78, told reporters that the 95-year-old monarch reminded him of his mother.
“I don't think she'd be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother, the look of her and just the generosity,” he said.
He also said that she had asked him, while they sipped tea, about China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin.
“She's extremely gracious. That's not surprising, but we had a great talk,” he told reporters on the tarmac at London's Heathrow Airport before departing for Brussels for a Nato summit. “She wanted to know what the two leaders that I – the one I'm about to meet with, Mr Putin, and she wanted to know about Xi Jinping, and we had a long talk.”
It's highly unusual to get a glimpse into conversations between the British monarch and world leaders. In Britain, there is a convention that prime minsters don't talk about their encounters with the queen, who is supposed to always remain politically neutral.
Then-Prime Minister David Cameron was mortified in 2014 when he was caught on tape telling former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg that the queen “purred down the line” after he told her the results of Scotand's referendum on independence. After news outlets picked up the footage, Cameron apologized on the BBC, saying he was “extremely sorry and very embarrassed.”
Biden is the 13th serving US president the queen has met in her long reign. She has gone horse riding with Ronald Reagan, danced with Gerald Ford and attended a baseball game with George HW Bush.
On Sunday, the Bidens were treated to an impressive show of pageantry. The queen greeted the couple in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle. The Queen's Company First Battalion Grenadier Guards gave a royal salute, which was followed by the US National Anthem.
There was then an inspection of the Guard of Honour, though the queen didn't walk with President Biden, as she did in 2018 with Donald Trump, who was accused of breaking protocol by walking in front of her.
The queen instead stayed with the first lady on the dais, which shielded them from the sun.
This is Elizabeth's first time in the international spotlight since the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, and she was seen managing her duties as she always has.
During a charity event in Cornwall, she helped to cut a cake – with a long ceremonial sword. Told that she could use a knife instead, she quickly shot down the idea. “I know there is” a knife, she said, as she proceeded with the sword.
She was the star attraction at a Friday reception for G-7 leaders, held at the Eden Project, a tourist attraction featuring biome domes.
The queen seemed to help put leaders at ease during the “family photo” when she mused: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you're enjoying this?”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was seated next to her, responded to her slightly cheeky question: “We have been enjoying ourselves, in spite of appearances.”