LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II will travel to the Group of Seven Summit in southwest England on Friday and add some star power to a diplomatic charm offensive as Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the “indestructible relationship” between Britain and the United States.
While there should always be a royal presence at the G-7 summit in the tiny seaside town of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, the arrival of the Queen comes as a surprise.
She will join the G-7 leaders – US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy – for dinner to break down any tensions undermining the event and have a united front within theirs Strive to rejuvenate the beleaguered west.
The leaders will discuss plans to donate hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries, set climate change and a minimum global corporate tax of 15 percent.
The White House has also made it clear that it sees the trip as an opportunity to rally allies for the cause of liberal democracy against the authoritarian threat from Russia and China that Biden sees.
The unexpected presence of the Queen, 95, means that she will attend with Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, for the heads of state reception at the Eden Project, a tropical garden built under a collection of giant bio-domes.
Charles, heir to the throne and climate activist, will host a reception for the leaders and prominent CEOs “to discuss how the private sector can work with governments to address the climate emergency,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
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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 had any wishes for her new niece Lilibet Diana, Kate said she wished her “all the best”.
“I can’t wait to meet her,” she added. “We haven’t met her yet. I hope that will be soon. “
When asked if she’s had facetime with Harry and Meghan’s daughter since they were born last week, Kate said she hadn’t.
The arrival of high-ranking royals marks the most powerful soft-power weapon Britain has to offer, even as a family crisis has ravaged the royal brand.
The country is hosting this international spectacle at a time when it is trying to redefine its international role following its bitter exit from the European Union last year.
The Queen is Britain’s longest-ruling monarch and has met every incumbent US president since Harry Truman, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson.
The First Lady will also travel to Windsor Castle with the President to meet the Queen on the Sunday after the summit, as previously announced.
Biden will be the 13th US leader whom she welcomes and ignores decades of what has been called the “special relationship” between Washington and London.
It became known this week that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not like this phrase. A counselor reportedly said he felt he sounded needy.
Instead, Johnson called the Anglo-American bond an “indestructible relationship” on Friday.
“It’s a relationship that has lasted a very long time and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world,” he told the BBC, also calling it a “deep and meaningful relationship”.
Despite the dislike of his counterpart, the President has repeatedly used the expression “special relationship”.
“We have confirmed the special relationship – this is not said lightly – the special relationship between our people,” he said on Thursday after a meeting that was praised as a success by both sides.
Johnson described working with Biden as “a breath of fresh air”.
But the summit was anything but tension-free.
Even before landing on British soil, the Biden administration gave Johnson an urgent warning not to allow Brexit to jeopardize peace in Northern Ireland.
Tensions in the province have risen as Brexit has weakened ties with Britain in the eyes of some and risked dragging it closer to orbit the Republic of Ireland, a separate country to the south.
That risks decades of conflict between mostly Catholic “nationalists” – who want Northern Ireland to reunite with the Irish Republic – and mostly Protestant “unionists” – who want the area to remain part of the UK
Biden, who is of Irish roots, has warned that the US does not want to see any threat to the Good Friday Agreement, a landmark 1998 peace deal partly brokered by the US
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening also reprimanded Britain’s attempts to renegotiate aspects of Brexit in relation to Northern Ireland. The UK’s attempts to do this have become a major friction point with the EU
“Nothing is renegotiable,” Macron said at a press conference.
Andrea Mitchell contributed.