19 January 2021

What is the US presidential inauguration and who will be there?

19 January 2021

President-elect Joe Biden has arrived in Washington DC ahead of his inauguration ceremony that will draw a line under four years of Donald Trump’s administration.

Mr Biden will look to heal the country following an election that became entrenched as Democrats and Republicans fought bitterly over the outcome of the vote.

US election (PA Graphics)

– What is an inauguration?

The formal ceremony marks the start of a new presidency.

The requirement is for the president-elect to recite the presidential oath of office.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Once these words are spoken, Mr Biden will then take his place as the 46th president.

Kamala Harris will become vice-president once she takes the oath of office, which usually happens just before the president.

Kamala Harris (AP)

– When is Mr Biden’s inauguration?

January 20 is always inauguration day and has been written into US constitutional law. The opening remarks will begin late afternoon UK time, just before noon in Washington DC.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in around midday. Mr Biden will then move into the White House later in the day – which will be his home for the next four years.

– Will security be enhanced given the recent trouble?

Biden Inauguration Security (AP)

Washington has been on edge since the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, which has prompted extraordinary security measures ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration.

The US Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol days earlier than usual in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown, with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of troops and law enforcement officers stationed around the area.

– Will Donald Trump be there?

Donald Trump (PA Wire)

Donald Trump will not attend Mr Biden’s inauguration, the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago.

Instead, Donald Trump plans to leave Washington on Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself.

– How will Covid-19 change this year’s inauguration?

Security screening (AP)

Mr Biden’s presidential inaugural parade will feature 1,391 virtual participants, 95 horses and nine dogs, with much of the programme removed from Washington due to the pandemic.

Crowds of supporters usually gather in the capital to celebrate the incoming president with ceremonies rich in pageantry and entertainment.

Concerns about spreading coronavirus led the planners to drastically reimagine Mr Biden’s inauguration, including scrapping some traditional events and making other events virtual.

– Who is performing?

Garth Brooks (AP)

Country star Garth Brooks joins Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, who will star at the inauguration. The headliners also performed during the inaugural celebration of Barack Obama in 2009.

Brooks turned down a chance to play for Donald Trump in 2017, citing a scheduling conflict.

Many others will appear at virtual events like Celebrating America, a 90-minute broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks and featuring Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi.

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