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Jill Biden appears to inspect cheese and pickle sandwich at coronation lunch with Rishi Sunak

The US first lady attended a Big Lunch hosted by prime minister Rishi Sunak in celebration of King Charles’ coronation

Meredith Clark
New York
Monday 08 May 2023 06:37 BST
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Jill Biden joins Rishi Sunak for Coronation Big Lunch

First Lady Jill Biden attended a Big Lunch celebration hosted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, where she appeared to inspect a classic English sandwich.

The United States first lady and her granddaughter, Finnegan Biden, joined the British prime minister and his wife, Akshata Murty, for a banquet at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III.

However, a photo from the event captured Dr Biden looking puzzled over her cheese and pickle sandwich. The common British delicacy features cheese and pickled chutney.

The first lady, who was wearing a white embroidered dress, was seen greeting Sunak with a kiss on the cheek as the two sat beside each other for the coronation lunch. Other guests included community members, Ukrainian families, and youth groups.

The event took place outside the prime minister’s home at 10 Downing Street, where the street was plastered in union jacks. Two long tables were set up outside, complete with white tablecloths that were filled with food. One of the main courses of today’s celebrations included the “coronation quiche” – which was personally chosen by King Charles and Queen Camilla.

The recipe for the open-baked savoury tart features spinach, broad beans and tarragon. Coronation chicken has also been a popular fixture on the Big Lunch menu – which guests at the prime minister’s banquet dined on – along with sausage rolls and smoked salmon.

Dr Biden took to Twitter on Sunday to thank the prime minister and his wife for welcoming her to the meal at 10 Downing Street. “Cheers! Thank you, Rishi and Akshata for welcoming me to your Coronation Big Lunch as we mark this special moment in history,” she tweeted, alongside a photo of the first lady laughing with Sunak.

The “Big Lunch” is a long-standing British tradition which gathers together neighbours and members of the community to celebrate the newly crowned King. On 7 May, thousands of people across the country marked the coronation with street celebrations, tea parties, and lunches. It’s been reported that more than 67,000 of the celebratory lunches have been planned across the UK this weekend.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh attended a big lunch in Cranleigh, while the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence sat down to a community street party in Swindon. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, meanwhile, attended a big lunch in Windsor.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak passes plate of sandwiches to First Lady Jill Biden’s granddaughter, Finnegan Biden (Getty Images)

The Prince and Princess of Wales made a surprise appearance outside Windsor Castle, where fans have congregated for the coronation concert later this evening. Prince William and Kate were seen shaking hands with members of the crowd, with William telling one group of well-wishers: “Enjoy the concert tonight.”

The star-studded coronation concert will be staged at Windsor Castle, beginning at 8pm GMT (3pm EST) and broadcast live on the BBC. The concert will take place on the East Lawn of the castle’s grounds, the first time a large-scale event has been staged on the property. The Prince of Wales is set to make a speech, followed by performances from Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli.

Meanwhile, first lady Jill Biden spoke about the “amazing” time she had at the King’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on Saturday. In a phone call interview with the Associated Press after the ceremony, the grandmother of seven said the coronation “was just amazing” to witness and that it was an “honour” to attend the royal ceremony.

Rishi Sunak holds plate of sandwiches as Jill Biden takes one (Getty Images)

“You can’t imagine that moment where you actually see the crown being placed on the head of the King and then on the head of the Queen,” Dr Biden said. “It’s really surreal to see and experience that moment.”

“It was so meaningful to me that I could bring Finnegan here, that we could travel together and experience this together and it’s meant a lot to both of us.”

Jill Biden represented the United States at the coronation of King Charles III in place of her husband, President Joe Biden. However, the White House confirmed that Biden would travel to the UK for a state visit in “the near future”.

Follow for live updates from the coronation.

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