WINDSOR, England – President Joe Biden and King Charles III convened for their first meeting at Windsor Castle, shedding light on the pressing issue of climate change and urging private companies to enhance their efforts in promoting clean energy in developing nations. The encounter, meticulously orchestrated, demonstrated the significance of this momentous occasion, emphasizing substance rather than mere pomp and circumstance. Biden and Charles actively participated in a climate-focused roundtable, engaging with officials from the financial and philanthropic sectors. The event was also attended by John Kerry, the U.S. envoy on climate.
King Charles III’s Commitment to Climate Change As a monarch who has already made the environment a cornerstone of his policy legacy, the 74-year-old Charles has been dedicated to safeguarding wildlife and combating climate change for many years. Biden, on the other hand, identified climate change as one of the four critical crises he aimed to address during his presidency. In fact, he signed a comprehensive legislative package last year that allocates nearly $375 billion to climate-related incentives.
It is worth noting that the last formal discussions between Biden and Charles, then prince, took place at the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. Biden also attended the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Charles’s mother, in September, as well as a reception for heads of state at Buckingham Palace the evening before the service. However, Biden did not attend Charles’s coronation and instead sent first lady Jill Biden as his representative.
Acknowledging Charles’s Climate Advocacy Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, expressed President Biden’s deep respect for Charles’s unwavering commitment to addressing climate change. Sullivan referred to Charles as a “clarion voice” on climate issues and praised his ability to mobilize action and foster collective effort. Ahead of the meeting, Sullivan stated that the president approached the encounter with enormous goodwill.
During their arrival at Windsor Castle, Biden and Charles showcased their growing camaraderie and warmth. They greeted each other with a handshake, and Biden placed his hand on Charles’s arm and back as they made their way to a viewing platform to inspect an honor guard. Their interactions appeared relaxed and cordial, setting them apart from the more formal encounters between previous U.S. presidents and British royalty.
Shared Commitment to Ukraine In addition to meeting with King Charles, President Biden had his sixth meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Their discussions encompassed a range of global issues, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Both the United States and the United Kingdom staunchly support Kyiv, and the UK has urged the White House to take stronger measures in providing military aid to Ukraine.
The purpose of these talks was to underscore the enduring “special relationship” between the two nations. Although Biden declined to attend Charles’s coronation, he assured the king during a phone call that he would visit soon.
Before arriving at Windsor Castle, Biden held a meeting with Sunak at the prime minister’s residence in London. Their conversation addressed Ukraine and other matters, including Biden’s recent decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions, a weapon that has been banned by more than two-thirds of NATO members due to the potential threat it poses to civilian lives.
Biden acknowledged that providing cluster munitions was a difficult decision but emphasized the urgent need to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian forces. Sunak, however, distanced himself from this decision, affirming Britain’s opposition to the use of cluster munitions. He reiterated the UK’s commitment to discourage their production and use in adherence to the convention on cluster munitions.
Strengthening Bilateral Ties Despite the disagreement over cluster munitions, Sullivan downplayed the issue and emphasized the strategic alignment between Prime Minister Sunak and President Biden on Ukraine. The two leaders demonstrated unity during their tea meeting at 10 Downing Street’s garden, where they humorously referred to their monthly meetings as an ongoing tradition. Biden confidently stated that the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom remains rock solid, while Sunak emphasized their countries’ unwavering alliance.
This meeting also provided an opportunity to review the progress made under the Atlantic Declaration, signed by both leaders during Sunak’s visit to the White House the previous month. The declaration includes negotiations on an agreement concerning critical minerals to support joint U.S. and U.K. leadership in green technology.
In conclusion, President Joe Biden and King Charles III’s meeting at Windsor Castle marked a significant step in addressing climate change and strengthening bilateral relations between the United States and the United Kingdom. With both leaders actively engaged in climate advocacy, their commitment to combatting environmental challenges is commendable. Moreover, their discussions on global issues, such as the conflict in Ukraine, further demonstrated the bond between the two nations. As they continue to work together, the world can expect increased cooperation in addressing pressing global challenges and fostering a sustainable future.