Biden also gave remarks

The queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and has met every sitting U.S. president since Harry Truman, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson.

The first lady will also travel with the president to Windsor Castle to meet the queen Sunday after the summit, as previously announced.

The day Jill Biden departed with her husband for his first foreign trip as president, the first lady’s office sent out a picture that encapsulates how she Biden thinks about her new role. She’s sitting at a desk in a cornflower blue jacket, poring over a huge binder with stacks of papers all around.

The message: Jill Biden is not here to just focus on the frilly aspects of the first lady gig. She’s a woman of substance and wants the public to know it.

In some ways, the veteran political spouse is a return to more traditional, non-controversial first ladies after one — Melania Trump — who enjoyed celebrity status but spent most of her time as a partisan lightning rod. In other ways, however, she’s a trailblazer: For the first five-ish months of “Jill’s husband’s” administration, she has already made history as the only first lady to work full time. Her staff has a policy of rarely, if ever, commenting on what she’s wearing. However, she does, like most modern first ladies, sometimes use her clothing to make a statement.

Thursday in the U.K., she sported a jacket with a message notably different from the “I really don’t care, do u?” jacket Trump famously wore while visiting a detention center for migrant children in 2018.

For this first presidential trip abroad, the first lady is working on cementing her independent, “Jill from Philly” image by setting up her own schedule during the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, primarily highlighting her main initiative on military families. She’s already hosted a roundtable with military spouses and met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new wife. On Friday, Biden is touring a preschool and participating in a roundtable on early childhood education with Duchess Catherine Middleton — an event that is sure to draw headlines on both sides of the Atlantic — and on Saturday will meet with a U.K. volunteer group that helps military vets deal with injuries.

Biden also gave remarks introducing her husband to U.S. troops stationed at an air base in Mildenhall, England on Wednesday. And she’ll accompany the president on his visit with the queen of England at Windsor Castle on Sunday.

“There are definitely those traditional aspects of the role that you will see on this trip,” an aide said.

But as the president brings a message of “America is back” to foreign allies during his trip, the first lady is bringing her own sense of normalcy and tradition, after four years of a first couple with a highly unconventional approach to the office.

Wearing a jacket emblazoned with the word “LOVE” on the back, Biden told reporters in Cornwall Thursday, “I think that we’re bringing love from America. This is a global conference and we are trying to bring unity across the globe and I think it’s needed right now, that people feel a sense of unity from all the countries and feel a sense [of] hope after this year of the pandemic.”

Jill Biden has a message on a jacket
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Aides say she’s “happy and honored” to handle those traditional duties most associated with being first lady: the dinners, standing beside the president at official events, etc. But she’s also working to modernize the role for both herself and future first ladies. The foreign trip is just the latest evidence of her focus.

“She doesn’t want to go over there and just have people write about her dresses and clothes. When she travels with her husband, she also wants to do substantive things on her own,” one aide familiar with her planning and thinking said. “She will play the ceremonial role but she has things she wants to do. She doesn’t want to just go and be arm candy.”

It’s the operating mantra of her office. Her first few months in office have been a flurry of activity proving that point. She’s gone on more than 20 trips, the vast majority of them solo, pushing the pandemic recovery message, visiting schools, talking up free community college and services for military families.

Taking office during a pandemic has actually fit Biden’s approach to the job. It has allowed her to dodge some of the more ceremonial aspects of being first lady, like hosting parties, and instead focus on policy. It has also allowed both her and the president to play the roles the Trumps notably didn’t: consolers in chief.

“I think we want somebody who’s real and can relate to us and to relate to the struggles that people face with the economy and Covid and everything. I think that that’s what she’s going to try to do: is bring that empathy,” Kate Andersen Brower, author of “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies,” said.

That empathy is often on show during those trips. At a vaccine clinic in New Mexico in April, Biden thought a woman looked scared to get her vaccine so she walked over to her and put her arm around the woman’s shoulder as her shot was administered.

There’s also a sense that Biden is working to be a first lady that’s a bit more approachable than her predecessor.

“I think we do tend to look at the president and the first lady with this, usually with a sense of reverence and we put them on this pedestal. I think it helps that you had a sense of humor about yourself. Dr. Biden’s supposed to have a great sense of humor,” she said. On April Fool’s, Biden donned a short black wig, black face mask and a badge with the name “Jasmine” on her shirt and handed out ice cream bars to the press corps traveling with her until she laughed, revealing who she was.

That sense of normalcy is something she is cognizant of, an aide says, but it’s also just “Dr. B being herself.” An aspect of being herself is continuing to teach English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College while balancing her official duties.

