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Biden redecorates the Oval Office with a return of the blue rug and no sign of Winston Churchill

It includes busts of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Updated Jan 21st 2021, 4:31 PM

biden-white-house-oval-office Blue carpet has returned to the Oval Office. Source: Alex Brandon/PA Images

JOE BIDEN’S WHITE House team has been busy redecorating. 

Before President Biden had even set foot inside the Oval Office for the first time as US commander-in-chief, his team had changed the décor to what they say is a reflection of his priorities. 

The Washington Post was given a 20-minute tour of the new Oval Office, with reporter Annie Linskey told to keep off the freshly vacuumed rug while she was there. 

“It was important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America and started to show the landscape of who he is going to be as president,” Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office operations told the Washington Post. 

A number of  notable changes have been commented upon as a result of the tour. 

Firstly, a lot of people are represented with the reporter commenting on the “sheer number of portraits and busts of well-known American historical figures”.

biden-inauguration Biden at his desk with family photos and the Chavez bust behind him. Source: AP/PA Images

Among the busts represented are: Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks  and Eleanor Roosevelt. 

Most of those figures need little or no explanation, with MLK and RFK said to be among Biden’s most referenced figures relating to the civil rights movement. 

Chavez was a Mexican-American labour leader whose birthday is celebrated as a holiday in several US states including California and Texas. 

The bust of Chavez has pride of place behind the Oval Office’s famed oak desk, known as the Resolute Desk. 

biden-white-house-oval-office The bust of Martin Luther King Jr. Source: Alex Brandon/PA Images

Absent from the display is the bust of Winston Churchill, which Donald Trump had brought back to the office. The bust had been lent to George W. Bush as a gift from the UK but was returned as Barack Obama took office. 

The status of the Churchill bust has previously prompted several controversies and ahead of the Brexit referendum Boris Johnson had suggested that Obama removed the bust due to “the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire”. 

The apparent removal of the Churchill bust has already prompted reaction in the UK media, with The Sun describing it as a ‘Churchill snub’.

10 Downing Street has addressed the removal of the bust but has declined to criticise the decision, with a spokesperson saying that it was “up to the president”. 

The spokesman said: “The Oval Office is the president’s private office and it’s up to the president to decorate it as he wishes.

We’re in no doubt of the importance that president Biden places on the UK and US relationship and the Prime Minister looks forward to having a close relationship with him.

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What else is there to note from Biden’s redecoration?

biden-white-house-oval-office The view across the room from Biden's desk. Source: Alex Brandon/PA Images

One of the major changes that has been commented upon is a large portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt across from Biden’s desk. FDR led the US throughout most of the Second World War and is perhaps best known for the so-called New Deal, which revolutionised US federal support of citizens and the economy. 

To the left of Biden’s desk, a portrait of former president Andrew Jackson that was there during the Trump administration has been replaced by a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. 

Jackson features on the US twenty dollar bill, but as president he oversaw the forcible expulsions of Native Americans from their ancestral lands in the south-eastern United States. 

biden-white-house-oval-office A portrait of Benjamin Franklin and a bust of Harry Truman. Source: Alex Brandon/PA Images

Biden’s team have said the painting of scientist and philosopher Benjamin Franklin is there to represent Biden’s commitment to following science

Beside Franklin is a display case that features a sculpture depicting a horse and rider by Allan Houser of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. 

Even the carpet has changed in the Oval Office, with the golden-cream rug that was in place for Trump replaced by a deep blue that was in place during Bill Clinton’s presidency

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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