A group of London children who were preparing for the coronation this weekend had some extra festivities in their school on Friday when the first lady, Jill Biden, and Akshata Murty, the wife of Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, came to their classrooms.
Sitting among the students, the guests praised some young musicians after a string-instrument performance of “Lovely” by Billie Eilish.
“It was incredible,” Dr. Biden said, adding, “Thank you for sharing your talent with us.”
“You made it look so easy,” Ms. Murty said.
The performance at Charles Dickens Primary School, in the Borough neighborhood of London, was just one of a series of events on Friday linked to issues that have long been a priority for Dr. Biden.
President Biden will not be attending the coronation of King Charles III this weekend, but the first lady arrived in London on Thursday night with one of her granddaughters, Finnegan Biden. The pair spent Friday visiting with children and veterans.
The sun was shining as Dr. Biden and Ms. Murty arrived at the school on Friday afternoon and met in the cafeteria with children, who were wearing golden paper crowns in honor of the coronation.
Dr. Biden sat at a table between some of the students, who were eating small sandwiches cut into tidy triangles, and told one of the teachers about her own role as an educator. Dr. Biden has been a classroom teacher for over 30 years and is currently a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College.
“Are you excited about tomorrow?” she asked one girl, who nodded her head enthusiastically. “And how was your lunch? Do you like that coronation sandwich?”
Earlier in the day, Dr. Biden had arrived in the rain at the prime minister’s offices at 10 Downing Street for a private meeting with Ms. Murty, who greeted the first lady with an embrace and a kiss on each cheek. It was the first time that the pair have met, and it kicked off a weekend of public appearances for Dr. Biden.
After a private meeting, Dr. Biden and Ms. Murty joined Jane Hartley, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, and Johnny Mercer, Britain’s Veterans’ Affairs minister, for a boxing demonstration by veterans involved with The Fighting Chance, a London-based organization that provides boxing training and employment support to veterans.
Under a glittering chandelier in a 10 Downing Street meeting room, a group from the organization was sparring in boxing gloves under portraits of Henry VIII, Shakespeare, and Ada Lovelace.
One of the women taking part in the boxing demonstration, who was throwing punches at the gloves of her sparring partner, was Maurillia Simpson, a veteran and gold medal winner in the Invictus Games. She is also a wheelchair user after injuring her left leg while training for deployment to Afghanistan.
She had previously done three tours in Iraq. Dr. Biden hugged her, and both she and Ms. Murty thanked her repeatedly for her service.