The First REAL Lady: overly familiar presidents and mistakes of US officials

Gerald Ford dancing with Queen Elizabeth II at the ball at the White House, Washington, during the bicentennial celebrations of the 1976 Declaration of Independence

An important new book written by the Royal Mail writer describes the diplomatic role assumed by the Queen during her unprecedented years of public service.

Yesterday, he told what really happens when royals embark on a tour abroad.

Today, in the final part of our serialization, he traces the special relationship of HM with the US. UU

Gerald Ford dancing with Queen Elizabeth II at the ball at the White House, Washington, during the bicentennial celebrations of the 1976 Declaration of Independence

Gerald Ford dancing with Queen Elizabeth II at the ball at the White House, Washington, during the bicentennial celebrations of the 1976 Declaration of Independence

For his first trip to Florida, part of his 1991 state visit to the United States, the Royal Yacht had sailed to Miami to meet with the Queen.

While the crew of Britannia waited to greet her, they blushed through all the royal baths and heads (ship toilets), which was a standard practice before a real arrival. Then the captain of Britannia suddenly had a furious officer from the Port Authority of Miami knocking on his door.

The crew had recently breached strict environmental regulations and the captain received a fine of $ 10,000 (£ 7,700) plus an order to leave the port in two hours.

It did not matter that the Queen received a state banquet on board that afternoon, with two former US presidents. UU Among the guests The rules were rules. The yacht would have to pack and leave.

It was only after the direct intervention of the White House that Britannia could remain with him. The banquet was duly performed without further incident.

The legendary & # 39; special relationship & # 39; He had worked his magic once more.

However, it is a phrase that is heard most frequently on this side of the Atlantic and there are commentators in both Britain and the US. UU They consider that any notion of "special relationship" is a sentimental and subordinate illusion on the part of the British establishment. .

Certainly there have been strong individual matches between No 10 and the White House, particularly Churchill and Roosevelt, Thatcher and Reagan and, lately, Blair and George W. Bush.

Queen Elizabeth II rides on horseback with US President Ronald Reagan at Windsor, June 1982

Queen Elizabeth II rides on horseback with US President Ronald Reagan at Windsor, June 1982

Queen Elizabeth II rides on horseback with US President Ronald Reagan at Windsor, June 1982

However, historians will note that there has been a more subtle, but more consistent, "special relationship," operating between the White House and Buckingham Palace throughout the reign of Elizabeth II, even during periods of deep political division.

Unlike the Queen's dealings with most countries, which have followed a well-established pattern, this is a friendship that has broken the bilateral mold. There may be few people in the US UU., Much less in the rest of the world, which have lived the administrations of 16 presidents, more than a third of the total, and have met 12 of them.

Of the few private vacations abroad that the Queen has enjoyed in her life (all related to horses), five have been spent in the United States.

And in 2018, the royal family welcomed its first American princess. However, the Queen's own "special relationship" dates back to daycare.

It was in 1939 when his parents traveled to Canada and the USA. UU To strengthen support for Britain before the imminent hostilities in Europe. Members of royalty enjoyed all informality.

The Queen wrote an emotional letter to her daughters about a memorable picnic lunch: "All our food on a plate, some salmon, some turkey, ham, lettuce, beans, and HOT DOGS too! & # 39; ;

While some Americans were dismayed at the idea of ​​serving hot dogs to a king, the royal family would never forget it.

Raised in wartime at Windsor, Princess Elizabeth was acutely aware of the strain on her father when she was trying to encourage the morale of a nation facing an invasion at any moment, and she could feel the redemptive significance of America's entry into the world. war.

Queen Elizabeth signs on behalf of her domain of Canada during the conclusion of the Power Project Ceremonies in the state of New York at the end of the St. Lawrence Power Dam

Queen Elizabeth signs on behalf of her domain of Canada during the conclusion of the Power Project Ceremonies in the state of New York at the end of the St. Lawrence Power Dam

Queen Elizabeth signs on behalf of her domain of Canada during the conclusion of the Power Project Ceremonies in the state of New York at the end of the St. Lawrence Power Dam

The victory and the austere years of almost bankrupt austerity that followed the bankruptcy caused fun and glamor.

