This week, the Queen met with her thirteenth American president—a really remarkable fact! To mark the moment, I’ve got a massive roundup today of jewels she has worn for presidential meetings throughout her long life. Settle in and enjoy 70 years of royal jewels!
The Queen’s first meeting with an American president happened while she was still Princess Elizabeth. In the autumn of 1951, she and Prince Philip flew to Washington, where they were hosted by President Harry Truman. The visit was a whirlwind one, squeezed into less than 48 hours between stops on the couple’s tour of Canada. It was the first British royal visit to the United States since 1939, before the start of World War II. On the couple’s arrival at Washington National Airport, they were greeted by Truman, who escorted them to Blair House. For her arrival in America, the princess wore pearls and the Greville Ivy Leaf Clips: one on her lapel, and the other on her hat.
At the White House, Elizabeth and Philip presented gifts to Truman on behalf of the princess’s father, King George VI. Buckingham Palace released a statement detailing the gifts: “On the occasion of the restoration and redecoration of the White House the King has given to the President of the United States two candelabra of 18th-century English workmanship and a looking glass of the same period which will be installed above the fireplace in the Blue Room of the White House. His Majesty’s gifts will be presented by Princess Elizabeth during Her Royal Highness’s visit to Washington.” The “looking glass” is the large piece behind Truman in this photograph; it has a floral painting atop the mirror. It was ultimately installed in the State Dining Room, not the Blue Room.
For the presentation of the gifts, Elizabeth wore the large floral brooch from the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara. The presents showed just how far the Anglo-American diplomatic relationship had come since the days of the War of 1812, when British soldiers famously set fire to the White House. Indeed, Truman was downright smitten with Elizabeth, who was close to the same age as his beloved daughter, Margaret. At a small dinner at Blair House that evening, Truman offered a toast, declaring, “When I was a little boy I read about a fairy princess—and there she is!”
For a dinner hosted by the Edinburghs in honor of the Trumans at the Canadian Embassy, Princess Elizabeth wore a trio of her wedding presents—the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, the Bahrain Pearl Drop Earrings, and the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace—with a dress described by the Associated Press as “a turquoise and cream brocade gown with a soft draped shawl collar.”
The Queen and the Duke made their second visit to the United States in October 1957. The trip also came in the midst of a Canadian tour, and the Queen appeared officially as the Queen of Canada during the diplomatic visit. Above, the Queen is pictured attending church with the Eisenhowers at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington. She wears the largest of the Nizam of Hyderabad Rose Brooches on her collar, as well as one of the two smaller brooches from the set on her hat.
Eisenhower also met with the Queen in the United Kingdom in August 1959. (A few months earlier, she had made a stop in Chicago, where she was hosted by Vice President Nixon.) The visit came during Eisenhower’s visit to several European countries. Ike stayed overnight at Balmoral with the Queen, who had recently announced that she was expecting her third child, and the rest of the royal family. The Associated Press reported that the Queen unexpectedly appeared at the gates to welcome Eisenhower, greeting him, “Well, well, I’m delighted to see you.” Eisenhower replied, “Thank you, ma’am. It’s wonderful to be here.”
For this picture, taken on the castle grounds during Eisenhower’s farewell the following morning, HM wore an important diamond brooch with major royal history: Queen Adelaide’s Brooch. During the photo call, Eisenhower teased a young Princess Anne about her cooking prowess, and the Queen dryly offered, “I’ll send you some samples.” True to form, Prince Philip was grumpy in front of the press. AP reports reported that the Duke “glared” at the gathered photographers and complained to Eisenhower that they were trying to get “a picture of the pimple” that had apparently surfaced on the Duke’s nose.
On June 5, 1961, the Queen and the Duke hosted their third American president, John F. Kennedy, for dinner at Buckingham Palace. Kennedy was joined by his glamorous wife, Jacqueline, at the dinner. (This event was portrayed, with a whole lot of fictional inventions, in season two of The Crown.) The Queen wore the George VI Sapphires and Prince Albert’s Brooch for the evening, while Jackie wore her diamond waterfall earrings, plus brooches at her shoulders and in her hair.
The Queen never met with Kennedy’s successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson. Instead, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon paid Johnson a visit at the White House in November 1965. Margaret wore two diamond rivieres and a pair of diamond earrings for the dinner (which was also fictionalized in The Crown.)