Years ago, it would’ve been a risky move: a first lady working or wanting to hold more substantive events on a foreign trip with her husband or at all. Most famously, Hillary Clinton was hit over and over as first lady for stepping out of the expected bounds, most famously leading failed health care reform efforts. There are no signs that Biden is going to go as far as Clinton, who clearly had higher political aspirations. But her keeping her day job is still breaking the mold.

“It’s hard for me to think of it in historic terms,” she said before Inauguration Day, noting that she “taught all eight years while second lady,” from 2009 to 2016.

Biden may not cop to it publicly, but Brower said she is slowly changing the expectations for the role of first lady of the United States: not too serious, substantive on her own and independent. “I think she’s carved out this niche and probably because she’s been waiting to do this job for decades. So she kind of feels comfortable with it,” said Brower.

Biden will be the 13th U.S. leader she’s greeted, spanning decades of what’s been historically called the “special relationship” between Washington and London.

With Biden set to meet queen, a look back at presidents and royalty
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This week it was revealed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson doesn’t like that phrase, with one aide reportedly saying he felt it sounded needy.

Instead on Friday Johnson described the Anglo-American bond as an “indestructible relationship.”

“It’s a relationship that has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world,” he told the BBC, also calling it a “deep and meaningful relationship.”

The president has repeatedly used the phrase “special relationship” despite his counterpart’s distaste for it.

“We affirmed the special relationship — it’s not said lightly — the special relationship between our people,” he said Thursday after a meeting that both sides hailed as a success.

Johnson described working with Biden as “a big breath of fresh air.”

Image: Biden, right, talks with Johnson on Thursday ahead of the summit
Last year, while campaigning against then-President Donald Trump, Biden called Johnson the “physical and emotional clone” of Trump.Toby Melville / AP
But the summit has been far from tension-free.

Before even landing on British soil, the Biden administration issued a stern warning to Johnson not to let Brexit threaten peace in Northern Ireland.

Tensions have risen in the province because, in the eyes of some, Brexit has weakened its ties with the U.K. and risked pulling it closer into the orbit of the Irish Republic, a separate country to the south.

That risks reigniting decades of conflict between mostly Catholic “nationalists” — who want Northern Ireland to reunite with the Irish Republic — and mostly Protestant “unionists” — who want the area to remain part of the U.K.

Biden wants the world to know America is back. But has everyone else moved on?
Biden, who has Irish heritage, has warned that the U.S. does not want to see any threat to the Good Friday Agreement, a landmark 1998 peace deal brokered in part by the U.S.

On Thursday evening French President Emmanuel Macron also chastised Britain’s attempts to renegotiate aspects of Brexit covering Northern Ireland. The U.K.’s attempts to do so have become a major point of friction with the E.U.

Queen Elizabeth II will travel to the Group of Seven summit in southwest England on Friday, adding some star power to a diplomatic charm offensive as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the “indestructible relationship” between Britain and the United States.

While there was always meant to be some royal presence at the G-7 summit in the small Cornish seaside town of Carbis Bay, the arrival of the queen is a surprise.

She will join leaders of the G-7 countries — the U.S., Canada, Japan, the U.K., Germany, France and Italy — for dinner as they seek to move past any tensions undercutting the event and present a united front in their bid to rejuvenate the beleaguered West.

The leaders are set to discuss plans to donate hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries, climate change, and setting a global minimum corporation tax of 15 percent.

The White House has also made it clear that it sees the trip as a chance to rally allies round the cause of liberal democracy against what Biden sees as the authoritarian threat of Russia and China.

Charles, the heir to the throne and a climate activist, will host a reception for the leaders and prominent CEOs “to discuss how the private sector can work with governments to tackle the climate emergency,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

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The Duchess of Cambridge also met Jill Biden on Friday for a trip to a local school.

Asked if she had any wishes for her new niece Lilibet Diana, Kate said she wished her “all the very best.”

“I can’t wait to meet her,” she added. “We haven’t met her yet. I hope that will be soon.”

Asked if she had facetimed with Harry and Meghan’s daughter since her birth last week, Kate said she had not.

Jill Biden and Kate Middleton meet for the first time

The arrival of top-tier royals represents the most potent soft-power weapon that Britain has to offer, even if the royal brand has been beset by familial crisis.

The country is hosting this international spectacle at a time when it is trying to redefine its international role after an acrimonious departure from the European Union last year.–166417389/–166417432/–166417919/–166418047/–166418192/–166417389/–166417432/–166417919/–166418047/–166418192/–166417389/–166417432/–166417919/–166418047/–166418192/

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