100 Years of US Presidential Visits to the United Kingdom

Woodrow Wilson rides in a carriage through London in 1918
Woodrow Wilson rides in a carriage through London in 1918 | © Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Chloe-Rose Crabtree
History Editor13 July 2018

Woodrow Wilson was the first US president to visit London in an official capacity in December 1918. Nearly a century on, and with President Trump’s visit on the horizon, Culture Trip takes a look at other US presidents who made it to the British isles during their time in office.

Woodrow Wilson

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Granger/REX/Shutterstock (8765039a) Wilson & George V, 1918. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson Rides In A Carriage To Buckingham Palace Beside King George V Of England, Shortly After Wilson'S Arrival In London, 26 December 1918. Wilson & George V, 1918. | © Granger/REX/Shutterstock

In December 1918, Woodrow Wilson was welcomed to London by streets flooded with revelers, no doubt relieved that World War II was coming to an end. The event, which took place on Boxing Day, can be seen in this remarkable video.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nara Archives/REX/Shutterstock (2152915a) Balmoral, Scotland: President Of The United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower Stands Outside Balmoral Castle With Members Of The British Royal Family, August 29, 1959. Left To Right: Prince Philip, Princess Anne The President Queen Elizabeth II And Prince Charles. The President Was Visiting England For Top Level Talks With British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan Various | © Nara Archives/REX/Shutterstock

In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower had an informal visit with Harold Macmillan in Chequers (the official country house of UK prime ministers) and spent time with the royal family in Scotland.

John F. Kennedy

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip host Queen’s Dinner for President and Mrs. Kennedy, June 1961 | © John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

As dramatised in what is arguably the most remarkable episode of Netflix’s The Crown, John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie had a private visit with Queen Elizabeth II and Macmillan in 1961.

Richard Nixon

President Nixon visiting Buckingham Palace with Britain's royal family | © Oliver F. Atkins/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/ Wikimedia

In February 1969, Richard Nixon also came on an informal visit to Britain, where he held conversations with former prime minister Harold Wilson and lunched at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip.

Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter visiting the UK for an economic summit in 1977 | © National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons

In May 1977, Jimmy Carter attended an economic summit in London, along with heads of state from Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the (then) Federal Republic of Germany to find a solution for the economic crisis that was affecting much of the world at the time.

Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II riding horses in 1982 | © Michael Evans/Wikimedia Commons

Ronald Reagan made visits to London in 1982, 1984 and 1988, each time he met with Queen Elizabeth II, and Margaret Thatcher, with whom he worked closely on economic policies.

George H. W. Bush

President and Mrs. Bush arrive Buckingham Palace | © George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/Wikimedia Commons

Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush, continued working closely with Thatcher, and visited London in 1989.

Bill Clinton

Mandatory Credit: Photo by NILS JORGENSEN/REX/Shutterstock (251786i) Prince Philip, Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II AND PRESIDENT Bill Clinton CLINTONS MEETING QUEEN ELIZABETH II AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE, LONDON, BRITAIN - 1995 | © NILS JORGENSEN/REX/Shutterstock

Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also made a trip across the pond to rub elbows with the royals. In 1994, Bill Clinton was awarded an honorary degree from Oxford University.

George W. Bush

Us President George W Bush and Queen Elizabeth | © Luke Frazza/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Just over a decade after his parents met with the queen, George W. Bush met with Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair in July 2001. After the events of 9/11, Bush would conduct four more visits to the UK before the end of his presidency.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are welcomed by Queen Elizabeth II to Buckingham Palace, April 2009 | © Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons

In 2009, Barack and Michelle Obama made their first trip London in an official capacity. Their final official visit in April 2016 marks the last time an American president has visited the UK.

As people gather across the country to protest President Trump’s visit, it will be interesting to see what photos will round out 100 years of presidential visits. Hopefully they amount to more than a comical blimp over the London skyline.

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