By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
LONDON (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden, in London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, said Sunday his heart goes out to his family because his death left them with a “giant hole.”
“Sometimes you think you’ll never get over it,” said Biden, who often speaks in very personal terms about the loss following the death of his first wife and baby daughter, and then a grown son. “But as I told the King, she will be with him every step of the way – every minute, every moment. And it is a reassuring notion.
Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, paid their respects to the Queen on Sunday. The couple traveled to Westminster Hall to stand before the monarch’s coffin in the presence of thousands of mourners who waited more than 14 hours to file.
Biden and the first lady then stopped at Lancaster House to sign separate condolence books before attending a reception at Buckingham Palace that King Charles III hosted for world leaders attending Monday’s funeral at the Abbey. of Westminster.
Both Bidens recalled their tea time with the Queen last year at Windsor Castle, near London.
The president, who said after that visit that Elizabeth reminded him of his late mother, said Sunday that she continues to offer him crumpets.
“I kept eating whatever she put in front of me,” he said. “But she was the same in person as… her image: decent, honorable and all about service.”
The first lady told The Associated Press in a telephone interview after the palace reception that “what really impressed me” about the Queen was “how warm and gracious she was”.
“I loved his sense of curiosity. She wanted to know everything about American politics and so she asked Joe question after question,” Jill Biden said. She said sitting in Elizabeth’s living room was “almost like being, you know, with your grandmother”.
“And she said, ‘Let me pour the tea,’ and we said, ‘No, no, let’s help each other,’ and she said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, I’ll get that. Sit down,” Jill Biden said. “And it was just a very special time with a very special woman.”
As she stood next to the coffin in Westminster Hall on Sunday, the first lady said she saw a small boy dressed in a Boy Scout uniform walk in and greet the three-fingered Queen.
“I mean, it just gave me a lump in my throat,” she said, and showed “how much people really loved their queen, no matter how old they were.”
President Biden wrote in the condolence book that the Queen “was admired around the world for her unwavering commitment to service.”
The first lady signed a separate condolence book for spouses and ambassadors, writing, “Queen Elizabeth lived her life for the people. She served with wisdom and grace. We will never forget his warmth, kindness and the conversations we shared.
In the interview, Jill Biden warned there was a “human piece” to the Queen’s death.
Speaking of Charles, she said: ‘He is the king, but no one should forget that he lost his mother and, you know, Prince William lost a grandmother. Sometimes we tend to forget the really human part of it all and the grief that they…have to go through and how they have to cry in public. But they seem to be fine,” she said.
More than 2,000 people were expected at Westminster Abbey for Monday’s funeral.
Follow AP coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii
. Biden Jill Biden share memories visit with queen