May 24, 2024

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For a chief and a king, the view from above is curiously similar

For a chief and a king, the view from above is curiously similar

The two men – the American president and the British king – have waited decades to get their dream jobs, displaying a sense of normalcy and unity when they finally reach their thrones. They both prefer to forgo executive mansions in their own private retreats. They share a passion for addressing threats to the environment.

The two men, 80-year-old President Biden and 74-year-old King Charles III, are united in their challenges, too. Both are facing increasing public skepticism about their institutions. And both are battling doubts about whether they are the right person to lead the increasingly diverse groups they head.

“As older men at the peak of their careers, they need to redefine what it means to be older,” said Ariane Chernock, professor of history at Boston University and researcher of modern Britain, adding ways to connect with the younger, multicultural generation.

That common ground served as the backdrop for the meeting between the president and the king on Monday at Windsor Castle, near London, where He discussed investing in clean energy and efforts to combat climate change in developing countries. They are issues Charles has been warning about since the 1970s and that Biden has made them a major focus of his presidency.

Charles rallied leaders in Glasgow in 2021 to tackle climate change, warning them that “time is running out”. Mr. Biden declared the tax, energy, and health bill he signed last year as the “biggest step forward on climate ever.”

Sally Biddle-Smith, who has written several biographies of the British royal family, said these points of common interest can be helpful. She noted, “Biden, I think, would have a lot of respect for what Charles did and said” on the subject.

Both are also using the case to communicate more broadly with the public and, in Biden’s case, to motivate voters.

Mr. Biden has struggled for most of his presidency with low approval numbers. newly Reuters poll It showed he had an approval rating of 41 percent, a marginal increase from the low of his presidency, but an indication that voters still aren’t convinced, particularly about his economic record.

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Charles’ approval ratings have improved since becoming king. It was viewed favorably by 55 percent of respondents in a recent survey by market research firm YouGov. But that makes him the fourth most popular member of the royal family, after his son and heir, Prince William. His sister, Princess Anne. and his daughter-in-law, Catherine, Princess of Wales.

Mr. Biden and Charles have spent decades under the gaze of an unforgiving public, finding comfort in the familiar.

Mr. Biden escapes from the White House most weekends to one of his homes, in the town of Rehoboth Beach, Del. It is said that the King is not particularly fond of Buckingham Palace. He and Queen Camilla live in the cozier Clarence House when in London and spend weekends at Highgrove, his country retreat in Gloucestershire.

They have a common connection in the struggle. Mr. Biden, who has outgrown the stutter since childhood, said he has Inspired by the movie “The King’s Speech” which depicted the efforts of Charles’ grandfather, King George VI, to overcome similar speech problems.

Charles and the President also faced intense scrutiny over their complex relationships with their two younger sons. Biden’s opponents took advantage of Hunter Biden’s plea bargain for two misdemeanor tax offenses to attack the president. The royal’s relationship with Prince Harry has been in the spotlight since Harry and his wife Meghan withdrew from their royal duties in 2020.

While members of the royal family are expected to steer clear of politics, the monarch’s political views have occasionally gotten him into trouble. After Charles attended the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, a London newspaper published excerpts from a diary in which the king wrote about Chinese soldiers dressed in goose down and described the Chinese officials at the ceremony as “awful waxworks”.

But the two men are also different in important ways.

The Chief is talkative and extroverted, while the King is more reflective and reserved. In his younger days, Charles was awkward and shy, and seemed unsuited to life in public. After decades of touring royals and taking lines, he’s adept at the art of small talk, though he’s not as instinctively happy as Mr. Biden.

Charles’ intellectual pursuits can sometimes seem offbeat. An avid and self-absorbed reader, Charles dabbled in topics such as architecture, organic farming, and environmental conservation. He once proudly revealed that his Aston Martin sports car ran Biofuel made from excess white wine and cheese waste.

In contrast, Mr. Biden owns a 1967 gas-powered Corvette and often tries to connect with the working class by reminiscing about his days traveling to Washington on Amtrak.

The monarch is expected to adhere to traditions of the British monarchy that Mr. Biden has refused to follow on numerous occasions. Biden has twice refused to bow to the king’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on his mother’s advice. She told him, according to his memoirs, “Don’t bow down to her.” (there Without conditions that one must bow to the king—although many people follow tradition as a matter of courtesy.)

During Mr. Biden’s four visits to the UK since becoming president, there has often been a subtle tension.

In March, Mr. Biden made a brief stop in Northern Ireland to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement before going to the Republic of Ireland for a more leisurely tour of his ancestral roots. (As London newspapers grumbled, Mr. Biden also has English roots.)

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Mr. Biden did not attend Charles’ coronation in May, sending his wife Jill and their granddaughter Finnegan. When he calls the king to send his condolences and congratulations, Charles invites the president to visit Britain, setting the stage for a meeting on Monday that American officials dub a “mini-state visit.”

Even the logistics of this trip weren’t without some crunch. The White House initially questioned the need to stop at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, according to an official familiar with the planning, as the two men will meet at a NATO summit in Lithuania a day later. But for Sunak, shaking hands with the president in front of his residence is politically valuable, and the White House eventually agreed. About 45 minutes into the meeting at 10 Downing on Monday, Mr. Biden

The White House also heeded the king’s request to welcome Mr. Biden to Windsor Castle, west of London, rather than the more appropriate Buckingham Palace. The mansion has been undergoing a renovation for several years, and the official told the New York Times that the king does not want Biden to see a construction site.

In response to a question about Biden skipping the coronation, Karen Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, rejected any idea that there was tension between the United States and Britain. (Historians point out that Dwight D. Eisenhower did not attend Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.)

“It is important for the president to go out there and meet not only the king, but also the prime minister,” said Ms. Jean-Pierre. “This is what you will see: continuing partnership with the UK.”

Those who have watched the relationship between the White House and the royal family said that common ground between Charles and Mr. Biden likely warranted a friendly encounter.

“They’ve both been to these rodeos so many times,” said Mrs. Biddle-Smith.