Queen Elizabeth II and 13 US presidents - a timeline

Late British monarch's humour well received by America's former leaders

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Queen Elizabeth II dies — follow the latest news as the world mourns

In a remarkable example of her longevity, the late Queen Elizabeth II, the UK's longest-serving monarch, met all but one of 14 US presidents during her reign.

Her last official meeting with a US leader came in 2021, when she received President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle.

Unlike most of her contemporaries, the queen did not use social media and rarely, if ever, shared her thoughts on politics — though she did keep a diary. How she really felt about the American leaders she met may eventually come to light, but not anytime soon, as her personal papers will be under lock and key for many years to come.

Here's a look back at every meeting Queen Elizabeth had with America's leaders.

Harry S Truman, in office 1945-1953

A year before ascending the throne, the future monarch was welcomed by president Harry S Truman at the White House.

Truman was reported to have said to her after the visit: “When you leave, you will like us even better than when you came.”

Dwight D Eisenhower, in office 1953-1961

The queen slept in the suite that her mother and father, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, had slumbered in when making her second visit to the White House in 1957, this time as a guest of Dwight D Eisenhower.

Eisenhower had a particular affinity for the queen's drop scones — so much so that, in 1960, she mailed him a handwritten note outlining her recipe for the treat.

The queen signed the letter as “Elizabeth R” and it was written on Buckingham Palace letterhead, documents from the National Archives show.

Before her visit, Eisenhower had served as a commander in the Allied forces during the Second World War and received a medal from King George VI.

John F Kennedy, in office 1961-1963

John F Kennedy's visit to Buckingham Palace in 1961 reportedly got off to a rough start. US media reported that the queen was displeased with first lady Jackie Kennedy's request that her brother-in-law — twice a divorcee — attend dinner.

“The queen’s resentment was real,” The Washington Post reported, citing a royal author.

Queen Elizabeth with former US president John F Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy. AP

Upon returning to the US, Kennedy sent the queen a birthday letter on behalf of himself and his wife.

“We shall always cherish the memory of that delightful evening,” Kennedy wrote.

Following Kennedy’s assassination, which occurred five months after the visit, the queen sent a letter of condolence but could not travel to the funeral as she was heavily pregnant with Prince Andrew.

The queen did not meet Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson — though she did meet his wife, Lady Bird, in 1991.

Richard Nixon, in office 1969-1974

Richard Nixon and first lady Pat Nixon visited Buckingham Palace in 1969 and returned in 1970.

While in the UK, they visited Chequers, the country home of the British prime minister at the time, Edward Heath.

Gerald Ford, in office 1974-1977

One of the most striking images of the queen's engagements with US presidents came in 1976, when Gerald Ford hosted the monarch for the bicentennial signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Wearing a diamond-studded tiara, Queen Elizabeth danced with Ford in the State Room of the White House as the Marine band played The Lady Is a Tramp.

Gerald Ford dances with Queen Elizabeth during the state dinner at the White House in Washington. AP

Jimmy Carter, in office 1977-1981

Jimmy Carter visited Buckingham Palace as part of a dinner with Nato leaders during his first overseas visit as US president.

When the former peanut farmer met the queen mother, instead of shaking her hand, he went in for a kiss.

Ronald Reagan, in office 1981-1989

With a shared love of horses, Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan went horseback riding when the Republican president was received at Windsor Castle in 1982.

Ronald Reagan goes horseback riding with Queen Elizabeth in Windsor Home Park, 1982. PA

The monarch's 1983 tour of the West Coast was hampered by rain, which spoilt her and Reagan's plans for horseback riding in Santa Barbara, California.

“I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States, I had not realised before that weather was one of them,” she later quipped during a dinner event in San Francisco.

George HW Bush, in office 1989-1993

The queen experienced an awkward moment during her third state trip to the US in 1991.

Only her white-striped purple hat could be seen when she addressed the crowd during her arrival ceremony at the White House, as someone had forgotten to lower the microphone after George HW Bush spoke.

“I do hope you can see me today from where you are,” she later joked during a joint address to Congress. Bush later expressed his regret at not thinking to pull out a step for her.

Bush also took Queen Elizabeth to a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Memorial Stadium.

Bill Clinton, in office 1993-2001

Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton were hosted by Queen Elizabeth on her yacht, Britannia.

The ship became the home base for the couple as they participated in a dinner at Guildhall in Portsmouth for leaders of Allied nations whose troops participated in the D-Day invasion in 1944.

George W Bush, in office 2001-2009

The queen's well-documented sense of humour was on display again during a toast at the UK embassy in Washington in 2007.

During her trip to the US, George W Bush mistakenly said she and his predecessors had helped the US “celebrate its bicentennial in 17-” before he cut himself off, realising his mistake.

“I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776,’” she said to laughter from the crowd and Mr Bush.

Barack Obama, in office 2009-2017

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip hosted an audience with Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during the president's visit to London as part of the Group of 20 Summit in 2009.

Ms Obama briefly broke protocol when she put her arm gently on the queen's shoulder. Though touching the queen was considered to be off-limits, Queen Elizabeth returned the gesture by placing her hand on the first lady's back.

“Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as president and first lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity,” Mr Obama said in a statement on Thursday.

The couples saw each other again in 2011 and in 2016.

Queen Elizabeth with former US president Barack Obama, the only US president to be invited back to Buckingham Palace after his term was completed. AFP

Mr Obama said the queen was “one of my favourite people”.

The Obamas were the only first couple to be received by the queen at Buckingham Palace after leaving the White House and he once gave her iPod loaded with his favourite songs.

Donald Trump, in office 2017-2021

Former president Donald Trump notoriously broke royal etiquette during a state visit to the UK in 2018. The incident occurred during an engagement at Windsor Castle during which the two inspected the Guard of Honour.

The queen appeared to gesture to Mr Trump where to walk, but the president proceeded to walk directly in front of her. The seconds-long episode ended after the queen returned to where she originally was at the start of the inspection.

The following year, Mr Trump praised the “eternal friendship” between the US and UK during a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

Joe Biden, in office 2021-Present

Mr Biden first met Queen Elizabeth in 1982 when he served as a US senator, the president said in a statement on Thursday.

He and Ms Biden were received by the late monarch last year, when Mr Biden said they were charmed by her “wit, moved us with her kindness and generously shared with us her wisdom”.

Updated: September 09, 2022, 8:57 PM
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL