Why Biden Sat in the 14th Row Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral

At the Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral hundreds of leaders from around the world, as well as royals and dignitaries came to Westminster Abbey. The seating chart was filled with significance. So it’s not a surprise that the position of U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were stationed 14 rows back.

They were between the Czech Republic president and the Czech Republic prime minster. The President of Switzerland was seated one chair over the U.S. First lady.

It is also a routine question, but the answer is extraordinary. The Americans became stuck in traffic.

President Joe Biden takes his seat with wife Jill Biden, other heads of state and dignitaries, at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey, London. (Dominic Lipinski—Pool/Reuters)

Joe Biden is seated with Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden, and other heads of state, dignitaries at the State Funeral Queen Elizabeth II held at Westminster Abbey.

Dominic Lipinski—Pool/Reuters

While most VIPs took the bus to Westminster Abbey, the Bidens showed up in “the Beast,” the heavily armored limousine that travels with the U.S. President. Biden received one exception to strict security protocol, where guests were forbidden from using private jets or foreign vehicles to London.

The treatment was ended however.

According to the published schedule, foreign dignitaries would have to be seated in Westminster Abbey by 9:35 or 9:55 am, prior to the official start at 11 AM. The Bidens were met with standstill traffic on the route (a video shot by a cellphone showed the U.S. president’s limousine moving past a Pret-a-Manger).

It was only at 10:07 am that the Bidens arrived at funeral.

People wait to see the President of America when he is delayed. This wasn’t the case at the funeral for the longest-serving British monarch. Here, international royalty and leaders from around the world gathered by the hundreds.

The Bidens were “gently” told, according to the Guardian, They would need to wait for their seats to be found while British veterans carrying the honour of the George Cross and Victoria Cross walked through the Abbey in front of them. They followed the last military personnel down the main aisle until they found their seats.

When he signed the official condolence book for Queen Elizabeth II the day before the funeral, he said the Queen reminded him of his mother, and it was “an honor to meet her.”

“To all the people of England, all the people of the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you,” he said in his remarks. “You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years. All of us were. The world is better for her.”

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Send an email to Julia Zorthian at

Read More From Time

Send an email to Julia Zorthian at


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