Joe Biden was today accused of breaching royal protocol by revealing the Queen asked him about Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping during their talks at Windsor Castle – and for not removing his sunglasses.
The US President, who visited the monarch with his wife Jill Biden yesterday following the G7 summit in Cornwall last week, said she ‘wanted to know’ about the Russian and Chinese presidents and they had a ‘long talk’.
Mr Biden told reporters before leaving London Heathrow Airport yesterday: ‘We had a great talk. 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.’
However, it is generally frowned upon for anyone to reveal the contents of their private talks with the Queen – something that also happened when Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump visited her in Britain in 2018.
Speaking about the latest protocol breach, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline today: ‘The Queen is supposed to have told Michelle Obama that royal protocol was rubbish. It has nonetheless been a rule that an audience with the Queen is strictly private and to reveal its contents is a breach of trust.
‘President Biden, by revealing that the Queen had asked about the Russian and Chinese leaders, did breach this rule. 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.
‘The President, who will soon be meeting President Putin, naturally gave no details. Biden’s revelation of what the Queen asked was surprising, but it appeared to emphasise 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.’
Mr Biden is set to meet with Mr Putin face to face this Wednesday in Geneva, having levied sanctions against Russian entities over allegations of interference in last year’s US election and the hacking of federal agencies.
As for China, Mr Biden has developed a rapport with Mr Xi, spending days traveling with him, but he has also vowed to confront the country’s ‘economic abuses’ and push back against human rights violations.
Separately today, Mr Biden was also accused of breaking a second protocol by keeping his sunglasses on when he met the Queen despite the intense sunshine on a very hot day that saw temperatures hit 84F (29C) in London.
US President Joe Biden wears sunglasses next to Queen Elizabeth II and First Lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle yesterday
Queen Elizabeth II with Joe and Jill Biden in the Grand Corridor during their visit to Windsor Castle in Berkshire yesterday
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden smile while standing with the Queen watching a Guard of Honour yesterday
Grant Harrold, a former butler to Prince Charles and Camilla, said Mr Biden should have removed his sunglasses at the point he greeted the Queen, rather than midway through the ceremony.
Mr Harrold told Newsweek: “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.
When Donald Trump also broke royal protocol by revealing he spoke to the Queen about Brexit
Donald Trump also broke royal protocol after meeting the Queen in 2018 when he discussed what they spoke about.
After meeting the Queen in 2018, Mr Trump told Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain of their discussions about Brexit: ‘She said it’s a very ‒ and she’s right ‒ it’s a very complex problem. I think nobody had any idea how complex this was going to be.
‘Everyone thought it was going to be ‘Oh it’s simple, we join or we don’t join, or let’s see what happens.’
The Queen stands with Donald and Melania Trump in July 2018
It is very rare for heads of state to discuss their private conversations with the Queen, especially about anything political, because she must remain completely apolitical publicly.
In fact, the former President actually acknowledged this when he was pushed for more detail.
Mr Trump was pushed for more detail, but added: ‘Well, I can’t talk, you know I’ve heard very strongly from a lot of people, you just don’t talk about that conversation with the Queen, right? You don’t want to do that.
‘Let me tell you what I can talk about. She’s an incredible woman, she is so sharp, she is so beautiful, when I say beautiful ‒ inside and out. That is a beautiful woman.’
Mr Trump also broke royal protocol again in 2019 when he touched the Queen’s back and shook hands with her as well as Prince Charles instead of bowing.
‘It’s fine for Biden to have had sunglasses on but he should have removed them when he actually met the Queen. Everyone else has to, it doesn’t matter who you are, even royals remove sunglasses when they meet royals.
‘It’s one of those rules I always write about in my etiquette texts. It is a breach of protocol. I get the sun might have been shining in his eyes but the queen didn’t have sunglasses on. Jill, the First Lady, didn’t have sunglasses on.’
During his meeting with the Queen yesterday, Mr Biden praised her generosity and said she reminded him of his mother after the monarch hosted him and the First Lady for tea at the Berkshire royal residence
Before leaving the UK, the 78-year-old President shared details of his conversations with the 95-year-old head of state and revealed he had invited her to visit the White House.
