It is not often American politicians say “God save the Queen”. This was exactly what happened when Joe Biden certified the election of Donald Trump as President in January 2017. While the applause rang out in the Senate chamber, he quietly said: “God save the Queen”.
The incident received some attention in the British and American media in 2017, but due to all the interest in Donald Trump that followed, no one paid it too much attention. So why did Joe Biden say that sentence?
Several theories were put forward. Some American politicians said he was suggesting America would be better off as a monarchy than with President Trump. Others thought he was simply concerned for Her Majesty’s health as she had been suffering from a heavy cold at the time. Some even said that Biden might had a referencing the Sex Pistols song, which opens: “God Save the Queen, the fascist regime.” Some believe that Biden had made a gaffe and that he meant to say something else, such as “God save the republic”, but that he misspoke. Something he has often done both before and after this incident.
In 2017, the British tabloid newspaper Metro had an unofficial poll in which they asked their readers what they thought Joe Biden actually meant by the statement. Of those who responded, 56% said they thought Joe Biden would prefer a monarchy over a Trump presidency, 21% said they tough Biden misspoke, 15% thought he was worried about the Queen’s health and the remaining 8% thought Biden was referring to the song from the Sex Pistols.
“God save the Queen” is a British reference of loyalty to the Queen. It is a sentence often said in formal settings and emphasizes a desire for the Queen to be of good health. It is also the name of the British national anthem. Most monarchies have similar expressions that are said to express loyalty to a monarch and a desire for the monarch’s good health.
If Joe Biden does triumph in the current Presidential election, we can assume that in some point he might well be meeting the Queen to whom he so famously referred in 2017.