Like many others, the princesses were spellbound by the explosive arrival of the first American musical after the war, Oklahoma.

According to reports, Princess Margaret went to see her more than 30 times. Princess Isabel and Prince Felipe saw him together as a couple in 1947; People will say that we are in love has been one of "their" songs since then.

The Queen's first experience in the United States was in 1951, when, as Princess Isabel, she interrupted a tour of Canada to meet President Harry Truman in the White House. Her first visit as Queen arrived in 1957 when she met President Dwight D. Eisenhower and then Vice President Richard Nixon.

Along with the formalities to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the first English colony in Jamestown, Virginia, the Queen and the Duke made their first visit to a supermarket. "How nice you can take your kids," he told shoppers as he marveled at the sight of a section of frozen food.

Food was also on the agenda in 1959 when the Queen entertained a US president for the first time. UU At home. After spending two days with the monarch at Balmoral, President Eisenhower felt that the experience was so enjoyable that he asked the queen & # 39; his & # 39; biscuit recipe (although not yours, which she transcribed in her own hands).

Disagreements after the Suez Crisis and then over Vietnam would strain the "special relationship" on the political front, but not the relationship between the Windsor and the White House.

In 1976, Gerald Ford invited the Queen to cross the Atlantic for a tumultuous state visit in honor of the bicentennial of the independence of the United States. She was accompanied by her new Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Anthony Crosland, and his wife born in the United States, who later recorded the Queen's advice on how to overcome tough tours like these.

"You plant your feet like that," the Queen told him. & # 39; Always keep them parallel. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed. That's all about it. & # 39;

The advice would be invaluable, with a punishment schedule in 100f (38c) of heat. The centerpiece was a White House state banquet for more than 200 guests, including Hollywood stars Cary Grant, Telly Savalas and Merle Oberon.

There was some fun when the cabaret after dinner, the pop duo Captain & Tennille, launched into their Muskrat Love, a moderately daring theme. That became a considerable distraction when President Ford invited the queen to dance. The band chose that same moment to start a new song: The Lady Is A Tramp.

There was an even more uncomfortable moment when Ford's successor arrived at Buckingham Palace a year later. Perhaps overcome with the nerves in what was his first trip outside the United States, Jimmy Carter became a little familiar with a member of the Royal Family.

As William Shawcross points out in his official biography, the Queen Mother hated to be told that she reminded people of their own mothers. After informing him that yes, that reminded him of his own mother, "Miz Lillian," President Carter kissed the Queen Mother on the lips. As she commented later, no one had done that since the death of George VI. "I took a step back," he recalled, "not enough."

Carter's successor, however, would enjoy one of the most enduring friendships between the Queen and any foreign politician. It certainly helped that Ronald Reagan was an accomplished rider. When he arrived at Windsor Castle for a semiprivate stay in 1982, the two heads of state spent a good hour riding through Windsor Great Park followed by bodyguard teams, both on all four legs and on all four wheels.

On a trip back to the USA UU In 1983, the queen fulfilled the ambition of a lifetime to travel the west coast. In Hollywood, Reagan offered a lunch full of stars for 500 people. Among the entertainments were Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Perry Como, but the arrangements left some bad taste to the local talent.

"Ronald Reagan was asked who should be at the head table," recalls Sir Brian Fall, then private secretary of the British Foreign Secretary, Francis Pym. & # 39; Should they be friends of the actor or political friends? He could not solve it, so he said: "Why do not we pack with the British in Hollywood?"

The result was a table full of British stars like Julie Andrews and Dudley Moore. For some Hollywood egos obsessed with the state, it was too much. The press office of Palace, which had not been part of the planning, resisted accusations that the Queen was only interested in sitting with her British colleagues.

His Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Washington DC this afternoon, where they were received by President Eisenhower.

His Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Washington DC this afternoon, where they were received by President Eisenhower.

His Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Washington DC this afternoon, where they were received by President Eisenhower.

"I was at the next table with Julie Andrews' husband," recalls Sir Brian. "I was so upset about not being at the table on the right that he left and left a space."

A few days later, the queen would arrive in San Francisco in Britain, but the bad weather convinced her to fly. The Reagan put Air Force Two at their disposal and the staff remembers a very excited Queen pressing her face against the window of an airplane to enjoy an aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

With no Royal Yacht to stay, the combined power of the White House, the Palace and the personal contacts of the former state governor found the last-minute accommodation of the queen and the duke in the presidential suite at the St Francis Hotel, where Nancy Reagan even organized that the works of art of the local museums will be rounded and hung on the walls.

"The next question was: where to go to dinner?", Recalls Sir Brian. Again the White House came to the rescue and managed to empty San Francisco's most famous restaurant, Trader Vic's, for the night. For the Queen, who had not eaten at a restaurant for 15 years, it was a novel experience, until the end she was given a fortune cookie at the end (she read the message and then put it in her purse).

The "special relationship" was still in robust form after the first Gulf War when the Queen and Prince Philip arrived to stay with President George H. Bush in 1991.

However, the state visit had an unfavorable start after the formal welcome of President Bush on the lawn of the White House. After his speech, he was supposed to press a pedal that lifted the platform from which the Queen was going to speak.

He forgot to do it and the Queen, being much lower, remained invisible to a large part of the crowd.

The moment was encapsulated in the words of NBC's Jim Miklaszewski: "It's gone! All I have is a talking hat! "To this day, Palace officials and diplomats still refer to the state visit as" the talking hat tour. "

During her stay in Washington, the Queen had her first meeting with the President's son, George W. Bush, in charge of the Texas Rangers baseball team. His mother had warned him not to talk to the Queen, as it could be "mercurial".

The Queen was quite intrigued, especially since she was wearing cowboy boots engraved with the words "God Save The Queen". At one point, she asked him if he was the black sheep of the family.

"I suppose so," Bush Junior replied.

"All families have them," observed the Queen.

"Who is yours?" Bush Junior answered, at which time the First Lady, Barbara Bush, intervened with a cry: "Do not answer that!"

Relations between London and Washington cooled to a more commercial level during the Clinton years, in part due to heated disagreements over the Western response to the war in Bosnia.

There was no state visit in any direction in that kind of climate, but the Queen fulfilled her now familiar role as guardian of the "special relationship."

It is possible that the Clintons have not received full royal treatment in Windsor or Buckingham Palace, but in 1994 they were the guests of the Queen for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

Only the Clintons were invited to stay aboard Britannia in Portsmouth before the trip to France the next day, accompanied by leaders from allied and transatlantic nations full of veterans.

Queen Elizabeth II meets US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, in the Great Corridor while visiting Windsor Castle in Berkshire

Queen Elizabeth II meets US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, in the Great Corridor while visiting Windsor Castle in Berkshire

Queen Elizabeth II meets US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, in the Great Corridor while visiting Windsor Castle in Berkshire

They were given cabins nine and 11, the best suite apart from the Queen's. A presidential bodyguard took a position at the door and refused to let anyone in, including the butler who brought the morning coffee from the Clintons.

The president got up early for his exercise routine. Nobody could stop seeing it.

According to Sir Robert Woodard, the captain of Britannia, he put on these neoprene things from DayGlo & # 39; to go around the shipyard.

"He did his push-ups and hip movements for literally five minutes with the whole yacht standing at attention," laughs Woodard. "Then he went down and politely arrived late for breakfast."

Only a handful of senior members of the Royal House were at the breakfast table, along with the Duke of Edinburgh. One remembers the extraordinary moment when Clinton began to describe the ceremonies of World War II that he had attended on the battlefields in Italy the previous day:

"He was talking about visiting the graves of the US At Anzio and suddenly he started crying, which was unexpected."

