Biden has insisted at almost every turn that people address him by his first name. He means – people actually call him or, sometimes, “Dr. B.” Familiar accessibility is part of the Biden narrative, and an aspect of her personality in which she works hard.
“Put her in a palace with the queen, or wherever you want, she’s ‘Phil to Jill,'” says a longtime acquaintance of Biden, when asked if the first lady was the most formal of one. Can maintain its contingency in the presence of fine people in the world. Internally, it’s fine to embrace her home roots, but externally, meeting Queen Elizabeth II involves a cursing, speaking only when talking, and making sure the royal is always leading the encounter, Whether she is sitting or standing or walking – the guest does so only after Her Majesty.
A State Department official who worked in the Office of Protocol during the previous administration noted that the Palace’s instructions regarding visiting world leaders are “draconian”. The State Department will send memos to East Wing staff in advance, detailing the details of each person who has come into contact with the First Lady, what their role is and how to address them, along with the specifics of the visit from the Palace. Said person.
and, in a pinch, to brief heads of protocol before meetings, to answer any questions during the visit, and to help with the procurement, research, and investigation of any gifts exchanged between leaders. ready to do. (When Obama first met the Queen in 2009, he gave her an iPod full of videos and photos from her 2007 trip to Virginia.)
The current Acting Chief of Protocol, Ansel Roberts, is part of a team traveling with the President and First Lady in England this week.
Avoiding the pitfalls of protocol
Of course, all this preparation is for “just in case”.
While the choreography and tick-tock accuracy of A Journey with an Emperor is nothing new, it is expected and by most accounts appreciated. What matters is how each first lady adopts the protocol that can determine their success.
“I think Dr. Biden is seeking to be far more accessible and relatable than most of his predecessors, with the exception of Michelle Obama, who had a similar approach,” says historian Kate Anderson Brown, author of “First Woman: The The author of “Grace and Power” made Biden’s first foreign trip as First Lady, “America’s Modern First Ladies”.
“She’s not a royal First Lady like Nancy Reagan—who was so involved in her husband’s administration that she helped organize President Reagan’s first meeting in Geneva.” [former Russian leader Mikhail] Gorbachev. I didn’t expect Dr. Biden to do something like this.”
Biden’s schedule does not include him with the president for his two stops after England, first in Brussels, Belgium, for NATO meetings, and then in Geneva, Switzerland, for what is expected to be a controversial meeting with Vladimir Putin. Chances are.
“Dr. Biden will bring a softer message. She’s resetting the American image abroad as much as the president does,” says Brown. “I think she’ll stay away from politics.”
flexing his freedom
Biden may stay away from the tough issues facing her husband on this European trip, but she is taking the time to support her own agenda. A White House official told CNN that the First Lady “will attend a number of important events independent of the president.”
Although Biden’s schedule includes time with the leader spouses for planned G7 activities – a common occurrence at such summits – it also makes time for at least three separate, single events, two of which Including Promoting Joining Forces, his initiative that helps military families.
On Saturday, Biden will meet with members of Budd Surf Veterans, a local volunteer group that helps British military veterans with physical or mental health injuries through surfing. According to the East Wing’s guidance, “she will host discussions with veterans and their families about the impact of the program and their health and well-being.”
The program is partly funded by the Invictus Games Foundation, a wounded warrior charity founded by Prince Harry, with whom Biden shares a close, personal friendship. They met in 2012 during an event for wounded warriors at the residence of the British ambassador in Washington, when Biden was the second woman. The two kept in touch and over the years, Biden has been a proponent of Prince Harry’s cause, attending several Invictus Games events. (In 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden joked about being jealous of his wife’s friendship with the young royal, saying, “Jill went to London for the last games. She spent too much time with Prince Harry!”)
Finally, on Sunday, after the Queen, Biden has another solo outing, it was confirmed by his office, to meet with British veterans who participated in the Walk of America, a 2018 campaign for which Biden Acted as a guardian. Led by the Walking for the Wounded group, three veterans from the United States and three from the UK covered 1,000 miles across the US, sharing the stories of fellow service members injured or wounded during their time in the military.
A White House official says that in addition to her primary involvement in Biden’s visit as a “supportive spouse” and “the formal role of First Lady,” she intends to use her platform abroad as she does at home. has been
“There may be some new trappings in this type of overseas travel, but those familiar with Jill Biden’s ritual,” says one of the people familiar with his thinking. During her eight years as Second Lady, Biden made about 20 trips overseas, mostly with her husband, but many with solo purposes.
“She is not naive to the importance of the world audience, she knows the expectations,” says the acquaintance.
“I think the expectations are just that he’s kind and warm,” Brown says. “After this past year and after the trauma of the pandemic, [Biden’s] The job is to remind the world that Americans care about what is happening outside our borders. That’s not arm candy.”
‘It is not about her to take much care of fashion’
As has been the case with such visits in the past, dating from Jacqueline Kennedy up to Melania Trump, there will no doubt be a change in how or what Biden might be wearing.
“The curse of the East Wing,” says a former East Wing employee from the previous administration, “is knowing whether we want it or not, there will be headlines about his clothing.” Fashion’s double-edged sword is that it can be a catalyst for the first lady “moment,” but it can also distract from the serious work she brings to the table.
That’s not to say that Biden, who often wears the looks of Brandon Maxwell, Gabriella Hearst and Oscar de la Renta, doesn’t appreciate a luxury label. On Wednesday, she arrived in England wearing a Ralph Lauren Collection blazer and a Michael Kors Collection white sheath dress, two high-end lines with price tags that hover in the $1,000-$1,500 range per piece.
“I think she’ll go out of her way to show American designers like Michelle Obama often does on her trips,” Brown says. “And I think she won’t wear anything as expensive and unattainable as Melania often wears.”
One of the people familiar with Biden’s mindset says that “it just isn’t enough for him to care too much about fashion.” This person also says that many of the first lady’s most expensive items have personal value. and given as gifts, such as a Valentino tote bag that was customized with portraits of her two German Shepherds, Champ and Major. Biden’s gold “Panther” Cartier watch is also believed to have been received as a personal gift, according to the acquaintance.
“She doesn’t like to talk about her clothes. That’s not because of who she is, but also because of the pandemic and the past four years when the image has become more than substance,” says Brown, however, the first lady. As in, visual cues matter. “While this isn’t Jackie Kennedy in Paris in the spring of 1961, Dr. Biden is clearly someone who enjoys fashion.”
Kennedy, respected for her style, youthfulness and enthusiasm, was, like Jill, a first-name-only First Lady. “Jackie,” as America would come to refer to her, doesn’t necessarily equate to “Jill,” yet each understands the power of her public persona.
“I expect him to be restrained, but still have some fun,” Browder says.