LONDON — In one of his more diverse schedules, President Barack Obama will have lunch with Britain’s 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth II on Friday before shifting gears for talks on what he sees as a defining moment in the U.K.’s history.
Obama has already weighed into the country’s upcoming referendum over whether it should remain the European Union, writing a spirited article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that argued Britain would be much better off in.
The June 23 vote will be one of the main topics on the agenda later Friday when the president meets British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is also backing his country to stay in the E.U.
The leaders will also discuss Anglo-American efforts to combat ISIS, among other issues.
First, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have a lunch date at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth, who celebrated her 90th birthday Thursday and is the world’s oldest reigning monarch.
It will be his first of two royal engagements of the day. Later on Friday the Obamas will have dinner at Kensington Palace with perhaps the world’s most popular royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — more commonly known as Prince William and Kate — and William’s brother, Prince Harry.
Obama managed to make a splash before he so much as had a sip of tea with any royalty or politicians.
Writing an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph, the president waded into the referendum on the U.K.’s possible “Brexit” from the E.U., a debate that has divided Cameron’s government as well as the British people.
“The United States sees how your powerful voice in Europe ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world, and keeps the E.U. open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic,” he wrote.
“Now is a time for friends and allies to stick together,” Obama wrote, adding that the decision was “a matter of deep interest to the United States.”
The article drew ire from London Mayor Boris Johnson, the leading voice in the campaign to leave the E.U.
“It’s a breathtaking example of the principle of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do,” Johnson wrote in The Sun newspaper of Obama’s interjection, arguing that America would never enter into an E.U.-style agreement.
“Can we take back control of our borders and our money and our system of Government? Yes we can,” he added, turning Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan against him.