It would be George W. Bush who became the first American president to make a full state visit to the United Kingdom when he arrived with his wife, Laura, in 2003. The second would be President Obama in 2011, but planning a state visit to USA UU It would be somewhat more problematic by the time the 45th president began his administration.

Just a few weeks after the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017, Theresa May traveled to Washington to meet him. She duly issued an invitation, quickly accepted, for a state visit in the near future.

The plan stalled, however, due to the threat of protests from activists and politicians such as the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, who said that such a state visit would "embarrass" the Queen and the country.

At the event, the President made an "official" visit in July 2018 and was invited, along with the First Lady, to tea with the Queen in Windsor (aware of American tastes, there was also a lot of coffee).

There was not the slightest chance that the Queen would be embarrassed in this way. According to one of her employees, she would be intrigued to meet a head of state who, like her, had a Scottish mother and who, like her, owns a large Scottish countryside area (Balmoral in her case and a couple of golf courses in Trump & # 39; s).

The tea party, in the Oak Room in the private rooms of the Queen, exceeded in 20 minutes.

It remains to be seen if Donald Trump will be mobilized for a full state visit, but, without taking into account, the connection between the White House and the Palace seems to last.

Even the threat of murder did not stop her …

The Queen had the most unlikely of the followers of the Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro.

According to a story told by Sir Sonny Ramphal, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, a Caribbean leftist leader was so interested in pleasing Castro that he confided to him that he was thinking of turning his country into a republic.

"He thought that Fidel would do well, but Fidel said:" Why? Does the Queen intervene?

& # 39; Prime Minister: & # 39; No. & # 39;

& Castro: & # 39; So, why would you do that? You want to be a great tourist island and she is good at showing your stability. Why are you doing that? "& # 39;

Despite this recognition of the monarch's usefulness, reports surfaced of a Castro conspiracy to assassinate the Queen at the 1979 Commonwealth summit in Zambia, then a one-party state under President Kenneth Kaunda.

The crisp debate at the summit was over the dominance of the white minority in neighboring Rhodesia, a problem that causes much division among Commonwealth leaders.

Supposedly, the Queen's would-be assassins hoped to blame the white leaders of Rhodesia and generate enough international outrage to overthrow their regime.

The & # 39; plot later it would turn out to be nonsense. But, alerted to this and other threats, Downing Street expressed serious reservations about sending the queen to a vortex of African violence.

There was, however, a convincing argument in favor of this ostensibly suicidal royal tour: the Queen was very anxious about it. As head of the Commonwealth, she was determined to join the rest of the "club" in Lusaka, with the Duke of Edinburgh at her side, and Prince Andrew, 19, too.

They were already packing and the British High Commission was bombarded with questions, including what Prince Andrew would need for his safari.

He returned the answer: "Normal clothes of bush and thick shoes". Mosquito nets will be provided.

There were weeks of tension between the Palace and senior government officials until, finally, on July 17, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher told the Commons that she was determined: that she would not tell the Queen not to go to Zambia.

It was just as good, because two days later the monarch was on his way, arriving in time to deal with an explosive speech prepared by Kaunda. It is probable that some of its most incendiary passages cause terrible divisions within the Commonwealth.

The Queen intervened personally with Kaunda and the controversial text miraculously disappeared. This set the stage for a harmonious summit in which history was made with Mrs. Thatcher's announcement that she would work with all the parties involved to deliver the "genuine black majority government". in Rhodesia as quickly as possible.

They often tell us "the Queen does not do politics", and in fact she does not.

But for more than seven decades on the throne, there have been times when he has deviated near the line. On this occasion, she was willing to cross it.

Adapted from Queen Of The World by Robert Hardman (Century, £ 25). © Robert Hardman 2018. To request a copy of £ 20 (offer valid until September 20, 2018, free p & p), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640.

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