Entertaining Royalty: The State
Dinner for Queen Elizabeth
B0570-24. President Ford and Queen Elizabeth dance.
B0551-22A. President and Mrs. Ford visit with Queen Elizabeth and Prince
Philip in the Second Floor Family Dining Room before lunch.
and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford hosted a White House dinner in honor of Queen
Elizabeth and Prince Philip on July 7, 1976. The visit by the Queen was
part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the American Revolution.
This page provides a sampling of documents and photographs relating to
that dinner. Please click on any of the images to view
First Lady Betty Ford's Description of the Dinner
from her memoir The Times of My Life, New York:
Harper & Row, 1978,
The Queen was easy to deal with. She was very definite about what she wanted
and what she didn't want. She loves Bob Hope and Telly Savalas, so we invited
Bob Hope and Telly Savalas -- both came -- and if I hadn't kept mixing
up Your Highness and Your Majesty (he's His Highness, she's Her Majesty)
I'd give myself four stars for the way that visit went off.
B0570-06. President Ford toasts Queen Elizabeth.
|We put up a tent for the Queen's dinner.
There were so many state events coming up one right after the other
that without the tent we'd probably have had to close the White House
to the public for a good portion of the summer, and it was the Bicentennial
year and the influx of tourists was heavy. A tent over the Rose Garden
would be the answer, just a great white tent which would also enable
us to invite more guests than we could have served indoors. (For
indoor dining, the White House can handle 150 people at one time,
and that's pushing it.)
|An hour and a half before the Queen's dinner, there
was a sudden downpour with torrential rain, thunder, lightning. Three
trees on the White House grounds were struck. Fortunately, I'd insisted
that our tent have a floor. (1'd been thinking of an outdoor party
the Nixons had given for some newly released prisoners of war and
their wives. It had been raining for three days, and the chairs just
gradually sank into the ground. And all those poor wives, who'd gone
out and bought beautiful new shoes, ruined them in the mud.) "We'll
have a floor and a carpet," I'd said. "It will be just like a room."
B0562-34. President Ford introduces Cary Grant to Queen Elizabeth
in the receiving line prior to the dinner (cropped).
I'd seen it done at the French Embassy and
been very impressed, a room added right onto the building beyond
some French doors. It was heated and had red velvet walls and crystal
chandeliers hanging from tent poles and paintings against the velvet,
and you couldn't believe you were outside.
I went to Rex Scouten, because he knew what
could be done, and what funds were available to do it with, and
which people we could ask for more money. Americans were generous
during the Bicentennial year, and so were numbers of foreign visitors,
who wanted to pay their respects to the country on its two-hundredth
birthday. Lots of them made donations to the Kennedy Center and
to the White House.
For the Queen's dinner, we had violinists stationed
along the paths, and to be out in the gorgeous night air, with
the moon shining down and the violins playing as you walked by,
B0570-13. President Ford acknowledges the toast of Queen Elizabeth.
Prince Philip and
Mrs. Ford dance.
Photograph Ordering Information