First lady Jill Biden and Duchess Kate of Cambridge met for the first time Friday to talk about a topic about which they are both passionate – education – and during the visit, the duchess fielded a question about her new baby niece and expressed her well-wishes.
While their discussion focused primarily on early childhood education, a pool reporter seized the moment to ask Kate whether she had met her new niece, Lilibet “Lili” Diana,” new daughter of Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry, who is a friend of Jill Biden.
“I wish her all the very best. I can’t wait to meet her,” Kate said of the new baby, born an American citizen in Santa Barbara, Calif. on June 4. “We haven’t met her yet. I hope that will be soon.”
Another reporter asked if she had facetimed with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex yet?
“No I haven’t,” she said.
Thus, the royal charm offensive began at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, with Biden and the duchess in the lead during a joint engagement at a local school.
Their meeting was just the first public sign of the day that the British crown and government view the first G7 summit of the Biden administration as important enough to deploy its top royals to the scene to spread some royal fairy dust.
Later on Friday, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla of Cornwall, Prince William and Kate – a reigning monarch and two future monarchs – hosted the summiteers, including the Bidens, at a private reception at the Eden Project, an environmental and educational center in Bodelva, Cornwall.
The duchess and the first lady – both of whom have made education among their causes – appeared together for a visit to Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, West Cornwall, where President Joe Biden is attending the summit taking place this weekend.
“It’s a huge honor to have you in the United Kingdom,” Kate said, thanking Biden for her interest in early education, a major part of the duchess’ own platform. “I’m very much looking forward to the conversation.”
The first lady and the duchess met with young students and then led a roundtable discussion with educators on how early childhood schooling results in positive outcomes for kids.
Like many Americans, Biden was impressed with the good manners of the British kids she met.
“I met some wonderful teachers and principals and most of all the children, who were so inspiring and so well behaved. I couldn’t get over it,” she said, according to the White House pool report.
“And I want to thank the press for covering this because early childhood education is so important to lay the foundation for all of our students. So thank you for having me everybody. It’s a very special place,” Biden said.
On Sunday, the Bidens are scheduled to have tea with the queen during a courtesy call at Windsor Castle, where he will become the 13th serving president of the last 14 the queen has met since 1951, the year before she ascended the throne.
The White House said Friday that Biden had met Her Majesty once before, in 1982, when he was in his second term as U.S. senator representing Delaware.
The first lady, 70, is a working college professor who has made supporting community colleges one of her key items on her agenda. And the former Kate Middleton, 39, married to Prince William since 2011 and mother of three under the age of 7, has made early childhood support one of her major causes.
They met with 4- and 5-year-olds and were introduced to the children’s rabbits, including a large bunny named Storm. The first lady helped the kids feed him some carrots.
Biden and Kate were wearing face masks; the children were not but they wore uniforms, as is typical in British schools. They sat at tables with the kids, watched them draw, listened to them reading “Greta and the Giant” and helped some with Legos. Both heaped praise on the kids.
After the roundtable discussion, Biden said she still had “a million questions” to ask.
“So it’s just such a fascinating discussion, but I think we’re moving in the right direction,” she said. “And I also wanted to ask about food security and so many things I wanted to ask about, I guess I’ll have to just come back.”
Kate said she would be focused on the issue for the foreseeable future. “I’m committed to this for a long time,” she said. “I hope our two countries can continue on this and share data.”