How Biden’s meeting with the Queen was very different to Trump’s UK visit

The Queen gave Donald and Melania Trump a tour of Buckingham Palace in June 2019 (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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The Queen has met so many US presidents that she might be forgiven for wondering which was which.

Her thirteenth will be easy to remember, however: he is the one in dark glasses who turned up holding hands with his wife.

Joe Biden also had one huge point in his favour: so keen was he, it seemed, not to keep the Queen waiting that he actually turned up early for his appointment to have tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Three years after Donald Trump was given the same honour, Biden and his wife Jill were formally welcomed by the Queen with a guard of honour and a military march past before being taken inside to have tea in the castle's Oak Room.

Her Majesty greets President Joe Biden at Windsor Castle today
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The US leader and First Lady flew to Windsor after attending the G7 summit in Cornwall. The presidential jet Air Force One took them to Heathrow before they were flown by helicopter – Marine One – to Windsor.

There, a relatively humble Range Rover – rather than the armoured limousine known as the Beast – took them on the last stage of the journey, through the George IV gate into the castle quadrangle.

The couple already met the Queen on Friday when she attended a reception for G7 leaders at the Eden Project.

The US national anthem played as the Bidens visited Windsor Castle today
(Image: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

But the formality and symbolism of being welcomed at Windsor by the world’s current longest-reigning monarch make such a visit a highly-valued occasion for any US president.

Donald Trump was visibly thrilled when he and Melania had tea with the Queen at Windsor in 2018, a meeting which went on longer than expected.

It was due to last around half-an-hour, but overran by almost 20 minutes.

Trump and the Queen make a toast during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace
(Image: Getty Images)

In 2008, when then US president George W Bush met with the monarch at Windsor, he enjoyed a traditional English afternoon spread of tea, small sandwiches and cakes in the White Drawing Room.

Although the welcome given to President Biden was similar to that accorded to Donald Trump, it was not identical.

When the Queen accompanied Trump as he inspected the guard of honour in 2018, it was an occasion which led to some awkwardness when the president seemed unsure whether to walk in front of or behind the Queen.

The Queen and Donald Trump during the commemorations for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings
(Image: PA)

This time the 95-year-old Queen remained on the dais with Mrs Biden while the president inspected the guard of honour.

After the presidential couple arrived at the castle they were welcomed by the Queen at the dais in the castle quadrangle.

The normal protocol is for the Queen to arrive several minutes before her guest. But she only had to stand at the dais for less than five minutes, as the Bidens were four minutes early. No wonder they seemed to get on so well.

The Queen and then US President George Bush arrive for the State Banquet at the palace in 2003
(Image: PA)

As the president got out of the car, wearing his dark glasses but having ditched his mask a few seconds before, he and his wife held hands, which was either a touching gesture of matrimonial affection or a useful bit of support as the 78-year-old president negotiated the steps up to the dais.

A Guard of Honour formed of The Queen’s Company First Battalion Grenadier Guards gave a Royal Salute, and the US national anthem was played.

By the time he inspected the guard of honour, accompanied by the Officer Commanding, Major James Taylor, and Major General Christopher Ghika, the sunglasses were off.

The role of accompanying the visitor during the inspection used to fall to the Duke of Edinburgh until his retirement in 2017.

Major General Ghika, who commands the Household Division, was the top UK commander in the US-led international anti-Isis coalition until two years ago.

He clashed with the Trump administration in 2019 when he disagreed with Washington’s assessment of the level of threat posed by Iran. His remarks playing down the threat received a rare public rebuke from the Pentagon.

The Queen appeared to be in a sunny mood to match the weather, chatting easily with the president and his wife.

He is the first overseas visitor welcomed by the Queen since the death of the duke in April at the age of 99.

There have been 14 US presidents during the Queen’s 69-year reign – from Harry S Truman to Biden.

The only one she never met was Lyndon B Johnson.

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