Doug Emhoff's Ex-Wife, Who Remains a Friend, Was 'So Excited' to Attend Biden-Harris Inauguration
Kerstin Emhoff attended the inaugural events with her children, Cole and Ella, whom she shares with ex-husband Doug Emhoff
Among the many celebrities, politicians, and extended family members to attend Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, one face stood out: Kerstin Emhoff, the ex-wife of the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is close with the couple.
The mother of two joined her children, Cole and Ella, to lend her support and attend the inaugural festivities this week, sharing a handful of images on Instagram that show the three, properly-masked, heading to various events including the swearing-in.
"This is real. So excited behind the mask!" she captioned a photo of herself in front of the Capitol steps.
Kerstin and Doug were married for 16 years before their divorce.
Harris married Emhoff in August 2014, became a stepmom to Cole and Ella, who the vice president spoke highly of throughout the campaign.
In an August interview with PEOPLE shortly after she was announced as Biden's running mate, Harris spoke of her close-knit relationship with the two.
"My children don't call me stepmom, they call me Momala," Harris said. "We're a very modern family. Their mom is a close friend of mine."
Emhoff, who could be seen seated a few rows behind her children at Wednesday morning's swearing-in, has been described as a "dear friend" by Harris.
"Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends," Harris wrote in Elle last year. "She and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella's swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella's embarrassment. We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional."
Harris also spoke warmly of Kerstin in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, saying her husband's ex-wife had been a critical part in growing closer to Cole and Ella.
"One of the keys to my relationship with Cole and Ella is their mom," Harris said. "We are friends. We have a very modern family ... The thing about blended families — if everyone approaches it in the way that there's plenty of love to share, then it works."
As Kerstin told Marie Claire for a 2020 profile of Emhoff, she was excited to hear that, following their divorce, he was dating Harris, who was the attorney general of California at the time. "I just thought, 'Wow, that's cool. Don't mess this up!' " she said.
Kerstin even volunteered her services to Harris' presidential bid before that campaign ultimately ended in 2019.
Harris, who met her future husband on a blind date in 2013, has previously said that she and Emhoff took it slow and "put a lot of thought into" how she would meet his kids.
When Harris did finally meet Cole and Ella, the former prosecutor wrote in Elle that she "had butterflies in [her] stomach."
"Cole and Ella could not have been more welcoming," Harris wrote. "They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in."
Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer who left his firm once Harris and Biden were elected, has seemingly transitioned into the role of second gentleman with ease, often taking to social media accounts to champion his wife's accomplishments.
The night prior to the inauguration, Emhoff shared a story he had written for GQ, in which he wrote that he knew he loved his wife the moment he first met her.
"The moment I met Kamala, I knew I was in love. Not just because of who she is—the warm, funny, and compassionate woman who grounds our family—but also because of the deep resolve with which she fights for the causes she believes in," Emhoff wrote. "As we built our lives together, we began joining our families and traditions."
Emhoff added that, while his role of the second gentleman was a new one for America, it was one that he felt would be modeled after the Second Ladies who came before him.
"I am honored to be the first male spouse of an American President or Vice President. But here's the truth: generations of women before me have used this platform to advocate for causes they believe in and build trust in our institutions at home and abroad—often without much accolade or acknowledgment," he wrote. "It's on their shoulders I stand. And it's their legacy of progress I will try to build on as Second Gentleman."