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ST. IVES, England — President Joe Biden built his political brand on being part of a working class family from a former coal town in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, Joe from Scranton meets with the queen.
Biden — alongside his wife, first lady Jill Biden, a community college teacher — will have tea at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch who has reigned for more than 60 years, before he departs the United Kingdom.
It's a presidential rite of passage. Queen Elizabeth, 95, has met every American president since World War II, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson. Biden is the first in two decades, though, to come from what he's described as hardscrabble roots.
"It's a mighty long ride from being Scranton Joe the Amtrak commuter to dining... with Queen Elizabeth but they'll get along fabulously," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. "The wonderful thing about Biden is that he is comfortable with himself in any setting."
Brinkley said Biden will go out of his way to follow the correct protocols and manners. "Protocol is our current president's modus operandi," he said.
Biden and the queen have met at least once before, back in 1982, when he was serving as a Democratic senator from Delaware, the state his family moved to when he was 10.
The visit on Sunday — which is expected to include an arrival ceremony with a review of troops and the playing of the two countries' national anthems — comes three days after what would have been the queen's late husband's 100th birthday. Prince Philip, the duke of Edinburgh, died two months ago at the age of 99. It will mark the queen's first in-person meeting with a head of state since his death.
But in the U.K., the media has focused more on Biden's Irish Roman Catholic heritage than on the queen's lingering grief or the president's more modest beginnings. There has been speculation that Biden's faith might impact relations with the queen given that Brexit, which Biden opposed, could jeopardize the peace process in Northern Ireland.
"This is more a foreign policy moment than a class moment; as with so much else in the Biden presidency, it might have been different even 20 years ago, but the Irishness has been muted by the burdens of being president in 2021," a Biden adviser said. "He will doubtless console her on the loss of Philip, but the real question for Elizabeth's nation is how to deal with the same kind of forces we are facing — Brexit in their case, Trumpism in ours."
Biden has experienced grief in his own life, suffering two losses decades apart. His first wife and baby daughter died in a ...