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Joe Biden will not attend coronation of Charles III, will send VP or his wife instead

By Sarah May on
 April 1, 2023

In what is viewed by many as a rather surprising move by the White House, it now appears that President Joe Biden is not expected to travel to the United Kingdom to attend the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, as the Daily Mail reports.

To avoid the perception that the government of the United States is snubbing the new British monarch, however, sources indicate that first lady Jill Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris may be dispatched to London instead.

Absence not unprecedented

Despite the expectation that several heads of state, including those from Spain, France, Ireland, Monaco, and Japan will be in attendance at the coronation, the Mail notes that no American president has ever attended such events in the past, and therefore Biden's absence is not terribly significant in and of itself.

American representation at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, for instance, was comprised of the governor of California as well as the U.S. Army chief of staff, sources observed, and according to the Mail, citing the U.K, Daily Telegraph, talks between Washington and Buckingham Palace have been “cordial and diplomatic,” and there is no indication of tensions over Biden's decision not to attend.

Even so, some critics have hinted that by giving the ceremony a miss, Biden is signaling that his administration's support lies not with Britain, but with Ireland.

As the Mail pointed out Biden is slated to pay a visit to Northern Ireland next month but will depart a few days prior to Charles' arrival for ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that ended much of the violent political conflict in the region that had persisted for decades, again, missing a possible opportunity to meet with the monarch.

Tradition with a twist

Poised for his official ascension to the throne on May 6, Charles III became king upon the September death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Though the ceremony formalizing the transition will incorporate numerous elements grounded in traditions that are thousands of years old, Charles has reportedly endeavored to inject a bit of modernity in the proceedings as well.

Specifically, Charles has sought a shortening of the coronation itself and a paring down of the list of attendees, which is now known not to count the American president among its numbers.

Charles is also said to be keen on including members of the royal families from other parts of the world as well as heads of state from across the globe, shifting the traditional focus somewhat from prior coronations, which were viewed as centered on the monarch and his subjects, as the Mail added.

Dignitaries in abundance

Despite Biden's anticipated absence, the May 6 proceedings will suffer from no shortage of high-profile figures, as the U.K. Telegraph, notwithstanding the truncated guest list, which is said to have gone from the roughly 8,000 who attended Queen Elizabeth's coronation to around 2,000.

In what is seen as a noteworthy break from prior practice, Charles has sought to include members of foreign royal families in the upcoming investiture, something which was not typically done due to the belief that a coronation is meant to be a “sacred ceremony between a monarch and their people in the presence of God,” according to the outlet.

A royal insider suggested, however, “Inviting the King of Jordan, the Sultan of Brunei, the Sultan of Oman and the Scandinavian royals – who are all friends of Charles – will be a good bit of soft power and diplomacy.”

The events will also feature the attendance of numerous Members of Parliament, Cabinet ministers, peers, members of the Privy Council, as well as a heads of state from British allies and Commonwealth member states.

Family affair

Even with all of the famous names set to be present in Westminster Abbey next month, the eyes of the world will surely be on the British royal family itself, members of which have been entangled in a soap opera of their own in recent years.

While heir to the throne, Prince William, and his immediate family will undoubtedly take center stage throughout the proceedings, other so-called “working members” of the royal family are also set to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony on the big day, according to the Telegraph, including the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

Also positioned for significant roles in the coronation are members of Queen Consort Camilla's family, including several of her teenage grandchildren, in yet another departure from convention.

Bringing perhaps the greatest degree of drama with regard to possible attendees, of course, is the ongoing saga of whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will make the trans-Atlantic journey, given the tensions that have arisen in the wake of the incendiary allegations the pair has made against the family over the past few years, culminating with Prince Harry's controversial recent memoir, Spare.