Queen Elizabeth is a living witness to history — and now, some of her most fascinating encounters with U.S. presidents are being told in a new book.
“Perhaps the most charming” of all was President Ronald Reagan, whose friendship with the Queen lasted well into his retirement, author Robert Hardman says in a new book, Queen of the World. Their easy camaraderie may have been because he was “extremely comfortable on a horse,” meaning he could ride out with the Queen.
After Reagan’s 1982 visit to Windsor Castle, the Queen made a return trip to the U.S. the following spring. There, after sharing a Tex-Mex lunch with tacos and refried beans with President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, the Queen and Prince Philip headed to San Francisco, where the President’s deputy chief of staff Mike Deaver set up a special evening out: dinner at Trader Vic’s.
“For the Queen, who had not eaten in a restaurant for 15 years, it was a novel experience, right down to being given a fortune cookie at the end (she read the message and then put it in her [purse]),” writes Hardman.
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In May 1991, on a visit to Washington to stay with President H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara, the Queen would also meet George W. Bush, who would one day follow his father as president.
Bush Jr. had “cowboy boots etched with the words ‘God Save The Queen,’ ” writes Hardman, and Elizabeth asked him if he was the “black sheep” of the family. “I guess so,” he replied. “All families have them,” observed the Queen.
When Bill and Hillary Clinton came to the U.K. for the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994, they stayed on the Royal Yacht Britannia. President Clinton, who Hardman notes would recall how the Queen was always at her diplomatic best “probing” him for information “without venturing too far into her own political views,” surprised his breakfast guests one morning.
“Clinton began to describe his visit to Italy the previous day: ‘He was talking about visiting the U.S. graves at Anzio and suddenly he burst into tears — which was unexpected,'” Hardman writes, quoting a member of the Royal Household who was at the meal alongside Prince Philip.