For the first time since the pandemic halted face-to-face events, leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States have gathered for three days of talks in a British sea-side town to try to address some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Stopping the coronavirus pandemic will be front and center in the talks. But summits like the G-7 also provide a window into the dynamics between the world leaders beyond their statements and press conferences.
Take, for instance, the unforgettable images of former President Donald Trump white-knuckling leaders with handshakes and pushing aside the prime minister of Montenegro in an apparent attempt to get to the front of a photo-op.
Here’s a look at some of the moments you may have missed on Day 1.
Most important meal of the day
“Multilateralism is back @G7” tweeted Charles Michel, President of the European Council, alongside a photo of several leaders gathered together for what appeared to be breakfast ahead of the day’s talks. French President Emmanuel Macron also shared a photo of the gathering via Twitter.
“The EU wants to make sure the world is vaccinated as quickly as possible. Only together can we do this by upholding our values,” Michel wrote and included the hashtag “BuildBackBetter”, a phrase that G-7 host Prime Minister Boris Johnson has adopted, and that Biden campaigned with to describe his agenda to “rescue, recover and rebuild” after the pandemic.
On Thursday, Biden announced the U.S. will donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to nearly 100 countries struggling to afford them. G-7 leaders are expected to announce on Day 1 of the talks a commitment to share 1 billion of their COVID-19 vaccine resources with lower income countries.
Handshakes out, elbow greetings in
At the start of the summit on Friday, the world leaders and their spouses walked up a pier one at a time to get a photo with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie.
Exaggerated elbow bumps as a safety measure replaced the traditional handshakes between leaders.
“Everybody in the water,” quipped Biden to the pool of photographers.
As is customary, the leaders gathered for an official photo before the start of the talks.
Harry and Meghan’s newborn gets a mention
On Friday, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and First Lady Jill Biden toured a classroom at Connor Downs Academy and held a roundtable on early childhood education.
That itself provided an awkward moment.
Reporters traveling with Biden asked Middleton if she had any wishes for her new niece, Lilibet Diana, the newborn daughter of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who have stepped back from the British royal family in a very public way.
The baby was named in honor of the Duke’s late mother, Princess Diana of Wales, and Queen Elizabeth. The name sparked some controversy, with questions of whether the Queen had given her blessing for the use of her childhood nickname.
“I wish her all the very best. I can’t wait to meet her,” Middleton said. “We haven’t met her yet. I hope that will be soon.”
She was asked whether she had FaceTimed with her new niece. “No, I haven’t,” she said.
Johnson sees a more ‘feminine’ post-COVID world
Cameras were allowed in briefly as the leaders began their formal meeting. Johnson gave some opening remarks, noting how refreshing it is to work with people in person.
He nodded to the topic of climate change, saying, “We are united in our vision for a cleaner, greener world, a solution to the problems of climate change.”
As NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports, any concrete action announced during the talks on climate change could provide momentum for the U.N. Climate Change Conference this fall. Johnson is hosting that Glasgow meeting, too.
But he focused on COVID-19. “We need to make sure that we learn the lessons from the pandemic,” he said.
“We are building back better together, and building back greener, and building back fairer, and building back more equal, and in a more gender neutral and perhaps a more feminine way. How about that?” Johnson said.