LBJ is the only American president since 1951 who has not had a meeting with the Queen. President Richard Nixon visited the United Kingdom twice during his administration. During the first visit, on February 25, 1969, he had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. She wore her Diamond Wild Rose Brooch with the Hanoverian Pearls for the meeting.
Nixon’s second UK visit took place in October 1970. Accompanied by his wife, Pat, he met with the Queen and Prime Minister Edward Heath at Chequers for lunch on October 3. The Queen wore the Dorset Bow Brooch for the luncheon.
The Queen’s third American visit was timed for a very special anniversary: the American bicentennial in 1976. She arrived just after the Fourth of July, and was hosted by President and Mrs. Ford. Above, she wears the Duchess of Cambridge’s Pearl Pendant Brooch to make a speech at the White House on July 7, in which she declared that American independence may have ended British rule over the nation, but it “did not for long break our friendship.” The Queen also offered the Fords a unique gift: a special brooch made by one of the royal couple’s favorite jewelers, Andrew Grima.
That evening, despite unexpected rain, the Fords hosted the Queen and the Duke for a state dinner outside the White House, under a tent in the Rose Garden. The Queen wore a yellow chiffon dress for the dinner and added sparkle with Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik, the Greville Chandelier Earrings, and her Diamond Festoon Necklace.
In her Silver Jubilee year, the Queen hosted a group of foreign leaders for a black-tie dinner at Buckingham Palace during the third G7 Summit. One of these was President Jimmy Carter. For the dinner, held on May 7, 1977, the Queen (speaking here with French President wore another yellow gown with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace and the Gloucester Pendant Earrings. The Queen Mother, charmingly clutching President Carter’s hand in this photograph, wore Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, plus her Prince of Wales Feather Brooch with its emerald drop. (Also, just as an interesting historical coincidence: this dinner was held the same week that the first David Frost/Richard Nixon interview was aired on television.)
Five years later, in June 1982, the Queen and the Duke hosted their seventh American president, Ronald Reagan, during his state visit to Britain. The Reagans stayed at Windsor Castle during the visit, where they were feted with a state dinner on June 8. The Queen wore diamonds and pearls for the dinner, including the pearl setting of the Vladimir Tiara, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace, and the Gloucester Pendant Earrings.
Less than a year later, the Queen returned the favor, arriving on the West Coast for an American state visit in Reagan’s home state of California. She wore pearls and the Cullinan V Brooch for the official welcome ceremony in Santa Barbara on February 26, 1983.
The visit was a lengthy one that took the royal couple through California, Oregon, and Washington. One of the most memorable events was a state dinner held on March 3, 1983, at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. For the dinner, the Queen wore a gown with ’80s statement sleeves, accessorizing with the pearl setting of the Vladimir Tiara, the Gloucester Pendant Earrings, and Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace. (She made Reagan howl with laughter at a joke about the weather during her remarks at the visit.)
The following evening, on March 4, 1983, the Queen wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara with the Brazilian Aquamarines as she and the Duke hosted a dinner for 56 aboard the Britannia, the royal yacht. The dinner fell on the Reagans’ wedding anniversary, and Nancy’s press secretary told reporters, “What more can you ask for your 31st anniversary than to spend it having dinner with the Queen aboard the yacht?” Indeed.
President Reagan was back in Europe in 1984 for the commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France during World War II. He and the Queen both attended a ceremony at Utah Beach on June 6, 1984, honoring the anniversary. The Queen wore the Duchess of Cambridge’s Pearl Pendant Brooch for the occasion. Between them stands Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who landed at Normandy with the Irish Guards on June 11, 1944. (The Queen and President Reagan also served during the war, she with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and he with the motion picture unit of the US Army Air Forces.)
Back in London, Reagan was in attendance at the tenth G7 summit. On Saturday, June 9, 1984, the Queen hosted a dinner for the summit attendees at Buckingham Palace. She wore yellow with diamonds, including the Antique Girandole Earrings and her Diamond Festoon Necklace.
On the plane home after the trip, Mrs. Reagan treated the press on Air Force One to a series of anecdotes about the royals. During the dinner at the palace, President Reagan and the Queen Mother discovered a shared love of the poems of Robert Service, and he recited “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” for her right on the spot. Nancy, meanwhile, was seated between Prince Philip and Prince Charles—”not a bad seat.” Princess Diana wasn’t in attendance at the dinner, as she was pregnant with Prince Harry, but Nancy had the chance to drop by to see Diana and little Prince William at home. “He talks all the time. He loves helicopters,” she revealed, noting that her visit with William was the highlight of her trip.
