Meaning Behind Special Gift U.K. PM Starmer Gave to Biden

Sir Keir Starmer, the new U.K. Prime Minister who took office last week, visited the White House on Wednesday where he gave President Joe Biden a unique gift: a personalized Arsenal soccer T-shirt. The jersey was printed with Biden’s last name and the number “46” on the back, a nod to the fact that Biden is the 46th U.S. President. 

Starmer has long been a fan of the North London-based soccer team. A season ticket holder, he has been photographed at games multiple times. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Starmer has gifted a fellow politician with an Arsenal shirt. He also gave a personalized jersey to French President Emmanuel Macron when they met in September 2023. 

In an emailed statement shared with TIME, the Downing Street press office said of Starmer’s gift to Biden: “Obviously, as you well know, the Prime Minister is a longstanding Arsenal fan and season ticket holder. It is his team and he thought it would make a personal gift for the President.”

Starmer visited the White House as part of NATO’s 75th anniversary summit, where he was there to represent Britain on the world stage regarding matters of international diplomacy and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. While there, he also gifted President Biden a copy of the Atlantic Charter, an agreement that helped paved the way for NATO, that included amendments from the Labour Party leader at the time Clement Attlee. 

During his visit, Starmer said that the U.K.’s “special relationship with the U.S. is so important” and “stronger now than ever,” in BBC footage of the event. He also emphasized his support for Ukraine amidst its ongoing war with Russia.

At one point, the pair commented on the success of England’s soccer team in the EURO 2024 tournament, as the team made the finals on Wednesday night after beating the Netherlands 2-1 in a game. Biden joked that England’s success was “all because of the Prime Minister,” Starmer responded that England’s team had “not lost a game under the Labour government in 2024.” Afterwards, a reporter asked Starmer if England would win the tournament, to which the Prime Minister responded “it looks like it.”

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