Biden, in London, honors the queen and avoids diplomatic disputes

LONDON — President Biden visited Westminster Hall here Sunday to view Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin, his first official act of condolence during a brief visit to the United

Kingdom to attend the funeral of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. As he stood before the coffin, Biden took a deep breath before making the sign of the cross and then

placing his hand over his heart. With the visit, the president and first lady Jill Biden, became the latest — and highest profile — visitors to the royal lying in state that has

drawn thousands of people in queues stretching for miles. “She was the same in person as her image,” Biden said Sunday after signing a condolence book for her. “Decent,

honorable and all about service.” Biden’s itinerary is being closely watched by the British public, from his arrival on Air Force One on Saturday night, to which British

officials he chooses to engage, to his use of the presidential limousine known as “The Beast” while other world leaders are relegated to buses. With a new monarch in King

Charles III and a recently installed prime minister in Liz Truss, the United Kingdom is experiencing an “extremely rare” period of political transition, and Britons see the

“special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States as a source of continuity and stability, said Brian Klaas, associate professor of global politics at

University College London.