President Biden Is Skipping King Charles’ Coronation. Good.
Then Prince Charles with President Joe Biden at the Cop26 summit in 2021.Jane Barlow/AP
Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.The coronation next month of Kaiser Wilhelm’s and Tsar Nicholas II’s distant cousin, Charles Philip Arthur George, as King of England is a big event, but it is not such a big event that people are afraid to turn it down.
As my colleague Inae Oh noted in February, “Some of the United Kingdom’s biggest stars, including Adele, Harry Styles, Elton John, the Spice Girls, and Ed Sheeran have all reportedly declined invitations to perform at Charles’ big day.” To that list of thanks-but-no-thanks and oh-I-wish-I-could and I’ve-got-to-see-a-man-about-a-dog, you can add a new luminary: President Joe Biden.
Per The Telegraph:
The US president is ‘not expected’ to join dozens of heads of state for the event on May 6, according to sources close to the discussions, and will send a delegation in his place.
America is keen to counter any perception of a snub and show support for the King by sending high-profile representatives, with one possibility under consideration being that Jill Biden, the first lady, could attend.
That’s unfortunate—not because I wish Biden could make an appearance, but because I wish he would make clear that this is a snub.
As modern royals go, Charles is just about replacement level—he is not particularly evil (like his brother), but not particularly savvy either. Last year, shortly before he became king, Charles imposed a new policy against accepting suitcases full of cash, after the Sunday Times reported that a Qatari royal had given the heir-to-the-throne €3 million in charitable donations. There’s nothing wrong with charity, and when they aren’t pining for the preservation of fox hunts, the royals sometimes attach themselves to noble causes. But in the larger context, the royal family itself is a centuries-long charity, collecting handouts from the citizenry while shielding its own vast wealth from everyone else. As the New York Times reported last year:
As king, Charles will take over his mother’s portfolio and inherit a share of this untold personal fortune. While British citizens normally pay around 40 percent inheritance tax, King Charles gets this tax free. And he will pass control of his duchy to his elder son, William, to develop further without having to pay corporate taxes.
That breakdown of his money, and the methods he uses to grow it, is instructive: The royal family is a fairly conventional bunch of plutocrats, who receive special powers today for the very noble and unassailable reason that their blood relatives also received special powers. They are the antithesis of the story Joe Biden tells about his own family (not the least of which because Catholics are not allowed to be king).
There’s no reason for the president to burn any unnecessary bridges here, and I’m sure he’ll pick out something nice from the registry. But surely the tree-whispering new king can understand: It’s just not worth the carbon to fly to London and not see Adele.