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Your Guide to Biden’s Relationship With the British Monarchy

4 minute read

Joe Biden is meeting with the U.K.’s King Charles as part of a pit stop in the U.K. ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. The U.S. President arrived in London on Sunday, ahead of an afternoon of royal pageantry.

Here’s what to know about the meeting, and Biden’s relationship with the British monarchy.

The Biden-Charles meeting agenda

King Charles will receive Biden at Windsor Castle on Monday afternoon local time, where the President will take part in a Ceremonial Arrival and Inspection of the Honor Guard—a mark of respect for visiting heads of state. This will be the first meeting since Biden attended Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in September; the U.S. President declined to attend King Charles’ coronation in May.

The pair will then enjoy afternoon tea in the castle, where Biden has been invited to view an exhibition of American items held by the Royal Collection. Additionally, Charles and Biden will meet with members of the Climate Finance Mobilization Forum, where leaders from the U.K. and U.S. will earlier in the day have discussed their commitment to climate action within emerging markets.

Prior to meeting King Charles, Biden sat down with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street and the leaders discussed their ongoing support of Ukraine’s counteroffensive and issues of economic partnership.

Biden’s history with the crown

While Charles and Biden have only shared respectful encounters and they are linked by a few commonalities—they are only six years apart in age and share a commitment to climate action—the latter’s longstanding discomfort with the British monarchy is no secret.

Biden, a vocal Irish American and the great-great-grandson of the Blewitts of County Mayo and the Finnegans of County Louth, has criticized Britain, and the monarchy, for its role in colonizing the island of Ireland for hundreds of years.

Read More: If Biden Is Going to Rebuild the International Order, He’ll Need a Friend Like the U.K.

In his memoir, Promises to Keep, Biden wrote that his mother, Catherine “Jean” Finnegan, has Irish American relatives who tightly held “Irish grudges.” He recalled his Aunt Gertie telling him, “You’re father’s not a bad man. He’s just English.”

Biden also revealed that his mother disliked England to such an extent that she once chose to sleep on a hotel floor in the U.K. rather than spend the night in a bed Queen Elizabeth had slept in, according to an autobiography written by comedian Georgia Pritchett.

In April, Biden paid a visit to Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. He declined to visit the U.K., which was interpreted in various quarters as a snub.

The U.S.-U.K. ‘special relationship’

With repeated assertions of a “rock solid” relationship between the U.K. and U.S. emerging from Sunak and Biden’s meeting, it’s likely the two nations want the trip to project the image of a united front, ahead of the NATO summit where disagreements among the defense alliance’s 31 member states are expected.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the two leaders would share notes before the summit, where conversation will be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.

“I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” he told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired Sunday. The summit is expected to see a new, multi-year program of assistance announced for Ukraine and the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council to upgrade ties.

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com