From Truman to Biden, the queen’s meetings with presidents were formal, fun or awkward

by | Sep 12, 2022 | Top Stories

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Princess Elizabeth and President Harry Truman smile from an open auto at National Airport on Oct. 31, 1951 in Washington, D.C.

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The death of Queen Elizabeth II closes a chapter in British history that lasted seven decades. But beyond the years, there’s another way to mark her reign: in her lifetime, the queen met with a procession of 13 different U.S. presidents. The names and faces of the American head of state kept changing — while the queen and her crown remained a constant. Her title was still Princess Elizabeth when she arrived in America for the first time in October 1951. Dignitaries on hand to meet the future queen on the crowded tarmac at Washington National Airport included President Harry Truman. “It certainly is a very great pleasure for me as president of the United States to welcome you to the capital of our country,” Truman said, adding, “I think your visit will improve — if that is possible — the cordial relations that exist between our two great countries, and I hope that while you are here you will have a very enjoyable time.” The 25-year-old Elizabeth — with husband Philip by her side — was there to represent her ailing father, King George VI.

Just months later, she’d be crowned queen. Her next trip to America came in 1957 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted her at a state dinner at the White House.

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President Dwight Eisenhower and first lady Mamie Eisenhower are joined by their royal guests, Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, at the White House on Oct. 17, 1957.

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Eisenhower — dressed in white-tie and tails for the formal event — also wore a medal around his neck that the late King George VI had awarded him in recognition of his role as commander of allied forces in Europe during World War II. John F. Kennedy was the first president Elizabeth hosted News footage from 1961 shows the young president and first lady riding through London streets in an open top limousine. Crowds can be seen pressing forward, trying to get a closer look.

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The Kennedys were invited to Buckingham Palace for dinner. Photos show the queen, Prince Philip and the Kennedys posing, all dressed in formal wear. But the visit has long been reported to have been more than a bit awkward. There are stories of a queen jealous of the glamourous Jacqueline Kennedy. In fact, the encounter inspired the story-line for an episode of the Netflix Series, The Crown in 2017 — with the drama enhanced to be sure.

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