Elizabeth II and her 14 US presidents: a special relationship | International

She danced with Gerald Ford, rode a horse with Ronald Reagan, who praised her equestrian skills, and planted a tree on the White House lawn with Jimmy Carter. During the seven decades of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II of England coincided with 14 American presidents and saw each one of them, with the sole exception of Lyndon B. Johnson. She maintained a true personal harmony with some, such as with Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. With others, like President Donald Trump, her smiles were far less warm.

The link between the sovereign and the United States was always intense, a reflection of the special relationship between the former metropolis and its first independent colony. Isabel II participated in key commemorations in the history of the United States, from the two hundredth anniversary of the declaration of independence, which was celebrated in 1976, to the acts in memory of the foundation of the first British colony on North American soil, Jamestown; her solidarity speech after the 9/11 attacks moved the inhabitants of a shocked country. The sovereign had always been very popular in a country that has republicanism engraved in its genetic code, but always fascinated by the news of the British royal family. Elizabeth II was, according to all polls, the most beloved living member of the Windsors among the American public, although year after year on the popularity charts she surpassed Diana of Wales, who died in 1997.

“She was the first British sovereign with whom people around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection,” US President Joe Biden said Thursday in a condolence statement signed with his wife, Jill Biden. “Queen Elizabeth II was a statesman of peerless dignity and steadfastness, who deepened the unbreakable alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom. She contributed to making it a special relationship.”

The current occupant of the White House has ordered that the American flag be flown at half-staff on official buildings on the day of the royal burial. Elizabeth II “flaunted solidarity with the United States during our darkest days after 9/11, when she emotionally reminded us that ‘pain is the price we pay for love,'” Biden said.

Other former presidents who knew her during her tenure have also been quick to send their condolences. “Michelle and I were fortunate enough to get to know Her Majesty, and she meant a lot to us,” said Barack Obama, perhaps the president with whom her personal connection was most evident. “When we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us onto the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity. Time and time again we were struck by her warmth, the way she made people feel comfortable around her, and how she utilized her considerable charm and humor in moments of greatest pomp and circumstance.”

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“Melania and I will always fondly remember our times with the Queen, and we will never forget Her Majesty’s generous friendship, great wisdom and wonderful sense of humour. What a beautiful and elegant lady, there has been no one like her! ”, Wrote Donald Trump, who attended with his wife a state dinner in her honor at Buckingham Palace in 2019.

Although, judging by the photos of that time, the harmony between the two leaders was limited. The images, turned into meme meat on social networks when they were published, show both looking at the cameras with a serious expression, that of Queen Elizabeth II unusually stern.

The first American president with whom the then still Princess Elizabeth dealt officially was Harry Truman in 1951, whom she visited in Washington, on a trip with her husband, Prince Philip, a year before his accession to the throne.

Six years later it was Dwight Eisenhower —decorated by the sovereign’s father, George VI— and his wife, Mamie, who received the already queen at the White House. Elizabeth II returned the invitation by receiving the war hero at Balmoral Castle, the Scottish summer residence that she adored and in which she died this Thursday. During his visit, Ike raved about the drop scones -a type of pancake typical of Scotland-. Upon their return to the United States, they received the personal recipe sent by Her Majesty.

A little more eventful, according to gossip at the time, was the reception for John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline at Buckingham Palace. The sovereign was not very amused, it seems, that Jackie asked her sister and her brother-in-law, both divorced from her, to be invited. And the first lady was disappointed by the absence of two royals whom he wanted to meet, Princess Margaret and Princess Marina. Although the coldness that could have been generated was soon dissolved: from Washington, JFK sent the queen a message of thanks in which he assured: “We will always carry the memory of that delicious evening in our hearts.”

Controversy also caused Gerald Ford to ask her to dance in 1976 during a gala dinner at the White House. The reason? The song that was playing, by Frank Sinatra, “The Lady is a Tramp” (“The lady is a beggar”).

One of the presidents who dealt with the queen the most was Bill Clinton (1993-2001), invited with his wife Hillary to spend the night on the royal yacht Britannia during the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings, in 1994. Although the Democratic president did not always accept the sovereign’s invitations: in 1997 he declined to attend tea, preferring to take advantage of his visit to London to behave like another tourist, visit some gardens and go shopping, according to documents published by CNN.

The last White House tenant he received was Joe Biden, last year, in one of his first public acts after the worst of the covid pandemic and the first with a foreign head of state after the death of Prince Philip in April. of 2021. “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a queen. She marked an era”, Biden stressed.

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