Over her 70-year-reign, Queen Elizabeth played a major role in facilitating the UK and the US’s diplomatic relationship. As the world’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth was around to meet a large number of American presidents. In fact, she met 13 out of the last 14 U.S. presidents. (The one exception was Lyndon Johnson, but he did meet Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret.) Here, we break down each meeting the queen had with US presidents. It becomes very apparent to us that she liked some presidents more than others.
1. Harry Truman, 1951
The first U.S. president Elizabeth met was Harry Truman, in 1951. Technically, Elizabeth was not yet the queen, but her father King George VI was so ill at the time that Elizabeth and her husband Philip represented the royal family on an official trip to America when she was just 25 years old.
Princess Elizabeth and Philip were only in Washington D.C. for two days, but made the most of their visit with President Truman. The royal couple left a lasting impression on President Truman, who later recalled “never before have we had such a wonderful young couple, who have so completely captured the hearts of all of us.”
2. Dwight Eisenhower, 1957
Queen Elizabeth II made her first official visit to America after being crowned queen in 1957. Queen Elizabeth II and Dwight Eisenhower had previously met when she was still a princess, as he had befriended her parents.
On October 20th, 1957, Queen Elizabeth II attended a state dinner at the White House. For the occasion, Eisenhower wore his British Order of Merit, which had been awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. Two years later, Queen Elizabeth would host Eisenhower at Balmoral Castle.
3. John F. Kennedy, 1961
Queen Elizabeth met President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy only a few months after Kennedy’s inauguration, in June 1961. For this meeting, the queen hosted the Kennedys at a state dinner at Buckingham Palace, which included a banquet held in their honor and a luxurious spread of food.
Interestingly, Queen Elizabeth and President Kennedy kept in touch until his death in 1963, after which the queen created a physical memorial and scholarship fund in Kennedy’s honor.
4. Richard Nixon, 1969
The 1969 meeting between Queen Elizabeth II and President Richard Nixon wasn’t the first time the two heads of state had met. The pair were first introduced to each other in 1957 when Nixon was Vice President under Eisenhower.
In 1969, Nixon made an informal visit to the United Kingdom, where he was hosted at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. During this visit, Nixon and the Queen exchanged signed photos of themselves.
5. Gerald Ford, 1976
Queen Elizabeth went across the pond in 1976 shortly after the 200th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain to celebrate the continuing relationship between the two countries. She was welcomed with a state dinner hosted by President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty.
According to Betty Ford’s memoir, “the Queen was very easy to deal with. If I hadn’t kept mixing up Your Highness and Your Majesty (he’s His Highness, she’s Her Majesty), I’d have given myself four stars for the way the visit went off.” Talk about a success!
6. Jimmy Carter, 1977
Shortly after Queen Elizabeth’s trip 1976 visit to America, she met US President Jimmy Carter. The royal family hosted President Jimmy Carter and other heads of state during a NATO summit in May of 1977.
President Jimmy Carter famously broke royal protocol when he planted a full kiss on the Queen Mother’s mouth during this dinner at Buckingham Palace. Both the Queen and Queen Mother were mortified, as the Queen Mother famously stated “nobody has done that since my husband died.” First rule of royal protocol — don’t get too familiar with royalty.
7. Ronald Reagan, 1982
President Ronald Regan and his wife Nancy became the first American president and First Lady to stay overnight at the Windsor Castle during an official state visit in June of 1982. Writing in his memoir, Reagan recalled that the 1982 trip was a “fairytale” visit, and one of the most “fun” moments of his presidency.
This 1982 trip was the first of three visits the Reagans made to see the Queen in the U.K., and she also visited their ranch near Santa Barbara in 1983. It was clear that Queen Elizabeth II took a liking to Reagan, which surely made their work a little easier.
8. George H.W. Bush, 1989
President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush first met Queen Elizabeth in June of 1989. The American couple got the royal treatment from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, as they brought them on a tour of Buckingham Palace. The Bushes also met then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who President George HW Bush found very difficult to deal with.
Two years later, the queen returned to America and was hosted by the Bushes. During this trip, President George H.W. Bush took the Queen and Prince Philip to a Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball game. This was the first time the Queen had ever been to a baseball game in her life.
9. Bill Clinton, 1994
Queen Elizabeth II and President Bill Clinton first met in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of D-Day in the southern England city of Portsmouth. President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton were invited to stay overnight on the royal yacht, Britannia.
However, the royal couple would visit with the Clintons several times during his presidency, as Bill Clinton was involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
10. George W. Bush, 2001
Technically, the first time US President George W. Bush met Queen Elizabeth was over lunch at Buckingham Palace while he was on a six-day European tour in 2001. However, in 2003 President George Bush became the first US president to make an official state visit to the United Kingdom.
Around 100,000 people took to the streets in the UK during Bush’s visit to protest the Iraq War. These protests reportedly cost the United Kingdom millions spent on security during Bush’s three-day visit. In 2007, President Bush hosted the queen in America.
11. Barack Obama, 2009
Over the course of his presidency, Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama made five trips to Britain. The first time the Obamas met Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip was in April of 2009 at Buckingham Palace.
In 2011, the Obamas visited Queen Elizabeth again on an official state visit. The Obamas presented her with a set of memorabilia and photographs from her parents’ trip to America in 1939. The Queen gave the Obamas a collection of letters exchanged between previous British monarchs and American presidents. On the queen’s 90th birthday, Obama affectionately said “she is one of my favorite people.”
12. Donald Trump, 2018
Donald Trump first met Queen Elizabeth in July of 2018. Upon arrival, President Trump was met with huge demonstrations, as 250,000 people turned out to protest his visit. During his 2018 visit, Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump had tea at Windsor Castle. Trump largely avoided London during this visit because of the protests going on.
In 2019, President Trump returned to Britain on an official state visit and joined Queen Elizabeth II once again. After this visit, Trump said that “Her Majesty has never had so much fun as she did during [this 2019 visit].”
13. Joe Biden, 2021
Current US President Joe Biden met Queen Elizabeth on June 13, 2021. However, even before this official meeting, the queen and President Biden were in touch. The meeting of President Biden and Queen Elizabeth was part of the 2021 G7 summit.
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Queen Elizabeth II sent Biden a private message of congratulations ahead of his inauguration and the president sent a message of condolences to the Queen after Prince Philip passed away in April of 2021.