President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrived Monday to pay their final respects to late UK monarch Queen Elizabeth II — after getting stuck en route in standstill traffic.
The presidential limousine, nicknamed “The Beast,” pulled up in front of the 13th-century Westminster Abbey, and the 79-year-old president and his 71-year-old wife exited and headed towards the entrance.
The armored limousine had earlier come to a grinding halt outside a coffee shop in central London.
The first lady wore a black knee-length skirt, which she paired with a blazer, and accessorized her look with a matching fascinator. Biden wore a classic black suit.
The president and Dr. Biden entered the funeral service venue holding hands and were conveyed to their seats 14 rows back on the south transept. The commander-in-chief was seated behind Polish President Andrzej Duda and in front of the Czech Republic’s leader.
Meanwhile, the first lady settled next to Switzerland’s representative.
They were among hundreds of world leaders and dignitaries due to completely fill Westminster Abbey for the funeral of the longest-serving monarch, who died Sept. 8 at the age of 96.
Despite the long-cherished special relationship between the two nations, the UK’s official invitation to the US “was for the president and the first lady only,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
That left no room for the Bidens to extend an invitation to any of the previous presidents, all of whom met the queen while they were in office.
The president and first lady arrived in London on Saturday, paying their respects the next day by stopping by Westminister Hall, skipping lines that lasted up to 24 hours for people wanting to see the queen’s coffin.
Biden made the sign of the cross when he arrived and placed his hand on his heart while paying his respects. Both also signed the official condolence book for the queen in Lancaster House Sunday.
He later said that the queen had stood out from the ” awful lot of consequential people” he had met, saying, “She was the same in person as her image. Decent, honorable and all about service.”
The Bidens’ appearance heightened security concerns for what is likely to be one of the biggest ever gatherings of world leaders and royalty on British soil.
Their invite reportedly also sparked anger among other dignitaries forced to park and ride a bus to the service — while Biden was granted permission to use his armored Cadillac, known as “the Beast.”
The Queen’s state funeral is set to start at 11 a.m. local time — 6 a.m. ET — at Westminster Abbey, where she married Prince Philip in 1947 and had her official coronation in 1953.
Near the end of the hour-long service, conducted by Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, a two-minute silence will be observed across the UK.
The National Anthem will bring the funeral to a close at noon in the UK, which is 7 a.m. in New York.
From there, her coffin will be taken on one last tour of London, getting gunfire salutes as it is driven in the state hearse to Windsor for a committal service at St. George’s Chapel near Windsor Castle.
Members of the royal family will then hold a private burial service at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, where the queen will be interred.
The remains of her late husband, Philip, will then be moved to lie alongside his wife of 73 years.
The Duke of Edinburgh was privately interred in the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel after his death on April 9, 2021. He was 99.
Biden earlier spoke to the new King Charles III and “conveyed his wish to continue a close relationship with the King,” the White House said.
He also “recalled fondly the Queen’s kindness and hospitality,” and “conveyed the great admiration of the American people for the Queen, whose dignity and constancy deepened the enduring friendship and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” the White House said last Wednesday.