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    American Presidential Inaugurations Explained For British People

    A guide to Inauguration Day for confused British people.

    1. The first big difference is how long it takes to find out who you'll actually be swearing in. In the US, this process takes exactly 84 years.

    Paramount Pictures

    Eighty-four years in emotional distress = about a year and a half of actual presidential campaigning. And then there's another two months between getting elected and actually becoming president.

    And in the UK, well, there were about 90 minutes between Theresa May lauching her campaign to be the next prime minister, and being announced as the next prime minister by a man called Graham.

    Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images / Blingee / BuzzFeed

    After that, it was two days before she actually became PM. If this surprises and/or confuses you, read this and find out who Graham is.

    2. In the US, huge crowds witness the big moment that the president is sworn in on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

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    An estimated 1.8 million people attended Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009.

    In the UK, you officially become prime minister in a private meeting with the Queen.

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    It's just the one queen there to see it happen. There are not 1.8 million queens. That we know of.

    3. The exact moment of becoming president happens at noon on 20 January, which is about the time of the recitation of the oath of office.

    Tim Clary / AFP / Getty Images

    Traditionally, the chief justice of the Supreme Court administers the oath, which is written out in the fancy written-down American constitution.

    These are the words, in case you'd like to lip-synch along:

    "I, Jessica Banterpants, 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."

    And in the UK, the magic moment happens when the Queen ~invites you to form a new government~.

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    Get up, Theresa, the Queen's not that short.

    4. After the deed is done, the new US president gives a stirring inaugural address; some of these are long-remembered and very famous.

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    Here's a picture of John F. Kennedy's address, which included the immortal line, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." In 1933, FDR said "the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself."

    Abraham Lincoln's incredibly important second inaugural address took place in the last months of the American Civil War. He said: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

    Who knows what such immortal lines await us on Friday?

    Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday.…

    Anyway, the new prime minister also gives a speech, but to a much smaller group of mostly bored journalists in front of 10 Downing Street.

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    Nobody really remembers what is said in them.

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    I'm sure whatever Gordon said was great.

    5. But what happens to the outgoing president on Inauguration Day?

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    Well, the new president and family kindly walk them down the steps of the Capitol.

    Then they get in a helicopter, Marine One.

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    And they helicopter the fuck outta there.

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    And the new president waves at them like byeeee.

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    It's not a bad way to make an exit.

    In the UK, the outgoing prime minister gives a sad speech to the same pack of mostly bored journalists.

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    Then he kind of walks off...

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    ...and gets into a sensible midsize family car to go and see the Queen.

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    This all happens before the new prime minister goes to have HER Queen time. The Queen has a busy day, basically.

    The "outgoing prime minister in a sensible car" look is definitely more grim than the "fucking off in a helicopter to spend my retirement painting dogs" look.

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    There goes John Major on 2 May 1997, away from Downing Street and into the dustbin of history.

    6. But it's not over yet for the Americans! Next there's a massive parade with lots of military types and large brass instruments.

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    Everybody marches by a special presidential box and it's all very grand.

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    And the new president goes out there and gives the people what they want.

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    Which is a massive parade.

    In the UK, after she's done meeting the Queen, the new prime minister leaves Buckingham Palace and gets into a sensible midsize car...

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    ...and drives along to get back to Downing Street...

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    ...and then there's a bit of a walk at the end, and she does her speech to the bored reporters.

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    Best-case scenario, people like you and wave flags at you.

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    7. After the parade in the US, there are still loads of inaugural balls to attend. Like this one in 2009 with Beyoncé.

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    The Obamas were officially hosting 10 inaugural balls that night. But everyone remembers the one with Beyoncé.

    The balls are glamorous and ritzy affairs – here's the Obamas having a dance on a giant presidential seal.

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    In the UK, the new prime minister doesn't get 10 balls, or even one ball. But there IS this moment after arriving at Downing Street where some employees clap at you, so that's nice.

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    And there may not be a big grand dance with the husband or wife, but there is a nice wave from the steps of Number 10.

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    Or even an awkward snog. And who would want a parade when you can watch your new leader awkwardly handle their partner?

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    It's the finest British political tradition of all.

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