The US embassy in London moved to address rumors of a US-UK rift on Saturday following news reports that US President Joe Biden removed a bust of British war leader Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval office.
After being sworn in as the 46th US President, Biden has reportedly removed the bust of Churchill – replacing the sculpture with several new busts, including civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and socialist Latino union leader Cesar Chavez.
This led to reports in British media – and a consequent Twitter storm – that the removal of the Churchill bust was a snub to the UK and its leader Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pointing to a diminishing of the “Special Relationship” held between the two nations.
In response to the reports, the US embassy in London on Saturday issued a response on Twitter, sharing an amalgamation of video clips representing a timeline of shared close ties between the US and UK.
The post said: “We’ve seen some discussion about the Churchill Bust, so we just wanted to remind everyone what the Special Relationship is truly about.”
We’ve seen some discussion about the Churchill Bust, so we just wanted to remind everyone what the Special Relationship is truly about 🇺🇸🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/XOdff8hbcd— U.S. Embassy London (@USAinUK) January 22, 2021
The video - which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times – show the flags of both nations, and moments when former US Presidents and UK Prime Ministers – such as Barack Obama and David Cameron - have joined forces during decades of close bilateral ties.
The video was met with mixed reaction, with some social media users saying the US should just return the Churchill bust back to the UK.
One said: “… ‘Just a Bust’...yet more casual disrespect towards a work of historic art on long-term loan from the British to the White House as a mark of friendship, respect, and shared history between two allies who faced down true evil in the 1940s. If Biden doesn’t want it, return it.”
"Just a Bust". Yet more casual disrespect towards a work of historic art on long-term loan from the British to the White House as a mark of friendship, respect, and shared history between two allies who faced down true evil in the 1940s. If Biden doesn't want it, return it.— Daniel Cremin ✂️ (@DanielCreminUK) January 22, 2021
It followed a comment from a spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said Biden shares many of the British leaders’ values and priorities on issues such as climate change.
“The new president shares many of his values and priorities, including the need to tackle climate change, the global recovery from COVID, as well as boosting the
transatlantic alliance,” the spokesman said.
“British prime ministers have always had close relationships with US presidents and that will continue,” he added.
Churchill has also been recently targeted by activists on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement. Members have called the former Prime Minister – who led the UK during the Second World War and again between 1951 to 1955 – a ‘racist.. His statue was defaced outside the Houses of Parliament in London.