Queen Elizabeth II has ruled over the British Monarchy since 1952 – making her 66-year rule the longest in history. At 92, she shows no sign of slowing down as she continues to attend royal events around the world.
No greater privilege for American presidents exists than to meet her majesty. To date, she has met with or hosted 12 out of the 13 during her reign (somehow missing Lyndon B. Johnson). Here, we break down some of the most iconic photographs of Queen Elizabeth II meeting America’s Head of State and Commander-in-Chief.
1951: Harry Truman
Our journey begins 67 years ago: one year before she was destined to take the throne. As a then-princess at 25, she met with President Truman in the states. The meeting was far less formal than future events, even though it was clear she would one day become the Queen. It was a fairly relaxed meeting, and President Truman took her on a road on his motorcade, claiming “Never before have we had such a wonderful young couple, who have so completely captured the hearts of all of us”.
1957: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Queen Elizabeth was coronated in 1953 and soon after, she met with President Eisenhower on her first royal trip to the US as Queen. The two had first met when Elizabeth was still only a princess, and while tensions were high during the Cold War. During the visit, an American congressman screamed out, “we have all fallen in love with the Queen, Ike!” It looks as though Queen Elizabeth had her diplomacy skills down to a tee!
1961: John F. Kennedy
In an evening made famous by Netflix’s The Crown, America’s first family stayed at Buckingham Palace soon after President Kennedy was inaugurated. 500,000 people in the streets cheers for the US First Family who attended a banquet held in their honor. The dinner demonstrated a youthful leadership and relationship between the two nations. According to reports, the night was full of drama only suitable for a television show! Unfortunately, they never met again before his death in 1963.
1969: Richard Nixon
Since Queen Elizabeth never met with President Johnson during his six-year tenure, her next president was Richard Nixon. They had already met while he was Vice-President to Dwight Eisenhower and appeared to get on well together. Compared to the dinner for the Kennedys, it was a relatively low-key affair where the Nixons visited Buckingham Palace and had some tea. It is said that President Nixon was so fascinated by the British Monarchy that he returned a year later for a formal state visit.
1976: Gerald Ford
The Queen and US President Ford shared a famous dance together in 1976 to celebrate America’s bicentennial celebration. During the country’s 200th birthday, he claimed: “The United States [has] never forgotten its British heritage.” He later rated his performance as four stars out of five, after accidentally calling her Your Highness. The two appeared to get on well together while he was in office and the dance remains one of the nicest symbolic moments shared between America and Britain.
1977: Jimmy Carter
The following year, Queen Elizabeth met with Jimmy Carter leading to some questionable diplomatic results. The president was known for his southern charm and massively broke royal protocol by greeting the Queen Mother with a kiss directly on the lips. She was absolutely disgusted and screamed, “Nobody has done that since my husband died!” There are no obligatory ways to greet the Queen, but men usually nod their head or bow. Another visit did not take place afterward.
1982: Ronald Regan
A series of photos to capture hearts and minds, Queen Elizabeth and President Regan posed for photographs while they went horseriding together. The photos became iconic and symbolized the ‘special relationship’ between the two states. It was the first time that a US President stayed overnight at Windsor Castle, and helped repair some of the diplomatic damage caused by his predecessor. He later described the trip as a ‘fairytale visit’ in his memoir and said it was one of his favorite experiences while holding office.
1989: George Bush
The Queen met Bush 41 a few times in his four-year run as US President. While visiting London, President Bush also met with then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It is said that the president and Queen did not share the same relationship at President Regan, but diplomatic ties remained strong regardless. Later, Queen Elizabeth went stateside and the Bushes took her to an all-American baseball game in Maryland. At 65, the Queen had the time of her life!
1995: Bill Clinton
It is common for US presidents to get briefed on how to act in front of the Royal Family to help avoid any embarrassing slip-ups. President Clinton met with Queen Elizabeth several times during his eight years in office. There was a banquet held for the 50th anniversary of WWII’s D-Day. Their times were relatively uneventful, except for former first lady Hillary Clinton, who accidentally sent the Queen a birthday card one week early ahead of the planned schedule.
2003: George W. Bush
Only a few years after meeting one Republican president, the Queen met his successor (and son!) George W. Bush. His visit to London was met with 100,000 protesters due to America and Britain’s entrance into Afghanistan and Iraq. However, once the Bushes arrived at Buckingham Palace, the president and first lady were honored with a 41-gun salute. It appears that the British and American bond remained strong – even in more pressing times.
2011: Barack Obama
President Obama met with Queen Elizabeth a few times during his two-term presidency and was known to be smitten for the British Monarchy. There were state dinners in banquet halls, and President Obama was the first sitting US president to address the British Parliament. Unfortunately, he also broke protocol when he accidentally spoke over the British National Anthem. He later clarified that he thought it was back-up music to his toast. First lady Michelle Obama also accidentally touched the Queen, which is forbidden.
2018: Donald Trump
Perhaps the most controversial president to meet with Queen Elizabeth was Donald Trump. He visited the royal family at Windsor Castle in the summer of 2018. Together, they watched a military parade and shared teatime for over an hour. Although the Queen doesn’t formally comment on diplomatic matters, President Trump called her a ‘tremendous woman’. More than 250,000 Brits protested in the streets during the president’s visit, but it didn’t stop the two from meeting. It is unknown if there are plans to meet again.