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Exclusive: Biden Unlikely to Attend King Charles’ Coronation

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Updated: | Originally published:

When King Charles III is formally crowned at Westminster Abbey on May 6, it is unlikely President Joe Biden will be in attendance, according to two people familiar with Biden’s plans.

“That does not feel like an event Joe Biden will attend,” says a White House official, who requested anonymity to discuss the President’s plans. The same official stressed that Biden’s schedule for May had not yet been finalized.

Foreign governments have recently been notified of the crown’s intent to invite foreign monarchs and other world leaders to attend Britain’s first coronation in 70 years, and formal invitations are set to be sent out in April, according to the Daily Mail. A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Washington wrote in an email to TIME that Buckingham Palace would release an update on who is confirmed to attend the coronation “in due course.”

Charles became King in September upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attended Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. Biden has often spoken of the tight bonds between the U.S. and Britain. And he was fond of Queen Elizabeth. After the two met in Windsor Castle in 2021, Biden said the Queen’s “look” and “generosity” reminded him of his own mother. ​​When Biden spoke with King Charles to offer his condolences after the death of Queen Elizabeth, Biden “conveyed his wish to continue a close relationship with the King,” according to a White House description of the conversation.

But Biden has long held a personal discomfort with the British monarchy. He is vocal and proud about his Irish heritage on his mother’s side, whose family he grew up with in Scranton, Pa., and who often expressed disdain for the monarchy that brutally colonized the island of Ireland for hundreds of years.

Shortly after election day in November 2020, a BBC reporter shouted out to Biden, “A quick word for the BBC?” Biden’s reply: “The BBC? I’m Irish.” Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the Oval Office. When Biden moved in, he didn’t include Churchill in his redecoration of the iconic room.

Biden recalled in his memoir, Promises to Keep, that the Finnegans, his mother’s Irish-American relatives who he lived with for a period as a child, held on tight to “Irish grudges.” Biden remembered his Aunt Gertie telling him, “You’re father’s not a bad man. He’s just English.”

Biden also recalled in his memoir how his mother Catherine “Jean” Biden taught him that authority figures were no better then he was, just because of their position. In 1982, when he was preparing to meet Queen Elizabeth for the first time, she told him, “Don’t you bow down to her.”

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation 70 years ago was a watershed moment in Britain’s history. Her death after a historic 70-year reign quickly drew speculation about the institution’s future with Charles at the helm. Buckingham Palace is reportedly struggling to book A-list British entertainers for his coronation.

Read more: The Future of the British Monarchy Is More Uncertain Than Ever

Though he has not made a final decision, Biden is widely expected to run for re-election in 2024, though the timing of that announcement remains unclear.

If Biden ends up not attending Charles’ coronation in May, he won’t be the first president to skip the crowning of a British monarch. President Dwight Eisenhower didn’t attend the last coronation, 70 years ago, when Queen Elizabeth went through the solemn ceremony on June 2, 1953.

In his stead, Eisenhower sent a four-person delegation made up of luminaries of the time. That included prominent New York editor and writer Fleur Cowles; Omar Bradley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff who had commanded U.S. Army forces on D-Day and is namesake of the modern U.S. armored Bradley fighting vehicle; George Marshall, former secretary of State and the architect of the program to rebuild Europe after World War II known as the Marshall Plan; and Earl Warren, who would later become chief justice of the Supreme Court.

If the Queen considered Eisenhower’s absence a snub, she didn’t show it. Eisenhower hosted Queen Elizabeth at the White House for a state banquet in 1957. And in 1959, Queen Elizabeth brought Eisenhower to Balmoral Castle in Scotland. According to the National Archives, she made him “drop scones” from a family recipe. Eisenhower seems to have liked the dish, because the next year, the Queen included a copy of the recipe in a letter she wrote to him. On the recipe, the Queen wrote, “enough for 16 people.”

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