The ‘Special Relationship’ – A History of Meetings Between British Monarchs and U.S. Presidents

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 JOHN ADAMS AND GEORGE III

Painting of John Adams by Asher B. Durand. (Naval Historical Center)

While it wasn’t until the twentieth century that sitting presidents met reigning kings or queens, there are, nevertheless, examples of monarchs who met Americans before they became presidents.

It might strike us as incongruous that Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, all architects of the American Revolution, met King George III, a man they regarded as a tyrant, after the Revolution, but they did, in their capacities as diplomats for the new nation. Adams and Monroe were ambassadors to Great Britain, as were Presidents John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan.

In 1785, John Adams, just shy of 50, was appointed “Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James.” The first meeting of the future president and King George, as described by David McCullough in his biography of Adams, was portrayed in the HBO miniseries based on the book.

Adams grew disillusioned with his posting and shut down the legation three years later.

NEXT: Woodrow Wilson and George V

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