From Eisenhower to Biden, the Queen has met every US president except 1
WASHINGTON– Riding with Ronald Reagan. Yachting with Bill Clinton. Sipping tea with Joe Biden.
Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at 96, had met every US president since Dwight Eisenhower except Lyndon Johnson, who did not visit Britain during his presidency. Biden was the 13th and last US president to meet the woman whose rule spanned seven decades.
All of the living former US presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump – have joined Biden in mourning his passing and sending condolences to his family.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said the “Queen’s legacy will loom large in the pages of British history and in the history of our world.”
Obama and his wife, Michelle, recalled that the Queen welcomed them, the first black president and the first lady of the United States, to the world stage “with open arms and extraordinary generosity”.
Biden first met the Queen in 1982 as a US senator traveling to the UK with a congressional delegation. He last saw her in 2021, several months after becoming president, while attending a summit of world leaders in south-west England.
She mingled with the leaders of the Group of Seven at a reception she and other members of the royal family hosted in an indoor rainforest. After the summit, the Bidens traveled to Windsor Castle, near London, at the Queen’s invitation for a private audience.
The Queen was a 25-year-old princess when she came to Washington in 1951 and stayed with President Harry Truman and his family. She met Herbert Hoover in 1957, more than 20 years after leaving office.
Here are highlights of some of his meetings, on both sides of the pond, with former US presidents:
Biden and his trademark aviator sunglasses met the Queen at Windsor Castle on a sweltering afternoon in June 2021.
Biden got out of a black car wearing his sunglasses, stepped onto a covered dais where the Queen was waiting and, along with his wife, posed with the Queen as the national anthems of both countries played.
After walking around the courtyard to inspect the honor guard, he entered the castle for tea.
Back at the airport, Biden told reporters the queen was “very kind” and asked him about the leaders of China and Russia.
Although it is generally frowned upon to discuss his private talks with the Queen, Biden continued.
“I don’t think she will be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother,” he said.
Biden said he also invited the Queen to visit the White House.
Trump and the Queen met in July 2018 at Windsor Castle during a visit to Britain that drew large anti-Trump protests in central London, including the hoisting of a balloon depicting Trump in a diaper.
He was criticized for breaking protocol by walking briefly in front of the Queen – instead of being beside her – and turning his back on her as they reviewed an honor guard.
Trump later said he was thinking of his late mother, Mary Anne, who was born in Scotland and loved the royal family, when he and his wife, Melania, sipped tea with the Queen.
Trump’s later comment that the Queen told him Brexit – Britain’s break with the European Union – was complex also caused a stir. Most heads of state do not reveal their private conversations with the Queen. She also does not discuss political issues.
The Trumps and the royal family met again during the D-Day commemoration in 2019.
Obama and the Queen had their first of three meetings in April 2009 at a reception for world leaders attending the Group of 20 nations summit in London.
This is where First Lady Michelle Obama broke protocol by briefly putting an arm around the Queen’s back as she commiserated over her sore feet. It’s usually a no-no to touch the Queen, but she returned Mrs. Obama’s gesture.
The Queen invited the Obamas for a state visit in 2011 which included a two-night stay at Buckingham Palace and a lavish banquet in honor of the President.
As Obama toasted the Queen, he didn’t miss a beat when the band assumed a pause in his remarks meant he had wrapped up and kicked off a rendition of “God Save the Queen.” Obama continued talking over the music until the group quieted down.
The couples saw each other again in 2016 when Obama visited the Queen at Windsor Castle a day after her 90th birthday during another trip through Europe.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Bush hated stuffy, formal business, but he donned a white tailed tuxedo after the Queen pulled out all the stops for a state dinner in his honor at Buckingham Palace in November 2003.
A few years later, Bush’s slip caused ripples of laughter at a White House welcoming ceremony for the Queen, who was on a tour of the United States in May 2007.
Stumbling over a line in his speech, Bush said the Queen dined with several of her predecessors and helped the United States “celebrate its bicentennial in 17-…” Bush caught up and corrected the date to 1976, and stopped to see if she got offended.
“She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child,” Bush said with a smile.
The Queen then turned things around with Bush with her toast at a dinner she hosted for the President at the British Embassy in Washington.
“I was wondering if I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776,'” she laughed.
The Queen welcomed Clinton and his wife, Hillary, aboard her royal yacht, Britannia, in June 1994.
The ship, 412ft (125m) long and 55ft (17m) wide, was moored at Portsmouth Naval Base and was the base for the Clintons as they attended the Queen’s Dinner at Guildhall to the leaders of the Allied nations whose troops participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy 50 years earlier.
The Clintons spent a night aboard the boat. The following day, the Britannia carried Clinton to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington as she prepared to sail across the English Channel from Portsmouth to Normandy for D-Day anniversary celebrations.
GEORGE HW BUSH
One of the most memorable images from the monarch’s third state visit to the United States came in 1991, when only her white-striped purple hat could be seen above the microphones as she spoke during of an arrival ceremony on the grounds of the White House.
Someone forgot to adjust the desk after the much taller Bush spoke.
The Queen remained strong and carried on, later shedding light on the incident by opening a speech at a joint meeting of Congress.
“I hope you can see me today from where you are,” she deadpanned. Bush later apologized and said he felt bad for not taking a step so she could stand.
Reagan and the Queen bonded over a mutual love of horseback riding.
They rode side by side on an 8-mile (13 kilometer) one-hour tour of the grounds of Windsor Castle when Reagan visited in June 1982. Reagan was the first president to sleep in the house historic building of the British royal family, an 11th century estate overlooking the Thames.
In the United States in 1983, the monarch and Philip stayed with President and First Lady Nancy Reagan at their ranch in Santa Barbara, California. She wanted to ride again, but a storm wouldn’t let her. The Reagans served a lunch of regional staples, including enchiladas, relleno peppers, refried beans, tacos, rice and guacamole.
They also hosted a State Dinner for the Queen in San Francisco at the MH de Young Memorial Museum.
The Queen welcomed Carter in May 1977 on her first overseas trip to a dinner for NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace. At one point, as Carter stood with the Queen and other guests, he noticed the Queen Mother arriving.
Ever the Southern gentleman, Carter broke away, took her by the hand, and escorted her to the gathered line of guests.
The no-frills Georgia peanut farmer-turned-president ate chicken mousse from a gold plate and looked excited about his dinner between the Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, and in front of her son, Prince Charles , Prince Philip and the Queen Mother .
Ford hosted a gala dinner for the British in 1976 to mark the bicentenary of the American Revolution. The Queen looked resplendent in a diamond-encrusted tiara that sparkled for a crowd of diplomats, star athletes and celebrities such as Cary Grant and Julie Harris.
The mood evaporated as Ford led the Queen onto the dance floor as the song “The Lady Is a Tramp” echoed throughout the State Dining Room.
Associated Press writers Danica Kirka in London and Nancy Benac in Washington and AP News researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.