Jill Biden will become the first US first lady to attend the coronation of a British monarch on Saturday, though 70 years ago one of her predecessors was on hand to help document the occasion.

As a 23-year-old freelance journalist, Jacqueline Bouvier described the scene in London when the young Queen Elizabeth II was to be crowned.

“Londoners seem awed by the hordes of Americans here for the colorful event,” she wrote for the Washington Times-Herald in 1953. Months later, she would become engaged to Senator John F. Kennedy. And in 1961 she would meet the queen at a gala dinner for her husband at Buckingham Palace.

Kennedy never made it into Westminster Abbey for the historic ceremony. But Jill Biden will be present on Saturday along with her 22-year-old granddaughter, Finnegan, when King Charles III is formally crowned.

“The first lady is honored to represent the United States at this historic moment and celebrate the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” said Vanessa Valdivia, her press secretary. «Your assistance from her reinforces our strong and enduring ties with one of our closest allies.»

Despite the first lady’s busy schedule ahead of her departure for London on Thursday, her office has been working closely with the national security team, the State Department, Downing Street and the Royal Office of Protocol to coordinate the details.

Charles has asked that guests not bring gifts, said a source familiar with the first lady’s travel plans. And in preparation for the visit, «the first lady thought it was important to wear an American designer for the coronation,» the source added.

President Joe Biden called Charles last month to inform him of his wife’s plans to attend the coronation in his place. To many across the pond, especially in the British press, his decision not to attend is seen as a slight.

«Not at all,» a White House spokesman replied in a message. «The President has a good relationship with the King, having called the King last month to congratulate him on his coronation, and looks forward to meeting him in the UK for a visit at a future date.»

White House officials regularly point out that no US president has ever attended a coronation in the UK, though the talking point sidesteps the fact that transatlantic travel was limited to weeks-long transatlantic voyages until the coronation. of Isabel, in the first years of the transatlantic. air travel.

«Unfortunately, the president cannot attend the coronation, but he expects the First Lady to represent the United States,» the White House spokesman added.

Jill Biden met Charles, then still the long-time heir to the throne, in June 2021, along with his wife, Camilla, who joined her husband at a reception for visiting heads of government during the Group of Seven in Cornwall, England.

Biden met alone with Charles later that year at the UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland, outlining one of the policy issues on which the two men find common ground.

Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the US, noted that Charles met 10 presidents and visited the country «at least» 20 times.

“They know each other well and the president has kindly told me how much he looks forward to working with the king and the prime minister,” Pierce said on the show. White House Historical Association podcast.

While Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, met with 13 sitting presidents, Charles also has a long history with commanders-in-chief.

She was just 10 years old when she met her first, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his visit to the Queen and her family at Balmoral Castle in 1959.

Le Président Eisenhower Et La Famille Royale Britannique A Balmoral BALMORAL, ROYAUME-UNI - 29 AOUT: Le Président américain Dwight Eisenhower (gauche) et son fils le Major John Eisenhower sur la pelouse du chateau de Balmoral avec la Reine Elizabeth et ses enfants le Prince Charles et la Princesse Anne on August 29, 1959 in Balmoral, Royaume-Uni.  (Photo by Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, center left, and his son Major John Eisenhower, second right, in the garden of Balmoral Castle in Scotland with Queen Elizabeth II and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne, on August 29, 1959.Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images archive

At the age of 20, she traveled to the United States with her sister, Princess Anne, to meet with President Richard Nixon and his family. The future king was then considered one of the most sought-after bachelors in the world, and he would later recall: «That was the time they were trying to marry me to Tricia Nixon,» according to The Associated Press.

However, Nixon saw a very serious side to the visit. “I think this could do U.S.-British relations a lot of good,” he wrote in a memo, according to AP.

Charles then returned to the US in 1985, accompanied by his then-wife Princess Diana, to visit President Ronald Reagan.

And President George W. Bush invited Charles and Camilla, now the queen consort, to a state dinner just months after their 2005 wedding.

Most recently, Charles met with Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, always putting his climate agenda front and center.

President Barack Obama meets with Britain's Prince Charles Thursday, March 19, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
Britain’s Prince Charles meets with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in 2015.File Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Anita McBride, who was first lady Laura Bush’s chief of staff, noted that Biden’s decision to have his wife represent the nation on this important royal occasion has historical precedent: First lady Nancy Reagan attended Charles’s wedding with Diana in 1981.

“This also underscores the close relationship the Bidens have with each other,” McBride said. “They are partners in everything he has done in his public life. And this is an example for the world. … I think it’s the perfect choice.”

The first stop on Jill Biden’s trip to London will be a meeting on Friday with Akshata Murty, the wife of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. She will also meet with military veterans and their families before traveling to a school that will be one of many hosting coronation fairs as part of the long weekend of national celebrations.

She will attend a reception hosted by Charles on the eve of his coronation. On Sunday, she will once again join Sunak and his wife for what they call a «Great Coronation Luncheon.»

McBride said the meetings allow the first lady to «bring greetings on behalf of the president, bring greetings on behalf of the country and then return any message you want to share with her.»

«This is one of the things that [I] I learned in all my travels with the first lady in the years I was there: There was no person closer to the president than the president’s wife. No adviser, no other government official really comes close to it,” she said. “Whatever you share with them, without a doubt, will go directly to the president.”