The Reagans met with the Queen once more in London during his administration. She hosted them at Buckingham Palace for tea in June 1988, on the heels of his trip to Moscow. It’s not visible in this photograph, but the Queen wore Prince Albert’s Brooch for the meeting.
A year later, the Queen and the Duke met their eighth American president, George H.W. Bush, in London. They welcomed President and Mrs. Bush to Buckingham Palace for a luncheon on June 1, 1989. The Queen wore Empress Marie Feodorovna’s Sapphire Brooch with its pearl pendant for the occasion. The arrival of the Bushes gave the world a rare chance to see the Queen in an irritated mood; when confusion over protocol led to a long pause before anyone opened Barbara’s car door outside the palace, the Queen stepped forward, shook her head, raised her voice, and ordered, “Open it.” A Secret Service agent quickly complied.
The following year, President Bush was back in London for a NATO summit. On July 5, 1990, the Queen hosted summit participants for a dinner at Buckingham Palace. She wore the Antique Girandole Earrings and the King Khalid Necklace for the event.
In May 1991, the Queen and the Duke headed back to America for another state visit. The royal couple spent almost two weeks in the United States, with stops in Washington, D.C., Florida, and Texas. For the official welcome ceremony at the White House on May 14, the Queen wore a brooch we rarely see in its complete form: the Kent Amethyst Brooch with its three diamond and amethyst pendants.
That evening, the Queen and the Duke were guests of honor at a state dinner at the White House. The Queen wore a white gown with the Belgian Sapphire Tiara and the George VI Sapphires for the occasion.
The state visit schedule was packed with interesting engagements. I’m particularly fond of the photos taken on May 15 of the royals with the Bushes at the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, where they attended a baseball game between the Orioles and the Oakland A’s. The Queen wore one of her wedding presents, the Jewellers and Silversmiths Brooch, for the outing.
The Queen and the Duke hosted a reciprocal dinner for President and Mrs. Bush at the British Embassy on May 16. The Queen wore Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace and the Gloucester Pendant Earrings. She also placed one of Queen Victoria’s Wheat Ear Brooches in her hair.
President Bush’s last visit to London during his presidency came in July 1991, when he attended the 17th G7 Summit. The Queen again hosted a dinner during the summit at Buckingham Palace. The event was filmed for the documentary Elizabeth R, which aired to coincide with her Ruby Jubilee the following February. The Queen wore her Emerald Tassel Suite for the dinner.
After the end of his administration, President and Mrs. Bush traveled to London in the autumn of 1993 for a special event. During a luncheon at Buckingham Palace, the Queen bestowed an honorary knighthood on the former president, making him a Knight of the Order of the Bath. (His predecessor, President Reagan, had also received the same honor in 1989.) The Queen wore the Jardine Star Brooch for the luncheon.
The Queen and the Duke welcomed their ninth American president, Bill Clinton, to London for their first meeting in June 1994. The occasion was a special banquet at the Guildhall on June 4, marking the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The Queen wore the Belgian Sapphire Tiara and the George VI Sapphires for the dinner.
Two days later, on June 6, 1994, both the Queen and Clinton were on hand with other world leaders (including King Harald V of Norway and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands) for ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day at Omaha Beach. The Queen wore the Coral Rose Brooch for the occasion.
The Queen and the Duke also welcomed the Clintons to Buckingham Palace in November 1995. The Queen wore the large Nizam of Hyderabad Rose Brooch for the meeting.
Near the end of his second term, the Clintons met with the Queen once more, this time in December 2000 on the heels of a summit with British and Irish leaders in Belfast. She wore her gold, ruby, and diamond floral brooch for the meeting.
President George W. Bush, the Queen and the Duke’s tenth American president, met with the monarch for lunch at Buckingham Palace on July 19, 2001. President and Mrs. Bush hurried in from the rain for the meeting, for which the Queen wore her Golden Dahlia Brooch.
The Queen hosted President and Mrs. Bush for a formal state visit in London in November 2003. For the welcome ceremony, on November 19, the Queen wore the City of London Lily Brooch.
