Politics

A look at the queen’s history-making visits with American presidents

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will share afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Sunday. But while that gathering will be a first for the first couple, the queen’s encounters with American presidents and their wives is a piece of history all its own.

In her nearly 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth may have met more U.S. presidents than anyone else alive today.

Some were a bit out of order. She met the nation’s 31st president, Herbert Hoover, at a 1957 luncheon — 24 years after he left office.

And she was only Princess Elizabeth when she and her late husband met President Harry Truman in Washington, on behalf of her father, King George.

Truman And Elizabeth II
American President Harry Truman and Elizabeth II in the back of the Lincoln Cosmopolitan Presidential state car, Washington, D.C., October 31, 1951.

Image courtesy National Archives/Getty Images


But most of the encounters have been as queen, and with a sitting president — including a 1959 visit by Dwight Eisenhower to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, a 1961 state dinner at Buckingham Palace for John and Jackie Kennedy, and a 1969 palace tour for President Richard Nixon.

In 1976, President Ford played host, waltzing with Queen Elizabeth at the White House to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.

Jimmy Carter also made quite an impression on the queen and her mother. During a 1977 Buckingham Palace state dinner — instead of bowing his head or shaking the queen mother’s hand, he decided to kiss her right on the lips.

Politics - World Leaders at Buckingham Palace, London
President Jimmy Carter (second right) speaks with Her Majesties The Queen and the Queen Mother as Prince Philip and Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (r) look on in the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.

PA Images/ Contributor/Getty


Ronald Reagan, a personal favorite of her majesty, bonded with the queen over their mutual love of horses. 

And in 1991, President George H.W. Bush took the royal couple to one of America’s favorite pastimes: a baseball game, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each met with the queen and Prince Philip on numerous occasions, without any major breaches of royal protocol.

BRITAIN-CLINTONS-QUEEN
President Bill Clinton talks with Elizabeth II along with the first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea at the Garden Entrance of Buckingham Palace, December, 14, 2000 in London, England.

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images


Unfortunately, more recent presidents weren’t so lucky. 

While toasting the monarch at a 2009 state dinner, President Obama kept right on talking as the band played the British national anthem.

And most recently, Donald Trump drew some raised British eyebrows when he walked ahead of the queen during their 2018 visit.

Queen Presidents
In this July 13, 2018, photo President Donald Trump and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II inspect a Guard of Honour, formed of the Coldstream Guards at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England.

Matt Dunham/AP


Only time will tell if the Biden’s encounter will have any awkward moments — or be as smooth as a cup of Earl Grey. 


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