Queen Elizabeth II has met with nearly every American President since Dwight Eisenhower during her more than 67 years on the throne. Next week, she’ll welcome President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump back to the United Kingdom, this time for a rare state visit.
Though the Trumps and the Royal Family are expected to adhere to the highest levels of protocol during the visit, Trump’s remarks ahead of the trip threaten to damage goodwill with the Queen – he publicly insulted her grandson’s wife on the eve of the visit.
During an interview with The Sun, Trump was asked about comments made by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, ahead of the 2016 election. Speaking on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” in 2016, Markle called Trump misogynistic and said his politics are divisive, saying she would move to Canada if he won the presidency.
Trump responded, “I didn’t know that she was nasty. I hope she is OK,” later adding, “I am sure she will go excellently (as a royal). She will be very good.” Buckingham Palace had no comment on Trump’s interview regarding Markle.
The Trumps previously met with the Queen at Windsor Castle last June, a more informal meeting over tea.
The trip comes amid a blitz of foreign travel for the President and will be the Trumps’ second state visit in less than two weeks. In May, they were Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s first state guests since he ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne earlier that month.
For the Trump’s official visit, Buckingham Palace is pulling out all of the Royal stops befitting a world leader. An official state visit requires the formal invitation of the Queen to a head of state “on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth office,” per Buckingham Palace, and usually involves a ceremonial welcome, a state banquet, other meetings with British officials and a formal farewell.
Trump, who is known to appreciate pomp and circumstance, is sure to revel in the pageantry. His adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump, will also be joining him and the first lady.
Likewise, they “will have the opportunity to meet some other members of the Royal Family” during the arrival ceremony, said a senior administration official briefing reporters on the trip. America’s own member of the Royal Family, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is not expected to attend, as she has largely remained out of the public spotlight since giving birth in early May.
The ‘special relationship’
The “special relationship” with the United Kingdom also carries special significance for the President. After their 2018 tea, Trump told interviewer Piers Morgan that he was thinking of his mother when he met the Queen.
“I was thinking about my mother. My mother passed away a while ago and she was a tremendous fan of the Queen. She thought she was a woman of elegance, and my mother felt she was a great woman. I remember even as a little guy, if there was any kind of a ceremony to do with the Queen, my mother would be watching the television – she wanted to see it,” Trump said at the time.
Trump recalled: “I was walking up and I was saying (to Melania), ‘Can you imagine my mother seeing this scene? Windsor. Windsor Castle.’ And it was beautiful, it was really beautiful but the Queen is terrific. She is so sharp, so wise, so beautiful. Up close, you see she’s so beautiful. She’s a very special person.”
Trump told Morgan that the Queen walked him through all of the presidents she had met.
“Harry Truman was the first president that she got to meet and know, and she went through a whole list. It was a very nice moment, Piers, very nice,” he said.
The Queen met President Harry Truman when she was still Princess Elizabeth, during a trip to Washington in 1951 at the age of 25. She and Prince Philip stayed at Blair House with Truman and his family since the White House was under a four-year major renovation, according to the White House Historical Association.
Since then, she’s met with every US President, with the one exception of President Lyndon B. Johnson. But this is only the third state visit from a US president during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign; the invitation has only been extended to Trump’s most recent predecessors – Barack and Michelle Obama in May 2011 and George W. and Laura Bush in November 2003.
She hosted the Kennedys for a banquet – not an official state visit – in 1961, which was recently depicted in the Netflix drama “The Crown,” hinting at an icy, if not entirely accurate, relationship between the Queen and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
The Nixons, Carters, and Clintons also met her informally in 1970, 1977, and 1994, respectively, and she hosted a formal dinner honoring the Reagans at Windsor Castle in 1982. Carter drew the Queen Mother’s ire during that 1977 visit when he kissed her on the lips.
“Nobody has done that since my husband died,” she reportedly said.
The Queen has traveled to the United States for informal visits and state visits multiple times during her reign. For her first state visit to the US as Queen in 1957, she and Prince Philip stayed in the same suite in the White House in which her parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, had stayed in 1939, according to the White House Historical Association, and she was greeted with large crowds on her motorcade from the airport.
At the White House
In 1976, President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford hosted her for a state dinner in the Rose Garden. President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan served the Queen enchiladas and chile rellenos when she visited them at their Santa Barbara ranch in 1983, and days later, hosted a State Dinner in her honor at San Francisco’s M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.
She rolled up her sleeves – though not literally – during an official state visit in 1991, planting a tree on the White House South Lawn alongside President George H. W. Bush, replacing a storm-damaged tree her father planted in 1937. And she attended a white-tie state dinner at the George W. Bush White House in 2007.
She shared a warm relationship with the Obamas, as Michelle Obama recently recalled.
“So, I had all this protocol buzzing in my head, and I was like, ‘Don’t trip down the stairs and don’t touch anybody, whatever you do,’ ” the former first lady said during a book tour event. “And so, the Queen says, ‘Just get in, sit wherever,’ and she’s telling you one thing and you’re remembering protocol and she says, ‘Oh it’s all rubbish, just get in.’ “
It remains to be seen whether the Queen shares the same affection for Trump.
Asked if he got the feeling she liked him, Trump told Morgan: “Well, I don’t want to speak for her, but I can tell you I liked her. So, usually that helps. But I liked her a lot.”