For President Joe Biden, it was crumpets. It was tea for his wife, First Lady Jill Biden.
Joe and Jill Biden helped honor Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday by sharing memories of their tea time last year when she invited them to join her at Windsor Castle near London.
The president, who said Elizabeth remembered her late mother after a 2021 visit, recalled that she used to give him crumpets on Sunday. He did not refuse.
“I ate everything she put in front of me,” he said. “But she was the same in person … her image: dignified, dignified and about service.”
Britain’s longest-serving queen died earlier this month after a 70-year reign. Biden was among hundreds of heads of state and other dignitaries in London to attend his state funeral service Monday at Westminster Abbey.
The first lady told The Associated Press in a telephone interview after she and the president attended a reception at Buckingham Palace that “really impressed me” about the queen was “how warm and gracious she was.”
“I loved her sense of curiosity. She wanted to know everything about American politics, and so she asked Joe question after question,” Jill Biden said. Sitting in Elizabeth’s living room was “like being with your grandmother,” she said.
“And she said, ‘Let me pour the tea,’ and we said, ‘No, no, let’s help,’ and she said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, I’ll get this. You sit down,'” Jill Biden said. “And it’s a very special moment with a very special woman.”
The Bidens paid their respects to the Queen on Sunday, traveling to Westminster Hall where she lies in state, having waited for hours in front of thousands of mourners to stand in front of the monarch’s coffin.
He signed books of condolence at Lancaster House before heading to Buckingham Palace for a reception hosted by King Charles III and other royals for world leaders who flew in for the funeral.
After signing the book, Biden said his heart goes out to the royal family because the Queen’s death has left it with a “giant hole”.
“Sometimes you never think, you never get over it,” said Biden, speaking personally of the loss that followed the deaths of his first wife and an infant daughter and then an adult son. “But as I told the king, she is with him every step of the way – every minute, every moment. And it’s a hopeful idea.”
While viewing the casket on Sunday, the first lady said, she saw a little boy dressed in a Boy Scout uniform come up and give the queen a three-finger salute.
“I mean, it gave me a lump in my throat,” she said, pointing out “how much people love their queen no matter what age.”
President Biden wrote in a condolence book that the queen was “admired around the world for her unwavering commitment to service.”
The first lady signed a separate condolence book for spouses and ambassadors, saying, “Queen Elizabeth lived her life for the people. She served with wisdom and grace. We will never forget her warmth, kindness and the conversations we shared.”
In the interview, Jill Biden warned that there was a “human element” to the Queen’s death.
Speaking of Charles, she said: “He’s a king, but nobody should forget, he lost his mother and, you know, Prince William lost his grandmother. Sometimes we forget the real human part of it and the grief they have to go through and how they have to grieve publicly. But they’re doing okay. It seems,” he said.
More than 2,000 people were expected at Westminster Abbey for Monday’s funeral.