The Bidens landed in the grounds just before 5pm yesterday, a few minutes ahead of schedule, and were greeted by the Queen in the castle’s quadrangle.
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 beneath blue skies and hot sunshine.
Mr Biden accompanied the Officer Commanding the Guard of Honour, Major James Taylor, and Major General Christopher Ghika to inspect the Honour Guard, before returning to the dais to watch the military march-past with the Queen and First Lady.
The Queen was wearing a Stewart Parvin dress in a floral print jacquard in shades of pink, olive and russet, and she teamed it with a hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan and the diamond Jardine star brooch.
The Bidens walked into the castle with the monarch via the Sovereign’s Entrance at 5.18pm. Mr Biden walked alongside the Queen who said to the president: ‘You completed your talks.’ He replied: ‘Yes we did.’
Before going inside, the Queen introduced the Bidens to her lady-in-waiting Dame Annabel Whitehead. With bright sunshine overhead, Mr Biden was wearing dark sunglasses when he got out of his vehicle.
The President was wearing a dark suit while Dr Biden was wearing a powder blue skirt suit.
The palace said the couple left at 6.03pm – meaning they spent around 40 minutes inside the castle, with the whole visit lasting more than an hour in total. It is believed the visit overran by 10 minutes.
The chefs at Windsor Castle have trained in the best restaurants and hotels in the country, and will likely have made classic sandwiches and a range of cakes – with some of the ingredients sourced from royal estates.
The tea in the castle’s Oak Room comes after the Bidens met the Queen on Friday when she attended a reception for G7 leaders at the Eden Project.
Following the visit and before his departure from the UK, Mr Biden spoke about the Queen to reporters.
He said: ‘We had a long talk. She was very generous. I don’t think she’d be insulted but she reminded me of my mother. In terms of the look of her and just the generosity. She was very gracious.’
US President Joe Biden speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One at London Heathrow Airport yesterday
US President Joe Biden inspects a Guard of Honour after arriving to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle yesterday
The Queen and the Bidens watch as the Queen’s Company First Battalion Grenadier Guards pass by at Windsor yesterday
Mr Biden speaks to members of the media at Heathrow Airport yesterday as he discusses his conversation with the Queen
He added he had invited the monarch to the White House, saying: ‘She said, ‘What’s it like in the White House?’ I said, ‘Well it’s magnificent but it’s a lot of people’.’
The carefully-choreographed arrangements to welcome Mr Biden echo the welcome given to Mr Trump in 2018, when he travelled to Windsor to meet the monarch.
The Queen and Mr Biden walk together at Windsor yesterday
On that occasion however, the Queen joined Mr Trump in inspecting the troops.
As they walked across the lawn to view the troops, the Queen appeared to gesture and point several times for him to move closer to the front line of soldiers.
Mr Trump moved slightly nearer but then stood still in front of the Queen, meaning she had to navigate her way around him so they could walk side by side.
Escorting a visiting head of state to inspect the troops is a role which usually fell to the late Duke of Edinburgh, before he retired in 2017.
Mr Trump and the Queen had afternoon tea together, also in the Oak Room, with the meeting lasting longer than expected. It was due to last around half-an-hour, but overran by almost 20 minutes.
The Queen also entertained the Obamas at Windsor Castle in 2016 when the Duke of Edinburgh, then 94, famously drove Mr and Mrs Obama the short distance to the castle after Marine One touched down on the lawns of the residence.
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.
There have been 14 US presidents during the Queen’s 69-year reign – from Harry S Truman to Mr Biden.
Mr Biden, who is in the UK for the G7 summit, will be the 13th American leader to meet the monarch, with Lyndon B Johnson the only one the Queen has not met.
Her tea with Mr Biden comes the day after the Queen received her official birthday gift from the nation’s armed forces – a ceremony of pomp and pageantry in her honour – which was held at the castle.
The traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony, which is normally staged in London, was ruled out for the second successive year because of the threat of coronavirus.