President Joe Biden said Thursday that he plans to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the monarch who is remembered as a “great lady.”
“Yes,” Biden told reporters on Friday when asked if he planned to attend the funeral, details of which Buckingham Palace has not announced.
“I don’t know what the details are yet, but I’m going,” Biden said in Ohio, where he was traveling to set up a computer chip factory.
Earlier on Friday, Britain’s new King Charles III said during a televised address that services to his late mother would take place later this month.
“In a little over a week’s time we shall meet as a nation, as a Commonwealth, and indeed as a world community, to the comfort of my beloved mother,” Charles said in his speech, his first.
Biden told reporters in Ohio he has yet to speak to Charles after the Queen’s death.
“I know him. I haven’t spoken to him. I haven’t called him yet,” Biden said.
On Friday, White House aides began making initial preparations for Biden To travel to London for the Queen’s party Funeral. They did not plan to announce his attendance until after the palace revealed the arrangements, according to people familiar with the matter.
The president is likely to be accompanied by an official delegation. Remember Biden the Queen on Thursday As a “great lady” she “marked an era”.
“We are so glad we met her,” Biden told British Embassy staff in Washington after signing the condolence book.
American flags at the White House, other federal buildings, military installations and embassies abroad remained at half-staff Friday after Biden ordered them to be lowered “until arrest day.”
In a statement issued jointly with his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, the president described the Queen as “a constant presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who would not have known their country without her”.
As a young senator, Biden met the Queen in 1982. They met again last year, when she took a trip to the G7 summit in Cornwall.
Later, she hosted Biden at Windsor Castle for tea, where she asked the president about Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin from Russiatwo autocrats who caused tensions through military aggression.
Biden was then profusely describing their interaction.
“I don’t think she would be offended but she reminded me of my mother, with her looks and generosity,” Biden said. “She’s very gracious, which isn’t surprising, but we had a great conversation.”
The White House has refused to expand on Biden’s plans to attend the Queen’s funeral, which is expected in the coming weeks.
“There is a process, there is a protocol here, a formal protocol by which leaders are invited, so we will not get ahead of that protocol,” press secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
Pressed again, she reiterated that the White House would follow protocol, but added that the Queen’s loss “will be felt by people all over the world,” calling her an “steadfast presence.”
Jean-Pierre said: “Our country and our people have strong ties and I think I speak for the country when I say our thoughts are with the people of the United Kingdom.”
The last time a British monarch died, the US president did not attend the funeral. President Harry S Truman sent his Secretary of State Dean Acheson to attend George VI’s funeral in 1952.
At recent high-level funerals, official US delegations have included both current and former US presidents. When Pope John Paul II died, President George W. Bush attended with his father, President George Bush Sr., and former President Bill Clinton.
President Barack Obama included George W. Bush, Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter in the official delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Bush traveled with him to South Africa on Air Force One with Hillary Clinton.
Previous presidents do not expect to receive individual funeral invitations from Buckingham Palace, according to two people familiar with the protocol, with the United States expected to receive one formal invitation through the White House.
This means that Biden will ultimately decide who will join his official delegation at the funeral in the UK. A White House official said no decisions will be made until a formal invitation is presented by the palace, even with initial discussions already underway.
The question is how former President Donald Trump fits into the picture. While the Queen was remembered this week as a “great and beautiful lady”, Trump has often been either intentionally absent – or intentionally excluded – from meetings of the so-called Presidents Club.
Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will be the latest test of how to handle this sensitive diplomatic issue.
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