President Biden’s visit to Europe got off to a shaky start as he appeared to grab onto King Charles III for support upon arriving at Windsor Castle. Video footage captured the moment when Biden reached out to touch the British monarch’s arm after their handshake, causing the king to glance down in surprise. The president then placed his hand on Charles’ back as they walked together, with Biden displaying a noticeably stiff gait, likely attributed to his previous foot injury. It is worth noting that Buckingham Palace has clarified that there are no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting a monarch, although initiating physical contact is generally discouraged.
During a troop review, Biden engaged in a conversation with a Welsh Guard, momentarily diverting his attention away from King Charles, who stood by helplessly and gestured for the president to follow him. Biden’s current visit marks his first to the UK since skipping Charles’ coronation in May, though there appeared to be no visible animosity as he received a royal salute and listened to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Ahead of the NATO leaders’ summit in Lithuania, Biden met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. While rumors of Biden’s alleged anti-UK sentiments persist, the president affirmed that relations between the US and the UK remain “rock solid.” Sunak echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the strong alliance between their nations and their commitment to bolstering Euro-Atlantic security.
However, Biden’s comments on sending cluster munitions to Ukraine and his reservations about Ukraine joining NATO during its conflict with Russia have drawn criticism. Some members of the British Parliament have also expressed disapproval of Biden’s support for Ursula von der Leyen, the European Union candidate for the head of NATO, over UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. This decision is seen by many as a response to Britain’s announcement of plans to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 aircraft without consulting the US beforehand.
While the initial moments of Biden’s European trip may have raised eyebrows, the overall focus of his visit is on strengthening alliances and addressing important issues facing NATO. Despite occasional differences, the US-UK relationship remains robust, and both leaders are committed to bolstering security in the Euro-Atlantic region.