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President Joe Biden gifted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a $6,000 bike during his trip to the Group of 7 summit on Thursday, while Johnson returned the favor with a slightly less expensive gift, a framed photograph of American abolitionist Frederick Douglass that government officials noticed on Wikipedia.
Biden and Johnson exchanged their gifts when they met on Thursday in Carbis Bay, England, the first time the two have met since Biden took office. Both met with other world leaders on Friday for the first day of the G7 meeting in Carbis Bay, Biden’s first foreign trip as president.
The custom-made “Boris bike,” as Biden’s gift to the prime minister was dubbed, comes with a blue helmet emblazoned with the American and British flags and was handmade by Philadelphia-based Bilenky Cycle Works, Politico reported.
“The ‘Boris Bike’ comes full circle back to its British roots,” as the bike’s maker started his frame building skills with an English builder, Philly Bike Expo said, noting that the bike is a “remake of the classic English 3 speed in lightweight form.”
The framed picture Johnson handed the president on Thursday was a photo of a Frederick Douglass mural that was painted on a wall in Edinburgh by the Scottish street artist Ross Blair, otherwise known as Trench-One. After escaping slavery himself, Douglass became one of the most famous abolitionists in American history, speaking and writing eloquently against slavery before he died in 1895.
The U.S. Embassy in London wrote in a tweet that the two had exchanged “thoughtful gifts of welcome,” and noted that Douglass toured the British Isles.
Exchanging thoughtful gifts of welcome, @POTUS presented @BorisJohnson with a 🇺🇸 made bicycle & helmet, receiving in return a framed photo of a mural in Edinburgh depicting abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who toured the UK & Ireland in 1845-47. pic.twitter.com/bXkJ5wIjgH
— U.S. Embassy London (@USAinUK) June 11, 2021
Pictures of the “Boris Bike” and helmet from Philadelphia-based @bilenkycycles that Biden gave UK’s Boris Johnson, who was the 1st foreign leader he met with on his 1st overseas trip as president. pic.twitter.com/indVyn6JuS
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 11, 2021
The photo of the mural was taken by Melissa Highton, a dual U.K-U.S. national and assistant principal at the University of Edinburgh, who wrote a post drawing attention to the British government’s use of her photo.
“Some people on Twitter are being a bit rude about the traffic cone but I would remind you that both Edinburgh and Glasgow have a fine tradition of adding traffic cones to significant public art works and perhaps David Hume wasn’t using his,” Highton wrote, referring to a photo of Edinburgh’s statue of philosopher David Hume with a traffic cone on the statue’s head.
U.K. government officials reportedly contacted Highton several weeks ago asking for permission to present the photo to Biden after they noticed it on Douglass’ Wikipedia page.
The mural is part of Curious Edinburgh’s Black Lives Matter mural tour.
“The artworks – colourful, challenging, moving, powerful and diverse – inspired by the themes of I Can’t Breathe and Black Lives Matter, have been created by artists from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, all living in Scotland,” Curious Edinburgh said on its website.
The G7 summit is a meeting of seven of the world’s most powerful government heads, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States, which make up about half of the global economy.