Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, met with 13 sitting U.S. presidents during her lifetime, kindling a string of cordial relationships that helped strengthen the ties between the two nations. She died Thursday at age 96.
Harry Truman said she “captured the hearts” of the American public, while Barack Obama called her “truly one of my favorite people.”
Lyndon Johnson is the only one among the last 14 presidents whom she didn’t meet.
Here’s a look at the late queen’s history with U.S. presidents — including a few diplomatic faux pas.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
In 1951, Harry S. Truman greeted then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Washington National Airport when she arrived in the U.S. on Halloween for a two-day stay in the nation’s capital.
“We have many distinguished visitors here in this city, but never before have we had such a wonderful young couple that so completely captured the hearts of all of us,” Truman told the pair at an event in the Rose Garden. “We want you to come back again.”
Dwight Eisenhower, who was awarded a medal by Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, for his work as allied commander during World War II, hosted a state dinner in the queen’s honor in October 1957.
The queen reciprocated by hosting Eisenhower at Balmoral Castle, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where he raved about her drop scones, which are essentially British pancakes. The queen later sent Eisenhower the recipe.
In June 1961, the queen hosted John Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, for a dinner at Buckingham Palace during the couple’s trip to London. The visit got off to a rocky start. The queen was reportedly upset about the first lady’s request that her sister and brother-in-law, who had been divorced twice, attend, while Jacqueline Kennedy later complained about the absence of two royals she’d hoped to meet, Princesses Margaret and Marina.
Nevertheless, the president sent the queen a birthday letter after they returned to the U.S., telling her “how grateful my wife and I are for the cordial hospitality offered to us by your Majesty and Prince Philip during our visit to London.” John Kennedy wrote, “We shall always cherish the memory of that delightful evening.”
Richard Nixon first met the queen in 1957, when she visited the U.S. They met again a year later at the U.S. Embassy in London, when the then-vice president under Eisenhower hosted a reception in her honor. The Associated Press reported that Nixon was “wearing a borrowed tuxedo that did not fit” and “the Queen seemed not to notice.”
Nixon returned to the U.K. in 1969 as president, and the queen hosted him at an event in Buckingham Palace. The Nixons played host to Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles at the White House the following year. “That was the time they were trying to marry me off to Tricia Nixon,” Charles later told CNN, referring to Nixon’s daughter.
Gerald and Betty Ford hosted the queen for a state dinner at the White House in July 1976, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. declaring independence. The president made unfortunate headlines when he asked the queen to dance to the song, “The Lady Is a Tramp.” In her memoir, Betty Ford wrote, “The Queen was easy to deal with.”
To ensure a successful dinner, comedian Bob Hope and “Kojak” star Telly Savalas were invited because the queen “loves” them, Betty Ford wrote. Both attended. She added that “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.”
The queen hosted Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter at Buckingham Palace in 1977, when the president was attending a NATO summit in London. The dinner was best remembered for an incident in which Carter allegedly kissed the Queen Mother on the lips when they were introduced. “He is the only man, since my dear husband died, to have had the effrontery to kiss me on the lips,” she reportedly said afterward.
The Washington Post reported that Carter maintained he’d kissed her on the cheek and that the British press had “grossly distorted” the event.
Ronald Reagan was the first president invited to stay at Windsor Castle — an experience he described in his memoir “An American Life” as “a fairy-tale visit.”
“The highlight of our stay there came when the queen and I went horseback riding together,” Reagan wrote. “I must admit the queen is quite an accomplished horsewoman.”
The Reagans visited the royal family two more times during his presidency, and he hosted the queen and Prince Philip at his ranch in California in 1983. Their arrival was delayed by a rainstorm that made the trip up the mountain treacherous. Reagan apologized for the weather, and said the queen replied, “Yes, if it was just dreary, but this is an adventure.”
GEORGE H.W. BUSH
The queen gave George and Barbara Bush a tour of Buckingham Palace during a visit in 1989, and then they welcomed the queen to the White House for a state dinner in 1991. The Bushes also took the royal couple to a baseball game — an Orioles-Athletics game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Bill Clinton first met the queen in 1994, at a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day. He and his wife, Hillary Clinton, stayed overnight on her royal yacht Britannia.
The Clintons made other trips to the United Kingdom during his eight years in office, but turned down an offer to have tea with the queen at Buckingham Palace in 1997 because, according to British government memos obtained by CNN, the president wanted to “be a tourist” and visit a garden and some shops. The Clintons and their daughter, Chelsea, did wind up having tea with the queen at the palace shortly before he left office, in December 2000.
GEORGE W. BUSH
As his father had done 16 years earlier, George W. Bush hosted the queen for a state dinner in 2007.
“The American people are proud to welcome Your Majesty back to the United States, a nation you’ve come to know very well. After all, you’ve dined with ten U.S. presidents,” he said in welcoming remarks at the White House. “You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17- in 1976,” Bush said, correcting himself as he spoke. He then paused and looked at the queen before telling the assembled crowd, “She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.”
Barack and Michelle Obama first met the queen during a visit in 2009, where the first lady was accused of breaching protocol by placing her hand on the queen’s back as they walked.
In her book “Becoming,” Michelle Obama said she found out later that she “was committing what would be deemed an epic faux pas,” but the queen appeared “okay with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back.”
Donald and Melania Trump were invited to have tea with the queen in 2018 at Windsor Castle. During the event, the president breached protocol by briefly walking in front of her as they were inspecting her honor guard.
Nevertheless, the Trumps were invited back for a state dinner at Buckingham Palace the following year. “There are those that say they have never seen the queen have a better time, a more animated time,” Trump told Fox News afterward.
The queen welcomed Joe and Jill Biden to Windsor Castle last June. They were greeted with an official guard of honor military parade at the castle, located about 30 miles outside of London, before going inside for tea. The president said afterward that the queen had been “very gracious” and “I don’t think she’ll be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother.”