Joe Biden inauguration: Boris Johnson congratulates President
Taking charge days after the Capitol was stormed by a pro-Donald Trump mob, Mr Biden promised to start afresh and “end this uncivil war”. He also pledged to “restore the soul of America and cross the river of divide”.
Ousted Republican president Mr Trump and wife Melania flew out of Washington before his Democrat successor’s inauguration that was watched by a worldwide TV audience of billions.
Mr Biden took the oath to become, at the age of 78, the oldest person to take over the Oval Office.
After years of bitter divisions that plagued the US, he said: “This is America’s Day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Today we celebrate a triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, a cause of democracy.
“We come together as one nation.
We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”
Joe Biden waves to the crowd after being sworn in
And he pledged his “whole soul is in putting America back together again”.
On the day when Mr Biden promised the country’s healing had started, Kamala Harris became the first Asian-American Vice-President and the first woman to hold that office.
Delivering a conciliatory address on the West Front of the Capitol, President Biden said: “The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.
“We’ve learned again that democracy’s precious, democracy’s fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed. Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. This is our historic moment.”
President-elect Joe Biden takes the Oath of Office from Chief Justice of the US John Roberts
President and Secretary Clinton were present at the inuguration
Moments later he declared on Twitter: “Now the real work begins”.
Boris Johnson watched the ceremony on television at No 10, below, calling the transfer of power “a step forward” for the US.
Boris Johnson watching the President of the United States, Joe Biden’s Inauguration
He said: “I really congratulate Joe and Kamala on their achievement. It’s a fantastic thing for America, a step forward for the country that has been through a bumpy period.
“And for us and America it’s a big moment,” the PM added.
President Biden’s inauguration had been scaled back by the pandemic but took place in front of 1,000 masked guests, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, plus George and Laura Bush.
Jennifer Lopez entertains the sparse crowd at the inauguration
Also there were British Ambassador Karen Pierce, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The Queen had sent a private message earlier.
Father Lee O’Donovan – who had led the funeral of Joe Biden’s son Beau – conducted the invocation, while the benediction was given by Rev Silvester Beaman, from President Biden’s home state of Delaware.
Pop star Lady Gaga, below, sporting a symbolic gold dove and olive branch, sang the American National Anthem The Star-Spangled Banner, and singer Jennifer Lopez, above, gave a rousing rendition of This Land Is Your Land and America The Beautiful.
Lady Gaga entertains the crowds
President Biden took the oath of office before US Chief Justice John Roberts, placing his hand on a family heirloom Bible.
He said: “We come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power. I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. They lie in bed…thinking about their families, about what comes next.”
He then added: “But the answer is not to turn inward to retreat into competing factions. We must end this uncivil war.
“That pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has a Michael Foot moment at the inauguration
“We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.
“If we show a little tolerance and humility and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes.”
He was joined at the ceremony by his teacher wife, First Lady Dr Jill Biden, and by Vice-President Harris’s husband Doug Emhoff.
80-year-old Nancy Pelosi in blue keeps warm with a blanket over her legs
Vice-President Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, was sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina member.
The ceremony unfolded in front of a heavily fortified Capitol which had been stormed by President Trump supporters, angered by false claims that November’s presidential election was stolen from him.
Doug Emhoff and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during the Inauguration Day ceremon
President Biden prayed “for those we’ve left behind” and said Covid had “taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War Two”.
The US has had more than 402,400 Covid-related deaths, the world’s worst toll.