“It was really moving. We went in there, Joe and I, near the casket, the mourners filed by,” Biden told CNN in a phone interview. The first lady said she saw a young boy in a Boy Scout uniform walking past the casket.
“He stuck up his three fingers and gave the Queen a final salute, and just seeing that gave me a lump in my throat,” she recalled.
Biden added that she could feel the deep emotional toll the Queen’s death has had on the people of Britain, noting that the “thousands and thousands” of people queuing to pay their respects was “a wonderful sight”.
Biden noted that she, too, would have stood in line for 24 hours if that was what it took to pay her respects to someone she loved, as many of Elizabeth’s fans and admirers have.
“Things are moving on time,” she said. “It’s quite an impressive operation.”
Biden recounted his own personal interactions with the queen over the years.
“She was, of course, queen her whole life,” Biden said. “I had met her after I had married Joe. I was young, I was a young mother, it was when Joe was a senator, we went over [to the UK] to meet the queen. She was very hot then.”
Nevertheless, it was the Bidens’ private tea with her last summer that made the deepest impression.
“I loved her sense of curiosity,” Biden said of the time they spent alone with the queen. “She wanted to know everything about American politics, so she asked Joe question after question.”
The First Lady echoed similar sentiments about the meeting that her husband made at the time, saying the Queen had reminded him in a way of his own mother.
“We were sitting there in her living room – it was really almost like being with your grandmother,” said Jill Biden, revealing how the Queen insisted on getting up to pour Biden’s tea.
Biden also shed light on the private reception hosted on Sunday evening by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace for the many dignitaries, royals and world leaders in attendance.
Biden said King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, were there, as were the new Prince and Princess of Wales, but Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were not. Asked if she had spoken to Harry at all since her grandmother’s death, Biden, who has known Harry and supported his Invictus Games charity for a number of years, told CNN: “No, I haven’t.”
Biden said her conversations with King Charles and the royal family at the reception were only about the Queen.
“We really talked about the woman, and who she was, and what she really meant to the whole world,” Biden said, adding that she noted Charles’ human grief.
“He’s the king, but you know, nobody should forget that he lost his mother, and Prince William lost a grandmother, and sometimes we tend to forget the really human piece there, and the grief they have to carry – and how they have to mourn in public. But … they seem to be doing well.”
As for her lasting impression of the queen, Biden said that in addition to “how warm and gracious she was to me and Joe,” it would be the impact she had on the entire world, which Biden said she witnessed firsthand.
“Now that I’ve met everyone in the reception — how many heads of state, kings and queens came to be here to honor her and represent their countries,” Biden said. “Just as Joe and I feel honored to represent the American people.”