Joe Biden’s trip to the UK is the subject of controversy over his Irish past

On Monday, July 10, all eyes will be on the exchanges between King Charles III of England and US President Joe Biden, as his family of Irish descent instilled certain suspicions towards the British crown and his absence at the coronation ceremony of the British monarch. Some interpreted the monarch as insolent.

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

During the meeting to be held in Majestic Windsor CastleBoth will seek to demonstrate their commitment to the so-called “special relationship”, which positions the United States and the United Kingdom as two of the world’s closest allies, sharing similar visions politically, economically and culturally.

How does Joe Biden’s Irish background factor into that?

However, on a personal level, Biden’s relationship with the United Kingdom is more complex. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a stronghold of Irish Catholics in the United States, Chief grew up surrounded by his mother’s family, whose ancestors came to the country in the 19th century to escape famine in Ireland.


Biden was raised with the lessons of Irish traditions, including an important saying from his mother: Never kiss the pope’s ring or kiss the queen.

In his memoirs Promises to Keep (2007), the American president himself explains the meaning of these words and argues that his mother sought to instill in him the value of equality, reminding him that he was nobody, be it pope or queen. , superior to others.

Kathryn Finnegan used to tell her son: “Remember, Joey, you’re the Bidens.” Nobody is better than you. You are not better than anyone, but no one is better than you.

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Such a strong Irish heritage It has always been a point of pride for Biden, who despite everything felt great esteem for Queen Elizabeth II.

When the king died in September 2022, Biden paid tribute to her, saying she defined an “era.” In addition, at their last meeting in June 2021, the president paid the king the highest possible praise: she reminded him, he said, of his mother and thanked her for the generosity she had shown him.

Similarities between Joe Biden and Carlos III

Although Biden saw the Queen as a mother figure, the relationship with Carlos III may have been more balanced.

They both have several points in common: Biden, 80, and Carlos III, 74, They take on their most important roles late in life, after decades of preparation, and in some ways generate less audience appeal than their predecessors.

They also share a major concern about the climate crisis, an issue that the British monarch has championed for decades and that Biden has prioritized both internationally and domestically since he took office in January 2021.

The meeting between the two leaders will take place in a somewhat tense atmosphere after various sectors of the right in the United States and the United Kingdom criticized Biden for not attending Carlos III’s coronation ceremony in May, which First Lady Gilles did. Biden attended.

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 Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in the United Kingdom was in 1953. The then president was Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), absent He sent a delegation to represent the United States.

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After all, former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) took the opportunity to criticize Biden and consider his absence “very disrespectful”; While in the UK, Conservative MP Bob Seeley called the US president’s decision “ridiculous”.

Biden’s disagreements with the United Kingdom

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

Specifically, the tougher wing of the Pro-British Democratic Unionist Party The DUP of Northern Ireland sharply criticized the US leader for spending four days in Ireland and only one in Northern Ireland.

Former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Fosterwas the harshest, going so far as to assert that Biden “hates the United Kingdom”.

Biden faces the challenge of silencing such criticism and demonstrating his government’s commitment to the UK. All without hiding his Irish roots and, as his mother demanded, without kissing rings or kneeling.

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