Joe Biden congratulated by Johnson ahead of inauguration
George W Bush is just one of the former US Presidents who will be gathered at Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington DC today. The turbulent presidential election saw Mr Biden win a clear victory over outgoing President Donald Trump, although the Republican repeatedly claimed the result had been rigged. Mr Trump will not be attending the inauguration — making him the first President in 150 years to miss his successor’s swearing-in ceremony.
Aside from Mr Trump, Jimmy Carter is the only former President not attending — at 96, he is the oldest living President.
Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama are all expected to witness Mr Biden’s swearing-in by the Supreme Court in person.
While the former Presidents are not expected to play a significant role, returning to Washington DC from his home state of Texas may remind him of an embarrassing experience he had when he was in the White House.
The Queen was welcomed by a 21-gun salute when she met with the then President in May 2007, on the final day of a visit to the US.
During the ceremony, she called the States a “great nation” and agreed it was time to “take stock of our present friendship”.
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However, Mr Bush’s speech stumbled over his dates and accidentally said the Queen had helped celebrate the US bicentennial in 1776 not 1976.
He soon realised his blunder and turned to wink at the Queen.
Embarrassed, he also muttered to the assembled dignitaries: “She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.”
Mr Bush is 20 years younger than the Queen — the 94-year-old monarch is actually the same age as Mr Bush’s father, George HW Bush — making the comment all the more embarrassing for the then President.
However, the Queen evidently did not take it to heart.
She is known for her robust sense of humour, and she ended up making a gesture towards the incident in her opening speech for the British ambassador’s residence in Washington later that same day.
She smiled, and said: “I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776…’”
The guests laughed and Mr Bush remarked: “Your Majesty, I can’t top that one.”
The Queen has met 12 of the 13 Presidents who have been in the White House during her reign and is likely to invite Mr Biden for a state visit during his term.
Mr Trump, in particular, emphasised how he saw the monarch as a “great friend” after his state visit to the UK and Buckingham Palace in 2019.
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Interestingly, Mr Biden actually made an obscure reference to the Queen at Mr Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
As the outgoing Vice President, Mr Biden was able to speak briefly in the Senate chamber at the ceremony.
He quietly muttered, “God save the Queen”, just after he had certified the election of Mr Trump.
As the Queen is not the US’ head of state, it was a remarkable moment and left legions of royal watchers wondering what he had meant by that.
Some believed he was suggesting the US was better off with a monarchy than with Mr Trump, others believed he was making a reference to the Queen’s health as she had come down with a heavy cold at the time.
There was even speculation that he had been referring to the Sex Pistols song which begins with the lyrics: “God Save the Queen, the fascist regime.”
But some believed he had just misspoken, and had intended to say: “God save the Republic.”
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