WASHINGTON –– President Barack Obama has awarded an emotional and surprised Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honour.
Obama praised his vice-president for his “faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and a lifetime of service”.
The award comes as both men prepare to leave office when Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20.
Biden has said he plans to stay active in Democratic Party politics.
A visibly emotional Joe Biden stood by as Obama heaped praise on what he called the “best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people”.
He joked that the internet would have one last chance to mock their “bromance”.
Biden said he was “part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things”.
He said that he had had no idea the award was coming.
“I had no inkling. I thought we were coming over to Michelle for you, Jill and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.
“Mr President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill but I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room.”