Well, President Joe Biden met the Queen this week, and while it does not appear that he sniffed her, touched her inappropriately or said anything weird, he did manage to break royal protocol.
Now, to be fair, when President Donald Trump visited Her Majesty in 2018, he also broke the same protocol, but we have been so constantly assured that Biden is a “breath of fresh air” as the Queen’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson described him, that he is so dignified and presidential as compared to the uncouth Orange Man, it is significantly more conspicuous that he clearly cared so little about respecting royal tradition.
I mean, last week, Biden said that he was enjoying his visit to the United Kingdom so very much that he didn’t “want to go home” on his second day, yet couldn’t be bothered to have an aide give him a quick overview of proper protocol when meeting the world’s current longest-reigning monarch and Queen of the country that is our closest global ally?
No, apparently, he could not.
Biden’s first offense when meeting Her Majesty was to keep his sunglasses on as he greeted the royal in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 13, 2021
“If you’re meeting the Queen face-to-face there’s no sunglasses or anything like that at all because eye contact is quite important with any introduction,” Grant Harrold, who once served as butler to Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, told Newsweek.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, even royals remove sunglasses when they meet royals,” he also noted.
In fact, you don’t even have to be a British royal etiquette expert to know that it’s not very polite to keep your sunglasses on when meeting someone for the first time, especially in such a formal setting.
This comes after he already appeared to break royal protocol by arriving at a G-7 event after she did, a major royal blunder.
Of course, keeping his sunglasses on while meeting the royal and poorly-timed arrivals are rather minor affronts.
Telling reporters the day after meeting the Queen what they had discussed during their private tea at the royal residence, on the other hand, is a much bigger deal. And yes, that’s exactly what Biden did next.
Speaking to reporters at Heathrow Airport on Sunday, Biden told them that he had a “great talk” with Her Majesty, then proceeded to tell the media what, precisely, they talked about.
“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, and she was very generous,” he said, according to The Daily Mail.
Yup. Not only did Biden break royal protocol, not to mention basic common decency, by telling the world what the Queen said to him in private, it also just so happens to be what the Queen said to him about the leaders of two countries with which both the U.S. and the U.K. share a tense, often adversarial relationship.
Now, to be fair, President Donald Trump did the same thing when he visited the Queen in 2018, telling British television personality Piers Morgan in an interview what he had discussed with Her Royal Highness in private.
However, while Trump revealed that he had also discussed something potentially sensitive — that is, Brexit — he only revealed that Queen Elizabeth had said the conflict over whether the U.K. would leave the European Union was “complicated,” which is perhaps just about the least controversial and most diplomatic thing the non-political royal could have possibly said to Trump about the highly divisive British political issue.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliam told the MailOnline, according to the Daily Mail, that while the Queen is supposed to have said that royal protocol was “rubbish,” it is nonetheless expected for anyone who finds herself in her royal presence to adhere to it all the same.
Considering that Trump breached this protocol, you would think that Biden would have been all the more vigilant to regard it, being the super-duper dignified, presidential leader that he is, and all. Was there no one available to brief him on how to behave before he met the Queen?
Fitzwilliam, interestingly, speculated, that the move may have been political.
“President Biden, by revealing that the Queen had asked about the Russian and Chinese leaders, did breach this rule,” he said. “It is very possible that, as the G7 sees itself as a bulwark of democracy against regimes such as Russia and China, that this comment may have been prearranged in line with this theme.”
“Biden’s revelation of what the Queen asked was surprising, but it appeared to [emphasize] the message of her government and its transatlantic ally, which is the world’s only superpower, that there is a great deal of concern about the activities of President Putin’s totalitarian regime and that of China’s President Xi too,” he added.
If the world’s only superpower was trying to put on a strong, fearless presence during President Biden’s first trip overseas, it has not been going well.
In addition to saying he’d prefer to stay in the U.K. than return to the country he is leading, he also had several of his now-signature senior moments during the G-7 talks, and despite gratuitous social distancing for the cameras between the fully-vaccinated world leaders, our president was seen strolling arm-in-arm with French President Emmanuel Macron (neither Biden nor the French are particularly known for their regard for personal space).
On Monday, meanwhile, President Biden expressed fear that he’d get in trouble with his handlers for talking to reporters for too long — the third time he has done so, making for an even worse look that it was done while abroad.
The contrast between President Trump and President Biden’s display of firm leadership at the G-7 summit can be summed up pretty well with these contrasting clips:
2017 G7 vs. 2021 G7 pic.twitter.com/JG9ZuBi3ya
— The Recount (@therecount) June 11, 2021
The President of the United States should be able to strike fear into the hearts of anyone threatening freedom, democracy, or U.S. interest, of which there are many spread around the globe.
Our current president can’t behave decently for the queen of our closest ally or convey any sense of strength and efficiency.
If Trump was an embarrassment to the United States, then Biden is a complete and utter disgrace.
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