President Donald Trump’s state visit to the U.K. began Monday amid fresh blows in his ongoing feud with London mayor Sadiq Khan, dispute over his comments about Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, and protests in several cities condemning the U.K.’s red-carpet treatment of the president. One of the most controversial aspects of the three-day trip is Trump’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and the extravagant state dinner planned for Monday night — which will make him the third U.S. president in history to make an official state visit to Britain.
Trump, who first met the Queen on an official visit in 2018, is part of a long line of U.S. leaders who have met the world’s longest-reigning monarch since her coronation in 1952. The Queen has met 10 of the eleven U.S. presidents who have held office since then—all except Lyndon B. Johnson, who only made state visits to Asia during his time in office. Below, a timeline of what happened during the Queen’s previous meetings with American leaders.
Harry Truman – October 31, 1951
Elizabeth was not yet queen when, at the age of 25, the princess first met an American president. Harry Truman and his wife Bess hosted Elizabeth and Prince Philip on a two-day visit to Washington D.C. Acting on behalf of her father King George VI, who was gravely ill at the time, Elizabeth gave Truman an ornate 18th-century ‘over mantle’ to hang above a fireplace in the White House, as Pathé newsreel from the time shows. The president said that, while he had received many guests in Washington, “never before have we had such a wonderful young couple, who have so completely captured the hearts of all of us.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower – October 17, 1957
Four years after she was crowned, Queen Elizabeth made her first state visit to the U.S., midway through Dwight D. Eisenhower’s two terms as president. The visit came during the Cold War—a crucial time for the U.S.-U.K alliance. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was also in town for urgent talks with the American leadership. The Queen, though, found time for more lighthearted events, as chronicled by LIFE Magazine, including a state dinner, a visit to Jamestown, Va.—site of the first British settlement in America—and her first American college football game. She also met former President Herbert Hoover at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Two years later Elizabeth hosted Eisenhower at Balmoral.
John F. Kennedy – June 15, 1961
Half a million people turned out to greet President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline when they arrived in London for a visit in 1961, just a few months after Kennedy’s inauguration. Netflix series The Crown recreated the visit in its second season, making much of the First Lady’s alleged criticisms of the Queen’s old-fashioned style. The royals hosted the Kennedys at a lavish state dinner at Buckingham Palace and the President later wrote to the Queen saying he would “always cherish the memory of that delightful evening.”
Richard Nixon – February 15, 1969
The Queen had already met Nixon in 1957 when he was Vice President under Eisenhower. But their first meeting as two heads of state took place in 1969 when Nixon made an informal visit to the U.K., shortly after taking office. The Queen and Prince Philip hosted him at Buckingham Palace and exchanged signed photos of themselves, while a television crew captured the occasion for a documentary called the Royal Family, broadcast later that year.
Gerald Ford – July 17, 1976
Shortly after the 200th anniversary of America’s declaration of independence from Britain, the Queen came to Washington to celebrate the continuing relationship between the two countries with a state dinner hosted by Gerald Ford and his wife Betty. The pair shared a dance and the President promised the Queen, “the United States [has] never forgotten its British heritage.” First Lady Betty Ford later wrote in her memoir that “the Queen was easy to deal with” and “If I hadn’t kept mixing up Your Highness and Your Majesty (he’s His Highness, she’s Her Majesty) I’d give myself four stars for the way that visit went off.”
Jimmy Carter – May 7, 1977
A year after her visit for the American Independence Bicentennial, the Queen hosted President Jimmy Carter at Buckingham Palace for a dinner with other heads of state during a NATO summit. Carter famously broke royal protocol by kissing the Queen Mother on the lips. She was apparently mortified, saying “Nobody has done that since my husband died.”
Ronald Reagan – June 7, 1982
In 1982, traveling with his wife Nancy, Ronald Reagan became the first American president to stay overnight at Windsor Castle—which Trump is set to visit after spending the night at the U.S. ambassador’s home in central London. It was the first of three trips the Reagans made to see the Queen in the U.K., and she also visited their ranch near Santa Barbara, Ca., in 1983. Reagan wrote in his memoir that the 1982 trip was a “fairytale visit” and one of the most “fun” moments of his presidency. He said the highlight was horseback riding with Elizabeth while Nancy and Philip rode in a horse-drawn carriage. “I must admit, the Queen is quite an accomplished horsewoman,” he wrote.
George H.W. Bush – June 1, 1989
George H.W. Bush first met the Queen in 1989 in London. During the visit, Bush also met Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who, he wrote disparagingly in his memoir, gave him “a lecture on freedom.” Elizabeth, meanwhile, took the Bushes on a tour of Buckingham Palace. The Queen reciprocated the visit with a trip to Washington two years later.
Bill Clinton – June 4, 1994
President Clinton made several visits to the U.K. during his presidency, in part because of his involvement in the peace process in Northern Ireland. He first met the Queen at a banquet honoring the 50th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day in the city of Portsmouth, southern England. Six years later the Queen hosted Bill, Hilary and Chelsea at Buckingham Palace for tea.
George W. Bush – November 21, 2003
George W. Bush first met the Queen over lunch at Buckingham Palace during a six-day European tour in 2001 and in 2003 became the first U.S. president to make an official state visit to the U.K. It was the Queen’s most controversial meeting with an American president—until Trump. To coincide with Bush’s visit in November, around 100,000 people took to the streets to protest the Iraq War, reportedly costing the U.K. millions in security spending during the three-day visit. The demonstration culminated with protesters toppling an effigy of Bush, recalling scenes of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad six months earlier. George and Laura Bush were treated to a 41-gun salute and later attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Barack Obama – May 24, 2011
Barack and Michelle Obama met Elizabeth and Philip on a state visit in 2011. The Obamas presented her with a set of memorabilia and photographs from her parents’ trip to the U.S. in 1939. In return, she gave them a collection of letters exchanged between previous monarchs and U.S. presidents. Looking at the letters relating to the American Revolution, Obama joked, “That was only a temporary blip in the relationship.” The Obamas met the Queen twice more and on her 90th birthday the president said, “She is truly one of my favorite people.”
Donald Trump – July 13, 2018
President Trump first met the Queen on an official visit in 2018, when they had tea at Windsor Castle. He largely avoided London, where tens of thousands of protesters turned out to criticize his rhetoric and policy on issues including migration, gender and LGBTQ rights.
On his 2019 visit, the President and first Lady will spend more time with the Royals than they did the year before — though with protests again planned around the country, most of the visit will take place behind closed doors. They flew by helicopter to Buckingham Palace on Monday and were greeted by the Queen, Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. The couple shook hands with the Queen before heading inside for a private lunch.
Later, the Trumps will dine with the royals and some 170 guests with ties to the U.S. in the grand ballroom of Buckingham Palace. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, will not attend as she is on maternity leave after giving birth to her first child last month. Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May will go to the dinner. But leaders of the U.K.’s main opposition parties — Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrats’ Vince Cable — have declined to attend.
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