The royal family has been visiting the United States for over 80 years now, touching lives in states across the nation along the way. While official tours—and even impromptu visits—come with a range of important duties, they typically also allow for public-facing moments of downtime and celebrity-studded fun. From King George VI and the future Queen Mother's very first hot dog to Prince Charles's date with Tricia Nixon, these photos show just how many memories have been made in the United States. With Prince William visiting in New York City this week for the Earthshot Prize Summit, there's no better time to look back at the best royal visits to the U.S. throughout history.
King George VI and the future Queen Mother were the very first British royals to travel to the U.S. in 1939. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the royals zip down the streets of New York on the way to the Commander-in-Chief's Top Cottage retreat.
The King and Queen sail aboard the presidential yacht to Mount Vernon, New York. During a picnic with the President and First Lady, they both tried a hot dog for the very first time!
Here, King George VI and the future Queen Mother stand on the Capitol steps with senators from around the country.
Then-Princess Elizabeth made her first trip to the U.S. in 1951, where she met with President Harry Truman. “Whenever anyone becomes acquainted with you,” he told her at the time, “they immediately fall in love.”
Queen Elizabeth returned six years later for her first state visit as monarch. She appeared to enjoy her first and only college football game in Maryland, where she famously asked, "Where do you get all those enormous players?"
The Queen and Prince Philip tour one of the ships at Jamestown Festival Park's pier during a stop in Virginia.
On a state visit in 1959, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ride an electric car through the International Chicago Trade Fair.
Princess Margaret and her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones ride one of San Francisco's famous cable cars on their trip to sunny California in November 1965.
Margaret takes in the view from atop the city's iconic Coit Tower.
During a stop in Hollywood, the royals visit Alfred Hitchcock on set of his film Torn Curtain.
Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon take riding lessons at the Arizona ranch of former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, Lewis Douglas.
The pair stop in Washington, D.C. toward the end of their trip to take in sights like the Lincoln Memorial.
During his first visit to the States as Prince of Wales, Prince Charles gets cozy with President Richard Nixon's daughter, Tricia, at a baseball game. “That was quite amusing, I must say,” he later told CNN of the trip. “That was the time when they were trying to marry me off to Tricia Nixon.”
Princess Anne joins her brother on the White House balcony, alongside President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon.
Queen Elizabeth dances with President Gerald Ford at a White House State Dinner during her 1976 East Coast visit.
Queen Elizabeth drops by Philadelphia’s famous Liberty Bell.
The monarch waves at onlookers as she passes the iconic Bloomingdale's flagship store in New York City.
Prince Charles returned to America in 1977, where he toured the McDonnell Douglas plant in St. Louis. Here, founder James S. McDonnell shows off a F-15 Eagle jet fighter.
The future king makes a stop in California, where he visits the set of M*A*S*H. The actors, including Alan Alda, share a laugh with the royal over an inflated surgical glove.
Prince Charles continues to mingle with Hollywood stars—like Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors—at a banquet held in his honor at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
While in Downey, California, Queen Elizabeth receives a tour of both the Apollo 14 and Space Shuttle models at the Rockwell International Space Facility.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana chat with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan inside the West Sitting Hall of the White House.
At a dinner in Cross Hall at the White House, Princess Diana shares a now-famous dance with John Travolta. First Lady Nancy Reagan actually helped the two of them meet. "Oh yes you can," Reagan told Travolta when he expressed that he "couldn't possibly" ask the royal to dance.
During a polo match in Palm Beach, Florida, Princess Diana hands out prizes to the participants—including her husband.
Four years later, Princess Di made her first official trip overseas without Prince Charles. After arriving in New York City, she visits the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side, a nonprofit providing resources and services to residents in need.
In what eventually became known as the "talking hat" speech, Queen Elizabeth famously presents President George H. W. Bush with the Winston Churchill Award from behind a podium that was too tall for her 5'4" frame.
The monarch makes Congress laugh two days later by joking, "I do hope you can see me today."
Shortly after her divorce, Lady Di travelled back to the United States for a fundraising event for the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research. She is seen laughing with Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, designer Ralph Lauren, and Georgetown University President Leo J. O'Donovan.
Here, Diana visits what's now known as the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago.
A few months later, Diana returns to the Big Apple for the Met Gala, wearing this now-iconic Versace gown and statement jewelry.
Prince Edward accepts the Bette Davis Special Achievement Award at Boston University for his work in documentary filmmaking.
Princess Anne is presented with a collection of historic seeds to celebrate the opening of Manhattan's British Royal Garden.
Queen Elizabeth eagerly points something out to Prince Philip while watching the Kentucky Derby. With her love of both fashionable hats and horses, she fit right in at the event.
The Duchess of Cornwall gets a close-up view of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia that same year.
A whopping 53 years after her first United Nations address, Queen Elizabeth makes her return in 2010 in New. York. "It is my hope that when judged by future generations, our sincerity, our willingness to take a lead and our determination to do the right thing will stand the test of time," she said at the time.
Later that day, the monarch lays a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center. It was the first time she visited Ground Zero since the September 11th terrorist attacks nine years earlier.
Prince William and Kate Middleton make a trip of their own the following year. Here, they giggle through a painting class held at Inner City Arts in Los Angeles.
The newlyweds share a kiss following William's participation in the Foundation Polo Challenge in Santa Barbara.
While attending the BAFTA Brits to Watch event, they mingle with stars like Jennifer Lopez.
William and Kate shake hands with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton during a reception in New York City.
While in town, the couple stop by Brooklyn's Barclays Center to take in a basketball game. They were seen sharing popcorn...
Appearing on the jumbotron...
Chatting it up with Jay-Z and Beyoncé...
And even receiving some gifts from LeBron James!
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall speak with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office in the White House.
Meghan Markle cheers on close friend Serena Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York. She's sitting with the tennis star's family and friends, like Venus Williams and Anna Wintour.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle share an intimate moment before he gives a keynote address to the United Nations in New York City.
In December 2022 Prince William met with President Joe Biden at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston while in town to announce the awards for the second annual Earthshot Prize.
As part of his September trip to New York City, Prince William paid a visit to Governors Island to learn about the Billion Oyster Project and meet students from the New York Harbor School. William was in the city for The Earthshot Prize Summit 2023 ahead of the Awards Ceremony in Singapore in November.
William also undertook a series of meetings, including one with President Lasso Mendoza of Ecuador at the Consul General Official Residence at United Nations, which happened to be decorated with an image of William's late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
You Might Also Like