Joe Biden too old to travel for Coronation, say insiders

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Joe Biden is too old to travel across the Atlantic twice in a month to visit the UK for the King’s Coronation, it has been claimed.

The Telegraph understands that the US president will reject Buckingham Palace’s invitation to the event on May 6.

Sources have pointed out he is scheduled to visit Northern Ireland for an event later this month, but those close to the President, 80, are also keen to restrict his international movements to avoid him becoming too tired to perform his domestic duties.

Mr Biden is shortly expected to announce his intention to stand again in the 2024 presidential race and is also travelling to the G7 summit in Japan next month.

A source close to discussions on his attendance of the Coronation said: “The guy is 80. They space out his big bursts of activity quite considerably.

“They did that too with Trump, and he was younger. When Biden does something like the State of the Union address, we didn’t see much from him in the following 48 hours. They don't like to push him around the world too much.”

Officials in both London and Washington stressed Mr Biden has not yet formally decided whether to attend the Coronation and said it should not be interpreted as a snub to the British monarchy if he decides to remain in the United States.

Mr Biden is the oldest person to hold the office of president, and was eight years older than Donald Trump, the second-oldest, at the time of their inaugurations.

If he decides to run again in the next presidential election and serves a full term, he will be 86 by the time he leaves office in 2028.

Sources close to the Coronation discussions on both sides of the Atlantic pointed out that there was precedent for US presidents not attending coronations, and that Mr Biden did attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September.

At the service in Westminster Abbey, the seating plan caused some controversy after the US president was seated behind European heads of state, including the Polish president.

Eisenhower was no-show

President Eisenhower, who was in office at the time of the late Queen’s coronation in 1953, sent a delegation of government officials to take his place at the service, and it has been suggested that Mr Biden may choose to send his wife, Jill, to the coronation in his place.

Historically, states would send a more junior member of their royal family to attend a coronation as a mark of respect to the seniority of the monarch being crowned.

Mr Biden is expected to meet Rishi Sunak on at least three occasions in the next three months, including during his visit to Northern Ireland and at the G7.

The president’s age has become a major topic of discussion in Washington ahead of his expected decision to run again in 2024.

On Thursday, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House speaker, appeared to joke about Mr Biden's age while telling lawmakers in his party that he hoped to negotiate with the president on the US debt ceiling.

“I would bring lunch to the White House. I would make it soft food, if that’s what he wants,” Mr McCarthy said in a news conference.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s press secretary, later responded that Mr Biden is “able to pick out his own Starbucks…I’ll say that”.

The White House has repeatedly declined to confirm the 80-year-old president's attendance at the Coronation but strongly has rejected claims that concerns over his age would be a factor in his travel plans.

One staffer pointed to the president's recent busy travel schedule, including being on the road for multiple events in the last week.

Mr Biden's age is known to be a sensitive topic in the West Wing, although those staff tasked with handling his schedule generally try to avoid extended travel wherever possible.

The president has also participated in far fewer extended press conferences with the White House press corps as well as the traditional media interviews than his most recent predecessors.