LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II will visit the Group of Seven summit in southwest England on Friday, adding some star power to a diplomatic charm offensive as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the “indestructible relationship “between Great Britain and the United States.
While there had always been a royal presence atop the G-7 in the small Cornish seaside town of Carbis Bay, the arrival of the Queen comes as a surprise.
She will join the leaders of the G-7 countries – the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy – for dinner as they seek to overcome tensions who harm the event and present a united front in their attempt to rejuvenate the besieged West.
Leaders are expected to discuss plans to donate hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines to the poorest countries, climate change and setting a global minimum corporate tax of 15%.
The White House has also made it clear that it sees the trip as a chance to rally allies to the cause of liberal democracy against what Biden sees as the authoritarian threat from Russia and China.
The unexpected presence of the Queen, 95, means she will join Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, for the leaders reception at the Eden Project, a tropical garden built under a cluster of vast bio-domes.
Charles, the heir to the throne and climate activist, will host a reception for prominent leaders and CEOs “to discuss how the private sector can work with governments to tackle the climate emergency,” Buckingham said Palace in a press release.
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The Duchess of Cambridge also met Jill Biden on Friday for a trip to a local school.
When asked if she has any wishes for her new niece Lilibet Diana, Kate replied that she wished her “all the best”.
“I can’t wait to meet her,” she added. “We haven’t met her yet. I hope it will be soon.”
When asked if she had met Harry and Meghan’s daughter since she was born last week, Kate said no.
The arrival of prominent royals represents the most powerful weapon of soft power Britain has to offer, even as the royal brand has been in the throes of a family crisis.
The country is hosting this international spectacle as it attempts to redefine its international role after an acrimonious departure from the European Union last year.
The Queen is the longest-serving British monarch and has met every sitting US President since Harry Truman except Lyndon Johnson.
The first lady will also travel with the President to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen on Sunday after the summit, as previously announced.
Biden will be the 13th American leader she will host, spanning decades of what has historically been called the “special relationship” between Washington and London.
This week it was revealed that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not like the phrase, an aide reportedly said he felt it sounded in need.
Instead, Johnson on Friday described the Anglo-American bond as an “indestructible relationship.”
“It is a relationship which has lasted a very long time and which has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and in the world,” he told the BBC, also calling it “deep and meaningful relationship”.
The president has repeatedly used the term “special relationship” despite his counterpart’s disgust for it.
“We affirmed the special relationship – this is not said lightly – the special relationship between our peoples,” he said on Thursday after a meeting that the two sides hailed as a success. .
Johnson described working with Biden as “a big breath of fresh air”.
But the summit was far from tension-free.
Even before landing on British soil, the Biden administration sternly warned Johnson not to let Brexit threaten the peace in Northern Ireland.
Tensions have mounted in the province as, in the eyes of some, Brexit has weakened its ties with the UK and risked bringing it closer to the orbit of the Republic of Ireland, a separate country to the south.
This risks rekindling decades of conflict between predominantly Catholic “nationalists” – who want Northern Ireland to reunite with the Republic of Ireland – and predominantly Protestant “unionists” – who want the region to remain part of the country. UK
Biden, who has Irish heritage, warned that the United States wanted to see no threat to the Good Friday Agreement, a landmark 1998 peace deal negotiated in part by the United States.
French President Emmanuel Macron also rebuked on Thursday evening British attempts to renegotiate aspects of Brexit covering Northern Ireland. UK attempts in this direction have become a major sticking point with the EU
“Nothing is renegotiable,” Macron said at a press conference.
Andrea Mitchell contributed.