WASHINGTON: With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Joe Biden gained the distinction of being the 13th and final US president to meet the woman whose reign spanned seven decades.
The queen, who died Thursday at her summer residence in Scotland at age 96, had met every American president since Dwight Eisenhower, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson, who did not visit Britain during his presidency.
She was still a princess when she met President Harry Truman in Washington.
Every living former US president — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — joined Biden in mourning her passing and sending condolences to her family.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden said the queen’s “legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world.”
Obama and his wife, Michelle, recalled the queen welcoming them, America’s first Black president and first lady, to the world stage “with open arms and extraordinary generosity.”
Biden first met the queen in 1982 as a U.S. senator traveling in the U.K. with a delegation from Congress. He last saw her in 2021, several months after he became president, when he attended a world leaders’ summit in southwestern England.
She mingled with Group of Seven leaders at a reception that she and other royals hosted at an indoor rainforest. After the summit, the Bidens traveled to Windsor Castle, near London, at the queen’s invitation for a private audience.
The queen was a 25-year-old princess when she came to Washington in 1951 and stayed with Truman and his family. She met Herbert Hoover in 1957, more than 20 years after he left office.
Here are highlights of some of her meetings, on both sides of the pond, with past American presidents:
Biden and his trademark aviator sunglasses met the queen at Windsor Castle on a sweltering afternoon in June 2021.
Biden emerged from a black car wearing his shades, stepped onto a covered dais where the queen waited, and, with his wife, posed with the queen as the two countries’ national anthems played.
After walking around the courtyard to inspect the honor guard, he entered the castle for tea.
Back at the airport, Biden told journalists that the queen was “very gracious” and had asked him about the leaders of China and Russia.
While it’s generally frowned upon to discuss one’s private talks with the queen, Biden continued.
“I don’t think she’ll be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother,” he said.
Biden said he also had invited the queen to visit the White House.
Trump and the queen met in July 2018 at the castle during a visit to Britain that drew large anti-Trump protests to downtown London, including the hoisting of a balloon depicting Trump in a diaper.
He was criticized for breaking protocol by briefly walking in front of the queen — instead of alongside her — and turning his back on her as they reviewed an honor guard.
Trump later said he thought of his late mother, Mary Anne, who was born in Scotland and who loved the royal family, when he and his wife, Melania, sipped tea with the queen.
Trump’s subsequent comment that the queen told him that Brexit — Britain’s break from the European Union — was complex also created a stir. Most heads of state don’t reveal their private conversations with the queen. She also doesn’t discuss political matters.
The Trumps and the royals met again during the D-Day commemoration in 2019.
Obama and the queen had their first of three meetings in April 2009 at a reception for world leaders attending the Group of 20 nations summit in London.
It was there that first lady Michelle Obama broke protocol by briefly putting an arm around the queen’s back as they commiserated about their achy feet. It’s generally a no-no to touch the queen, but she returned Mrs. Obama’s gesture.
The queen invited the Obamas for a state visit in 2011 that included a two-night stay at Buckingham Palace and a lavish banquet in the president’s honor.
As Obama delivered a toast to the queen, he didn’t miss a beat when the band assumed that a pause in his remarks meant he had concluded and launched into a rendition of “God Save the Queen.” Obama kept talking over the music until the band quieted down.
The couples saw each other again in 2016 when Obama visited the queen at Windsor Castle a day after her 90th birthday during another swing through Europe.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Bush detested stuffy, formal affairs, but he donned a white tie-and-tails tuxedo after the queen pulled out all the stops for a state dinner in his honor at Buckingham Palace in November 2003.
A few years later, Bush’s slip of the tongue generated ripples of laughter at a White House welcoming ceremony for the queen, who was touring the U.S. in May 2007.
Stumbling on a line in his speech, Bush said the queen had dined with several of his predecessors and had helped the United States “celebrate its bicentennial in 17- ...” Bush caught himself and corrected the date to 1976, and paused to see if she had taken offense.
“She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child,” Bush said with a smile.
The queen later turned the tables on Bush with her toast at a dinner she hosted for the president at the British Embassy in Washington.
“I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776,’” she said to laughter.
The queen hosted Clinton and his wife, Hillary, aboard her royal yacht, Britannia, in June 1994.
The ship, 412 feet (125 meters) long and 55 feet (17 meters) wide, was docked at the Portsmouth Naval Base and was home base for the Clintons as they attended the queen’s dinner at Guildhall for leaders of Allied nations whose troops participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy 50 years earlier.
The Clintons spent one night aboard the boat. The next day, the Britannia ferried Clinton to the USS George Washington aircraft carrier as it prepared to sail across the English Channel, from Portsmouth to Normandy, for D-Day anniversary celebrations.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH
One of the more memorable images from the monarch’s third state visit to the U.S. came in 1991 when only her white-striped purple hat could be seen above the microphones when she spoke at an arrival ceremony on the White House grounds.
Someone forgot to adjust the lectern after the much taller Bush spoke.
The queen stayed strong and carried on, later making light of the incident as she opened an address to a joint meeting of Congress.
“I do hope you can see me today from where you are,” she deadpanned. Bush later apologized and said he felt badly for not pulling out a step for her to stand on.
Reagan and the queen bonded over a mutual love of horseback riding.
They rode side by side on an 8-mile (13-kilometers), hourlong tour on the grounds of Windsor Castle when Reagan visited her there in June 1982. Reagan was the first president to sleep over at the British royal family’s historic home, an 11th-century estate overlook the River Thames.
While in the U.S. in 1983, the monarch and Philip stayed with the president and first lady Nancy Reagan at their ranch in Santa Barbara, California. She wanted to ride horses again, but a rainstorm wouldn’t allow it. The Reagans served a lunch of regional staples, including enchiladas, chiles rellenos, refried beans, tacos, rice and guacamole.
They also hosted a state dinner for the queen in San Francisco at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.
The queen hosted Carter in May 1977 on his first overseas trip at a dinner for NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace. At one point, as Carter stood with the queen and other guests, he noticed the arrival of the queen mother.
Ever the Southern gentleman, Carter broke away, took her by the hand and escorted her to the assembled line of guests.
The no-frills Georgia peanut farmer-turned-president ate chicken mousse off a gold plate and seemed excited by his dinner seating between the queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, and across from her son, Prince Charles, Prince Philip and the queen mother.
Ford threw a gala state dinner for the Brits in 1976 to mark the bicentennial of the American Revolution. The queen was resplendent in a diamond-studded tiara that sparkled for a crowd that included diplomats, star athletes and celebrities such as Cary Grant and Julie Harris.
The mood evaporated when Ford led the queen to the dance floor while the song “The Lady Is a Tramp” echoed throughout the State Dining Room.