Spot the difference: How Joe Biden has swept away the signs of Donald Trump from the Oval Office

Marcus Parekh
·3-min read
trump vs biden oval office white house decor
trump vs biden oval office white house decor
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There is a new broom in the White House, and Joe Biden has wasted no time at all in sweeping away many of the signs that Donald Trump was ever there. First he signed a clutch of executive orders to reverse many of his predecessor's decisions, then he turned his eye to the Oval Office.

Out went the artwork depicting America’s populist leaders and the military insignia that Mr Trump brought with him in 2016. In came the busts of civil rights activists and nods to the importance of unity and science.

Perhaps the most striking alteration was the removal of the bust of Winston Churchill. Originally loaned to George W Bush by Tony Blair in 2001, it was removed by Barack Obama in 2009, a move the then-London mayor Boris Johnson called a “snub to Britain”.

When Donald Trump came to power in 2017, he reinstated the Churchill bust to the Oval Office, proudly showing it off to Theresa May on her visit. In its place now, on the orders of Mr Biden, sits the bust of Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

Prime Minister Theresa May meeting US President Donald Trump by a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the Oval Office - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Prime Minister Theresa May meeting US President Donald Trump by a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the Oval Office - Stefan Rousseau/PA
A bust of Rev Martin Luther King in the Oval Office - Alex Brandon/AP
A bust of Rev Martin Luther King in the Oval Office - Alex Brandon/AP

The new home for the iconic civil rights leader, who has been a fixture of the Oval Office since 2009, is part of a wider overhaul of the Office to reflect the need for greater racial equality.

Mr Biden has also included busts of Rosa Parks, Robert F Kennedy and Cesar Chavez, a workers’ rights leader who staunchly fought for Latino-Americans.

Donald Trump filled the Oval Office with statues and paintings of Andrew Jackson, America’s first populist president, and flags of various branches of the American military.

Mr Biden has stripped away all signs of Mr Jackson, removing his portrait. Mr Biden has also changed the art that hangs opposite the desk, placing a large portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt, the architect of grand social programmes that dug the US out of the Great Depression.

The Roosevelt portrait is flanked by four others, including rivals Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. The paintings are hung next to each other and appear to symbolise the value of dissenting opinions.

Mr Biden has replaced Mr Trump’s old military flags too, opting instead for one of the presidential seal and one of the national flag.

One piece that remains is the Resolute desk. Despite having a choice of six desks, the 46th President has chosen to keep the same one as his two immediate predecessors. It was built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute.

The Resolute desk in the Oval Office - Alex Brandon/AP
The Resolute desk in the Oval Office - Alex Brandon/AP

On the desk itself Mr Biden has made some minor adjustments. In the pictures there were a cup and saucer set, as well as a box of pens to sign documents. Mr Trump had a button with which he summoned an aide and was pictured with a can of Diet Coke and a thick black marker with his golden signature printed on the barrel.

Trust in science is another theme Mr Biden has sought to emphasise. A portrait of Benjamin Franklin is supported by a piece of moon rock from the Apollo missions.

As for the soft furnishings, Mr Biden has replaced his predecessor’s golden drapes with a slightly darker pair from the Clinton era. Meanwhile, the Bush-era cream rug with garland edging is gone in favour of a deep blue with a presidential seal in the middle.

Read more: What the changing interior decor at the White House says about its occupants