“The King will meet the President of the United States at Windsor Castle on Monday 10 July 2023.” Joe Biden’s new state visit to the United Kingdom was announced with this statement from Buckingham Palace. It was previously hosted by Elizabeth II during the G7 summit in June 2021. Many American heads of state have previously hosted Windsor.
Soon after his dual term in the White House ended, General Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a long journey around the world. His first leg takes him to Great Britain. On June 26, 1877, presented by protocol as “President Grant”, he was invited to dinner at Windsor by Queen Victoria. It was the first time a president — or any American citizen — had enjoyed such a reception, largely because of his illustrious military career. He and his wife Julia are greeted by the Queen at the foot of the stairs to the main entrance. Despite etiquette, Grant’s son Jesse would be allowed to sit at the royal table, not with the servants!
As for Julia Grant, Victoria never fails to criticize the mannerisms of this “funny American.” Despite this, the banquet, served in the Oak Room at Windsor, passed happily and served to strengthen the Anglo-American alliance. Many sitting presidents would follow Grant’s example. In December 1918, Woodrow Wilson passed through London before attending the peace talks at Versailles. In August 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt crossed the Atlantic to speak with Prime Minister Churchill. His successor, Harry S. Truman would do the same in July 1945.
Queen Elizabeth II will meet 13 of the 14 presidents of the United States during her seven-decade reign. Lyndon B. All but Johnson.
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In June 1982, Ronald Reagan received the first honor of spending a night at Windsor Castle during the Margaret Thatcher era. The next morning, the former Hollywood “cowboy” would have the privilege of riding in the park with his hostess. In his memoirs, An American LifeRegan would recall this unique moment: “The highlight of our stay came when the Queen and I went horse riding together and Nancy and Prince Philip went in a horse-drawn carriage. I must admit that the Queen is a very capable horsewoman. We made our way to Windsor Castle because of the warmth and welcoming hospitality of the Queen and Prince Philip. The visit will always be remembered.”
Barack Obama will also be welcomed there in 2016. Later, Michelle Obama will reveal this event about her visit. Their helicopter landed in a field not far from the castle and the queen had to take it in her car: “I had this whole protocol in mind and I was like ‘Don’t go up the steps, don’t. Whatever you do, don’t touch anybody.’ And then the queen said to me, ‘Come and sit where you like.’ I immediately think of protocol, and she says, ‘Oh that’s nonsense, come up, come later’. That’s it!”
Donald Trump and his wife Melania will be received in Windsor in July 2018. A poll found that 49% of Britons took a dim view of the reception. Also, the President of the United States should be content with an official visit, not a state visit. He will still have the privilege of having tea with her gracious majesty, whom he considers an “incredible woman”, adding: “She represented her country over the years and she never really put a foot wrong. My wife is one of her greatest admirers”.
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