That evening, for a banquet at Buckingham Palace, the Queen wore a golden lace gown with diamonds, including Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik, Queen Mary’s Diamond Frame Earrings, and her modern diamond fringe necklace.
The following evening, the Bushes gave a dinner for the royals at Winfield House in London. For the event, the Queen wore the Antique Girandole Earrings and her Diamond Festoon Necklace with a blue beaded gown.
The Queen wore the Jardine Star Brooch to bid farewell to President Bush at Buckingham Palace at the end of the visit on November 21.
On May 7, 2007, the Queen and the Duke began a state visit to the United States. She wore the City of London Lily Brooch for the official welcome ceremony at the White House. This visit was featured in a documentary, Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work.
The Bushes hosted a white-tie state dinner for the royal couple that evening. The Queen wore a white gown and lots of diamonds, including the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, Queen Mary’s Diamond Frame Earrings, her Diamond Festoon Necklace, and Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Brooch.
The Queen wore the Pearl Trefoil Brooch on May 8, 2007, when she and the Duke made a visit to the National World War II Memorial in Washington. They were accompanied by a pair of old pals: President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.
That evening, the Queen and the Duke hosted a return dinner at the British Embassy. She wore the Brazilian Aquamarines for the occasion.
A year later, on June 15, 2008, the royal couple met with President and Mrs. Bush at Windsor Castle. They gave the president and first lady a tour of the refurbished castle, including the rebuilt St. George’s Hall, with its impressive ceiling. The Queen wore her Diamond Clematis Brooch for the meeting.
President—the Queen and the Duke’s eleventh American president—and Mrs. Obama had their inaugural meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009. For the audience, the Queen wore the Williamson Pink Diamond Brooch.
Two years later, the Obamas returned for a formal state visit. The Queen welcomed them to Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011, wearing the Cullinan V Brooch.
That evening, the Queen hosted a state banquet for the Obamas at the palace. She wore pearls and diamonds, including the pearl setting of the Vladimir Tiara, Queen Victoria’s Pearl Drop Earrings, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace, and the Teck Emperor of Austria Brooch.
For the return dinner at Winfield House the following evening, the Queen wore her Emerald Tassel Suite. She also pinned a new brooch to her dress: the moss agate brooch that had been presented to her by the Obamas the previous day.
The Queen and President Obama met again at the D-Day 70th Anniversary ceremonies at Chateau de Benouville in France on June 6, 2014. The Queen wore Queen Victoria’s Diamond Fringe Brooch.
The Obamas stopped by Windsor Castle for a private luncheon on April 22, 2016. The Queen wore her Aquamarine Clips for the meeting (and a headscarf, worn to greet the couple after they landed on the castle lawn in a helicopter).
The Queen also had several meetings with President Trump, her twelfth American president. The first came on July 13, 2018, at Windsor Castle. The Queen wore the Queen Mother’s Palm Leaf Brooch. (I wrote about the uproar that accompanied the brooch choice here, and we’ll avoid discussing that topic any further.)
The second meeting came during the American state visit in June 2019. On June 3, the Queen wore the Cambridge Emerald Cluster Brooch for the official welcome ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
She later changed into the Cullinan VI and VIII Brooch for the Royal Collection presentation and exchange of gifts.
Shortly after the state visit, both the Queen and the President were present in France for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Portsmouth on June 5, 2019. The Queen wore the Centenary Rose Brooch.
The Queen and the President had one more formal meeting: at a reception held at Buckingham Palace on December 3, 2019, ahead of the NATO alliance summit. The Queen again wore the Queen Mother’s Palm Leaf Brooch.
A few days ago, the Queen met her thirteenth American president, President Joe Biden. For the initial meeting, which came during a reception ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, the Queen wore the Botswana Sorghum Brooch. She’ll be having another meeting with the Bidens at Windsor Castle later today, and I’ll update the post with more brooch information then!
UPDATE: We’ve got another presidential brooch! For tea with President and Dr. Biden at Windsor Castle on June 13, 2021, the Queen wore a favorite brooch: the Jardine Star Brooch. (You’ll note in the roundup above that she’s worn it at least twice before for presidential visits, in 1993 and 2003.)
The brooch is a natural choice for American presidential visits, given its starry design. Perhaps a little diplomatic nod to the Stars and Stripes?
A quick note: when commenting, please remember that we’re here to talk about jewelry, not about politics, and certainly not about our feelings about various American presidents. Thank you!