Across the Pond

William and Kate in America: Other British Royal Visits to the Yanks

William and Kate, who arrive Friday, are the first of many British royals to visit America. See photos.

William and Kate will land on U.S. soil Friday for their first official visit. From William’s great-grandfather’s first trip in 1939, members of Britain’s royal family have voyaged to America several times. See photos of previous royal visits.

AP Photo

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, 1939

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were the first reigning British monarchs to ever set foot on American soil. Their trip came at a crucial time for both Britain and the U.S., as Europe was on the brink of war and President Roosevelt wanted to help boost American support in favor of the British. Roosevelt needn’t have worried—Americans’ love affair with British royalty began in earnest. Thunderous applause greeted the royal couple when they arrived in Washington on June 8 for their five-day stay. After they were two days in Washington, the president and the first lady took the king and queen to Hyde Park, the Roosevelt’s home in New York. In a letter to her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, Elizabeth called the Roosevelts “a charming and united family” and wrote that they were “living so like the English people when they come to their country house.” The royal couple must have good manners, since the Roosevelts served them hot dogs at the picnic—and the details were later published on the front page of the New York Times.

White House Photo Office Collection / Richard Nixon Library

Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1970

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, also known as the former King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, were frequent visitors to the U.S.—they even leased an apartment in New York for their visits. The duke and duchess were considered pariahs in Britain, as Edward abdicated his throne to be with Wallis in 1937, setting off an abdication crisis. After the abdication, the couple moved to France, and they settled in Paris after World War II. But they still frequently visited the U.S., as the duchess was originally from Baltimore. In 1970, President Richard Nixon threw a white-tie state dinner in their honor.

White House / AP Photo

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 1976

Any hard feelings in the wake of the American Revolution clearly had dissipated after 200 years. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Washington, D.C. on an official state visit in 1976, in honor of the U.S.’s bicentennial. President Gerald Ford hosted a state dinner for the royal couple on July 17, 1976. On the three-day trip, the queen also visited Philadelphia, New York City, Charlottesville, Newport, Providence and Boston.

Ed Reinke / AP Photo

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 1983

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited the Western U.S. on a 10-day trip in 1983, stopping in San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, and Seattle. The queen had made four previous trips to the U.S., but she had never visited the West Coast before. The trip had a glamorous edge, starting with 6,000 San Diego residents who greeted her arrival. While in Los Angeles, the queen had wanted to see a Los Angeles studio, so she visited the old 20th Century Fox lot—and First Lady Nancy Reagan, turned the lot into a royal party. About the only thing not to conform with the royals’ expectations was the weather, as California was in the middle of an epic rainstorm—prompting the queen to quip “I knew before we came that we have exported many of our traditions to the United States, but I was not aware weather was one of them.”

Mary Anne Fackelman-Miner, White House / AP Photo

Prince Charles and Princess Diana, 1985

Prince Charles and Princess Diana first visited the U.S. together in 1985—a visit that caused Americans to go “star struck” over the couple. The pair kicked off the trip with a visit to the White House, where President Reagan flubbed Diana’s name, saying “Permit me to add our congratulations to Prince Charles on his birthday just five days away, and also express our great happiness that  … er … Princess David—Princess Diane here on her first trip to the United States.” The state dinner had movie-star guests such as Clint Eastwood, John Travolta, Tom Selleck and the singer Neil Diamond—and it produced one of the most iconic photos of Diana, one that featured her and Travolta on the dance floor. On Veterans’ Day, they visited Arlington National Cemetery and rounded out the trip with a visit to Palm Beach.

Greg Gibson / AP Photo

Queen Elizabeth II, 1991

Queen Elizabeth II made a nine-day visit to the U.S. in 1991, her third state visit and her eighth trip overall (the others were designated as official or personal). She stopped in Washington, Florida, Texas and Kentucky, with a range of activities from a state dinner to a Baltimore Orioles baseball game to a visit to the Alamo. The queen also awarded Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf an honorary knighthood for his service during Operation Desert Storm. Upon receiving the honor, Schwarzkopf called the queen “a lovely lady” and said “I think they go out of their way to make sure people don’t get nervous.”

Jim Bourg, Reuters / Newscom

Princess Diana, 1994

Only two months after Prince Charles’ BBC interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, Princess Diana took a sojourn to Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation. On the ultra-private trip, she stayed at the home of Lucia Flecha de Lima, the wife of Brazil’s ambassador to the U.S., and took a yacht trip to the home of Sargent and Eunice Shriver.

Alastair Grant / AP Photo

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 2005

On their first official trip as a married couple, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, stopped in three cities—New York, Washington and San Francisco. In Washington, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush hosted a state dinner for the couple. It was the prince’s first official trip to the U.S. since he had visited with Diana in 1985, although he had been scheduled to return in the autumn of 2001—a trip canceled due to security concerns. On their trip, Charles and Camilla paid their respects to the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks, stopping at Ground Zero during the 10-day tour.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 2007

The queen and Prince Philip returned to the U.S. in 2007 for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. On the six-day trip, they visited Williamsburg, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and, of course, the Kentucky Derby. The trip also included a stop to visit some of the victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and also a stop at the National World War II Memorial in Washington. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush also hosted a state dinner for the couple.

Richard Drew / AP Photo

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 2010

On her seventh official trip as a reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth visited New York in 2010 for the third time. The first time she visited, in 1957, she stayed 15 days, and remarked that “a visit to New York for just a day is really a teaser,”. She also addressed the 82-nation United Nations General Assembly.  Fifty-three years later, the queen addressed the U.N. General Assembly once again—though this time the organization boasted 192 member countries. Various other dignitaries were on hand. The queen also visited Ground Zero and dedicated a garden in Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan to the British victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks.