Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the longest in British history, ended on September 8, 2022. She had succeeded her father, George VI, upon his death on February 6, 1952. Elizabeth II’s reign extended from Presidents Truman to Biden. Of the presidents, she met fourteen. Elizabeth II did not meet LBJ, rather former President Herbert Hoover during her 1957 visit. Some of these visits were important diplomatic gestures and there were numerous presidential faux pas.
When the Queen visited the United States in May 1977, President Carter massively diverged from protocol by kissing the accompanying Queen Mother on the mouth! She would later remark that she hadn’t received such a kiss since her late husband, George VI, was alive and that she had not backed up far enough from him.
George H.W. Bush
The Queen’s visit with Bush in May 1991 was noted for a humorous incident in which the considerably taller Bush forgot to adjust the stand he was speaking from for the Queen, resulting in her face being obscured by the microphones. To viewers, this looked like a “Royal Talking Hat”. She would make light of this in her speech before Congress, saying that she hoped that people could see her this time. The visit otherwise went well, with her attending for a baseball game for the first time.
George W. Bush
Like with his father, Elizabeth II’s visit had a humorous incident. Bush initially misspoke “1776” rather than “1976” when speaking of when she visited the United States for its bicentennial. Bush, attempting to recover, gave the Queen a wink and said to the audience, “She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child” (Carden). As she had done with the royal talking hat incident, she made light of the matter. She later began a toast saying, “I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776…” (Carden).
Michelle Obama committed a major breach of protocol by touching the Queen on the back and she graciously reciprocated. The choice of Obama’s giving the Queen an iPod as a gift, although not a protocol breach, I recall received some criticism.
President Trump committed a significant breach of protocol when he walked in front of the Queen several times. One is not supposed to walk in front of the Queen and one is also not supposed to turn their back on her.
Of all these, frankly, I must say Carter engaged in the worst faux pas here. Maybe its the time I live in vs. the 1970s, but I can’t imagine that crossing my mind.
Carden, M. (2022, September 9). The Adorable Faux Pas George W. Bush Once Made In Front Of The Queen. The List.
Headlee, P. (2022, September 9). Queen Elizabeth met more than a dozen U.S. presidents, President Truman was the first. KMBC News.
Heffer, S. (2022, September 9). Queen Elizabeth II: For Country and Commonwealth. The Interpreter.
Starbuck, L. (2018, December 1). George H.W. Bush and the Royal Talking Hat. Royal Central.