Neil Armstrong and the other Apollo 11 astronauts met Queen Elizabeth during a world tour following their successful moon landing

By Stephanie Petit
October 14, 2020 10:07 AM
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Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, Queen Elizabeth and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin
Hulton Archive/Getty

For Neil Armstrong, landing on the moon went smoother than meeting Queen Elizabeth!

After Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins' historic Apollo 11 mission — which touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969 — the three astronauts embarked on a world tour that included an October 14 visit to meet the British royal family at Buckingham Palace. However, the first man to walk on the moon was suffering from a cold. He was so ill that he considered skipping the royal visit to rest, but his wife wasn't going to miss her chance to rub elbows with the Queen.

"She told me that if I had to be embalmed, we were going to the palace. She wanted to see the place," the famously private Armstrong, who died in 2012, later shared.

But Armstrong's sickness resulted in an awkward moment. While trying to speak to the Queen, he began to cough on her — and when he tried to apologize, he only coughed more. Queen Elizabeth reportedly reacted in a lighthearted way, lifting her hands in mock surrender.

Queen Elizabeth and Neil Armstrong
PA Images via Getty
British royal family meets American astronauts
PA Images via Getty

But Armstrong wasn't the only one with an embarrassing story to tell. In 2016, Aldrin revealed on Twitter that Collins nearly had a scary incident due to his attempt to stay respectful to the monarch.

"Mike Collins almost fell down the stairs trying not to turn his back on Queen Elizabeth II," Aldrin wrote.

Ahead of Apollo 11, NASA asked leaders from 73 countries to share messages, which were reduced in size and etched on a disc that was left behind on the moon. Queen Elizabeth said, "On behalf of the British people, I salute the skills and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavor increase the knowledge and well-being of mankind."

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Long fascinated by space travel, the Queen, 94, has also met the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the first woman, Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.