The expected face-to-face between Carlos III and Biden, the most Irish president in the US.

All eyes will be on this Monday on the exchanges between King Charles III of England and the US president, Joe Biden, in whom his family of Irish origin instilled a certain suspicion towards the British crown and whose absence at the monarch’s coronation ceremony was interpreted by some as rude.

The meeting will be the first between the two leaders since the coronation of Carlos III in May last year.

During the meeting, which will be held in the majestic Windsor Castle, both will strive to demonstrate their commitment to the so-called “special relationship”, which positions the US and the UK as two of the world’s closest allies, sharing similar visions in political, economic and cultural terms.

However, on a personal level, Biden’s relationship with the UK is more complex. The president was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a stronghold of Irish Catholics in the United States, and grew up surrounded by his mother’s family, whose Irish ancestors came to the country in the 19th century fleeing famine in Ireland.

Biden was raised on the lessons of Irish lore, including an important saying from his mother: never kiss the pope’s ring or curtsy to the queen.

In his memoirs “Promises to Keep” (2007), Biden himself explains the meaning of those words and argues that his mother sought to instill in him the value of equality, reminding him that no one, be it a pope or a queen, is superior to others. the rest.

“Remember, Joey, you’re a Biden,” Catherine Finnegan used to tell her son. “No one is better than you. You’re not better than anyone, but no one is better than you.”

That strong Irish heritage has always been a source of pride for Biden, who despite everything had a great appreciation for Queen Elizabeth II.

When the monarch passed away in September 2022, Biden heaped praise on her, saying she had defined “an era.” In addition, in her last meeting in June 2021, the president gave the monarch the highest possible praise: she said that she reminded him of her mother and thanked him for the generosity that she had shown him.

Although Biden saw the queen as a mother figure, with Carlos III the relationship will possibly be more balanced.

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Both have several points in common: Biden, 80, and Carlos III, 74, have assumed the most important roles of their lives at an advanced age, after decades of preparation, and to some extent generate less fascination in the public than their predecessors.

They also share great concern about the climate crisis, a cause that the British monarch has championed for decades and that Biden has prioritized both internationally and domestically since assuming the presidency in January 2021.

The meeting between the two leaders, however, will take place in the midst of a somewhat sour atmosphere after various sectors of the right in the US and the United Kingdom criticized Biden for not attending the coronation ceremony in May Carlos III, which was attended by the first lady, Jill Biden.

The White House then defended the decision, arguing that no other US president had attended the coronation of a British monarch before.

The last time there was a coronation in the United Kingdom, that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) was absent and sent a delegation to represent the United States.

Despite everything, former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) took the opportunity to criticize Biden and consider his absence “very disrespectful”; while, in the United Kingdom, Conservative MP Bob Seely described the US president’s decision as “silly”.

Biden has also sparked anger from some quarters in the UK with his April trip to the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday deal, which ended three decades of conflict. on the island.

Specifically, the hardline wing of Northern Ireland’s pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) harshly criticized the US leader for spending four days in Ireland and only one in Northern Ireland.

The former chief minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, was the most unforgiving, going so far as to say that Biden “hates the UK”.

Biden faces the challenge tomorrow of silencing this criticism and demonstrating his government’s commitment to the United Kingdom. All without hiding his Irish roots and, as requested by his mother, without kissing rings or bowing.

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