US prepares for first inauguration without outgoing president in 152 years

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy

Inauguration Day holds a special place in America’s heart and it’s history.

Whatever the turmoil, however contentious the campaign, it is a day to reaffirm the country’s democracy and celebrate its constitution.

The battle for the White House over, the day offers a chance for a smooth, dignified transition.

The move from the old to the new.

Respect for the office is expected to transcend the political differences.

That is why for hundreds of years now, the outgoing president meets the incomer on the steps of the White House, a warm word, a warm welcome and then a few minutes inside for a drink and a snack before they travel together to the Capitol.

There is a heavy security presence in DC ahead of the inauguration. Credit: AP

Normally this is not just a moment for politicians.

Normally the Mall would be awash with those celebrating the next chapter in their country’s history.

But these are not normal days.

The duel scourge of a health and security crisis has done for the crowds. The departing president has done for tradition.

For the first time in 152 years there will be no outgoing president to fare his successor well.

That successor will not miss him, but he will miss those who would normally line these empty streets to celebrate the dawn of a new era.

Watch President Biden's Inauguration - an ITV News special programme - from 3.30pm on ITV and online here.