Joe Biden inauguration: US President and Kamala Harris’s family fun day
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In their colourful, cosy coats, accessorised with masks, the Biden and Harris clans looked as wholesome and normal as apple pie, a world away from the brittle, over-groomed style of Team Trump. Their smiles may have been hidden, but the pride and the love shone through as Biden and Harris swore their oaths at the Capitol Building, then took the ceremonial walk with their relatives to the White House, waving at supporters.
There was no inaugural ball for America’s 46th President and first female, first black and Asian-American Vice-President, just an online concert and a firework show. But they turned it into a family occasion enjoyed by everyone from eight-month-old Beau Biden to the 78-year-old President.
When Kamala Harris, 56, placed her hand on the Bible to recite her oath, her younger sister Maya sobbed, overcome with emotion. When Mr Biden finished his vow, he sealed the moment with a tender kiss on the lips of his wife Jill.
Looking on were his grown-up children, Hunter, 50, his surviving son from his first marriage, and Ashley, 39, his daughter with Jill. The President has been married to Dr Biden, 69, for 43 years. A devoted teacher, she has said she will continue working as well as undertaking First Lady duties.
Blonde and petite, she met Mr Biden in March 1975.
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She had been divorced from her first husband for five years. He was a US Senator who tragically lost his first wife and their daughter in a car accident three years earlier.
Set up on a blind date, Jill has recalled: “I thought, ‘God this is never going to work, not in a million years’. He was nine years older!” But later that night, she rang her mother to say: “Mom, I finally met a gentleman.”
They married in 1977 and the new Mrs Biden became stepmother to two sons, Hunter and Beau, a lawyer and army officer who died of brain cancer in 2015 aged 46.
But in an adorable moment, as the Biden family watched the online concert, Mr Biden danced to Bill Withers’ song Lovely Day, performed by Demi Lovato, while he cuddled his youngest grandchild, Beau, son of Hunter and named after his late uncle.
Earlier, the new president’s older granddaughters Natalie, Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy were hailed by fashion watchers as the breakout style stars of the day, wearing elegant suits and coats in “Neapolitan ice-cream colours of pink, white and camel”.
Vice-President Harris was also surrounded by a large, extended brood formed of step-children, nieces and nephews.
During the inauguration parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, she clasped the hand of her great-niece, Amara Ajagu, four, on one side and her husband, Doug Emhoff, on the other. Amara, and her sister, Leela, two, the children of her niece Meena Harris, wore faux leopard-print coats modelled on versions worn by Ms Harris as a child.
“Family is everything to me,” she has proclaimed in the past. Mr Emhoff, 56, is now officially known as America’s “Second Gentleman” as the first male spouse of a US vice-president.
The title was confirmed by Ms Harris last month, but she said their friends would probably call him the “second dude”, while she would stick to “Honey”.
Mr Emhoff has built his own career as a high-powered entertainment lawyer. Born in New York City to Jewish parents, he graduated from law school in 1990, spending a decade at legal firm Venable LLP before joining DLA Piper as a partner in 2017.
Like the Bidens, Ms Harris and Mr Emhoff met on a blind date, and again, there were instant fireworks.
“The moment I met Kamala, I knew I was in love,” Mr Emhoff wrote in an article for GQ on Tuesday.
“Not just because of who she is – the warm, funny, and compassionate woman who grounds our family – but also because of the deep resolve with which she fights for the causes she believes in.”
They married a year later. Mr Emhoff has two children by his film producer ex-wife Kerstin Emhoff.
Cole, 26, works for a Hollywood production company, while Ella, 21, hopes to become a fashion designer. Despite being thrust into the limelight, the siblings looked at ease. Ella, her curls swept back by a hairband, wore a tweed suit with an oversized white collar.
Ms Harris is clearly adored by her stepchildren who call her “Momola”, and she credits them with sealing the deal on her marriage to their father.
“I was already hooked on Doug,” she has said, “but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in.”
All members of the “blended family”, as Mr Emhoff calls them, get on well.
The Vice-President is on good terms with her husband’s ex-wife.
With his wife now firmly placed in the West Wing, Mr Emhoff has now stood down from his career as a lawyer, a decision he said he and his wife had “made together”, adding, “this was about something bigger than either of us”.
Ms Harris is particularly close to her niece Meena Harris, 36, the daughter of her younger sister Maya.
Meena, a Harvard-educated lawyer and best-selling children’s author, runs the clothing label Phenomenal.
She and her husband, Nikolas Ajagu, are parents to Amara and Leela.
Before the concert, hosted by Tom Hanks, the Biden family, who had changed into more casual clothes, gathered on the White House balconies to watch a spectacular display of fireworks as Katy Perry sang – what else? – her hit Firework.
And Washington started getting used to the new team in town and their TWO big happy families.
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