Can the Royal Family save the US-UK special relationship?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Since Joe Biden became President of the US, there has been much speculation over the future of the country's so-called special relationship with the UK.

In a post-Brexit world, the UK is more reliant on securing a trade deal with the US, the details of which the government had been hammering out with the Donald Trump administration.

But Biden may be cautious of Prime Minister Boris Johnson because of his closeness and praise for the former US president. Biden once called Johnson the "physical and emotional clone" of Trump - and he's not a fan of Brexit either.

Sky News diplomatic editor Dominic Waghorn said: "Those who know President Biden well say he is not a vindictive man and is keen to start afresh with allies at the outset of his administration.

"Mr Johnson may have more to worry about with the people around Mr Biden who resent his description of president Barack Obama as part-Kenyan in a newspaper article."

The ongoing coronavirus situation also creates problems. There's unlikely to be the opportunity for a state visit in the coming months, and both leaders will have tackling the pandemic on top of their workloads for a while longer.

Biden will plan to travel to the UK in June when the next G7 summit is set to be held in Cornwall, the perfect opportunity for the leaders to sit down together.

In the meantime, however, could the Royal Family lend a hand in restoring the special relationship? Perhaps soft diplomacy is the key to keeping the relationship ticking over?

Queen's special invitation

According to The Sunday Times, the Queen could invite President Biden to Buckingham Palace ahead of the June summit for the G7.

It would not be Biden's first taste of British diplomacy, having made several visits to the UK while he was Vice President in Barack Obama's years in the White House.

But it would be the first time he has been entertained at the palace.

US President Donald Trump (R) and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) leave the Quadrangle after inspecting a Guard of Honour during a ceremonial welcome at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London, on July 13, 2018 on the second day of Trump's UK visit. - US President Donald Trump on Friday played down his extraordinary attack on Britain's plans for Brexit, praising Prime Minister Theresa May and insisting bilateral relations

The Queen previously hosted US President Donald Trump at Windsor Castle in 2018. (Chris Jackson/AFP)

The G7 event begins in Cornwall on 11 June, the day after a special royal birthday. Prince Philip turns 100 on 10 June.

And on 12 June, Trooping the Colour is scheduled to take place in London, one of the biggest examples of pomp and ceremony in the British royal calendar.

The Times reported an aide said: "There is a desire from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to have a very strong royal presence before G7 events, and all senior members of the royal family will be part of what happens."

Perhaps that's just the thing to sweep Biden off his feet.

Prince Charles's shared climate concerns

One way in which the UK might be able to secure some common ground with the Biden camp is in shared climate concerns – and Prince Charles could play a key role here.

Charles, 72, has campaigned for more than 50 years on issues related to the environment and climate, first speaking out about the dangers of single use plastic in the 1970s.

And for Biden, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement was a vital first step as he began his administration.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19:  United States President Barack Obama, right center, hosts Their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, left center, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, left, with Vice President Joe Biden, right, for a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on March 19, 2015 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

Barack Obama, hosted Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with the Vice President Joe Biden at the White House in 2015. (Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

The prince launched his Terra Carta earlier this year, which has seen him push for businesses to put climate issues at the top of their priority list.

Prince Charles wrote to Biden after he was sworn in as president, something Clarence House said he does for every new president - so nothing to see there.

However, according to The Mirror: "The Prince was hugely encouraged that one of the very first acts the new President undertook was to reinstate the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“The two men share the same indisputable view, that the global climate crisis is the biggest threat to humankind and needs to be dealt with utter urgency."

Correspondent Omid Scobie said of the two men on his royal podcast HeirPod: "They would be a huge force for good, I think, when it comes to campaigning to governments and big businesses alike."

He added: "I could imagine that Charles would definitely benefit from the support of someone like President Biden."

As well as Charles's passion for the environment, Prince William has made climate and the planet a big focus of his royal work, cementing the shared goals of the two groups.

William launched the Earthshot Prize in 2020, a scheme which will award some £50m to initiatives around the world in the next 10 years, which are tackling five of the biggest problems the planet faces.

Prince Harry's support for the military

He might not be a senior royal anymore, but the Duke of Sussex formed a good relationship with Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, when he was.

Harry and the Bidens attended the Invictus Games together when the American couple were in the UK, and Dr Biden travelled to support the 2016 games in Florida. They were also pictured with Harry at the 2017 games.

The Bidens late son Beau was an officer in the US Army, and they have sought to retain good links with military veteran organisations since his death.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30:  Joe Biden, Jill Biden and Prince Harry attend the wheelchair basketball final on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.  The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces.  (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Joe and Jill Biden with Prince Harry at the wheelchair basketball final at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. (Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Harry set up the Invictus Games in 2014 for injured and wounded ex military personnel.

Biden once even joked that his wife had “spent too much damn time with Prince Harry” during the 2016 games.

With Biden's vice president Kamala Harris also a fan of Meghan, there might be an opportunity for the couple to meet the political powers before other members of the royal family.

The new administration may have some sympathy for the couple given the welcome they received when they arrived in the US in March 2020.

Having been living in Canada from November 2019, Harry and Meghan dashed over the border before new restrictions were imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump responded to their arrival by announcing the US would refuse to pay for their security, something the Sussexes had to clarify they had not asked for, nor did they expect.

Watch: President Biden launches climate change efforts