Royal recipe for a president: How the Queen anchored a ‘special relationship’ with America that could now be under pressure | American News

In January 1960, a letter arrived at the White House in Washington.

It was for the president, and it contained a recipe for drop scones.

“Dear Mr. President”, he said. “Seeing a photo of you in the paper today standing in front of a quail barbecuing reminded me that I never sent you the recipe for the drop scones, which I provided to you at Balmoral .

“Now I hasten to do so, and I hope you find them successful.”

It was a letter from Queen to President Dwight Eisenhower. She was honoring a culinary promise she had made to him a year earlier.

The informal handwritten letter is a hint of a close relationship and perhaps a nod to what was to become an enduring “special relationship” between Britain and America.

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The Queen with US President Dwight Eisenhower

As Queen, Elizabeth has met all but one US president since Eisenhower, but he was the one she had the closest connection to.

She was the Wartime Princess and Eisenhower was the Wartime General, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who oversaw Operation Torch in North Africa and Operation Overlord (D-Day) in the North of France.

They had met and bonded during and after the war, in London and Balmoral.

Learn more about the Queen and the United States:
Dancing with Ford to a breach of protocol with Carter – the Queen’s meetings with 13 US presidents

“It’s very moving because World War II was one of those conflicts that really bound people together,” the president’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, told me.

“You talk about the Supreme Allied Commander and the Royal Family, who have truly played an extraordinary role in inspiring Britain and the world during this really very dangerous time,” she said. “This is where the special relationship begins in a serious way.”

The search for this story allowed for an indulgence in the video archives. The Queen’s first state visit to America in 1957 was a remarkable sight.

Mark Stone talks with Susan Eisenhower about his grandfather's Dwight special relationship with Queen Elizabeth and his 1957 visit to New York
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A monochrome New York, based on images from the Queen’s first state visit to the United States

The black-and-white film shows her approaching New York by boat. Manhattan’s skyline of skyscrapers, still breathtaking today, must have been something quite extraordinary at the time.

The ticker tape parade down the avenues of Manhattan shows the remarkable enthusiasm this nation had for the British royal family.

“The way my grandparents chose to mark her first visit to the United States as queen really underscored the intimacy of that friendship,” Ms. Eisenhower tells me.

Other images show the Queen and Prince Phillip with President Eisenhower and the First Lady. They seem relaxed; the link is clear.

The First Lady insisted that the royal couple stay at the White House itself. Foreign dignitaries usually stay in the nearby Blair House.

Mark Stone talks with Susan Eisenhower about his grandfather's special relationship with Queen Elizabeth
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Mark Stone speaks with Susan Eisenhower about his grandfather’s special relationship with the Queen

“The Queen’s Bedroom”

“My grandparents insisted that she be treated as a family guest, and she stayed in a room that was often used by out-of-town guests,” Ms. Eisenhower recalled.

“But my grandmother quickly dubbed it the Queen’s bedroom and put it in a special category, really, where only the most important guests to the President and First Lady would allow anyone to stay.”

The oft-quoted special relationship has grown from here and through so many presidencies too.

It was the Queen, not the politicians, who anchored the transatlantic friendship. Politicians came and went. She was the constant.

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Watching how America marked its death last week has been fascinating.

“I’m going to miss this woman very much. It’s so interesting. I know all Americans feel that way, but she was really kind of a queen to all of us and a true North Star to us,” Ms. Eisenhower said.

More than 200 years after the United States declared its independence from the British crown, Americans remain particularly connected to Great Britain and its royal family.

Wall-to-wall coverage

Cable news networks have gone wall to wall with their coverage; anchors sent to London for nearly every show on every network.

The comment has not been without significant critical analysis (not so evident in the UK) – “Mourn the Queen, not her Empire” was the headline of The New York Times on the day of her death.

But overall, the more vocal reflections were affectionate and suggest many in this country adored the woman she was and found a cute curiosity with the institution she represented.

It is, after all, the nation that invented the Disney princess and lapped up Downton Abbey and The Crown. The passing of the real deal was always going to have a huge impact on this side of the pond.

More seriously, however, I sense an envy among Americans. Over the decades, they’ve observed a unifying queen, an apolitical central figure in society of a kind they don’t have.

And now ? How will the special relationship evolve?

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth and U.S. President Bill Clinton toast after the Queen's Speech at the Guildhall Dinner in Portsmouth, Britain June 4, 1994 REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
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A toast to friendship: The Queen and President Bill Clinton in 1994

In his reflections, President Biden remarked on the “constancy” of the Queen. She anchored the relationship.

President Bill Clinton once remarked that the Queen had the qualities of a politician and a diplomat, but the ability to never appear to be either. Can the same be said of King Charles?

King Charles doesn’t have the Queen’s affinity for America, and Prime Minister Liz Truss hasn’t (yet) acknowledged the special relationship in the same way as those who came before her.

So what was the secret of the scones?

When it comes to cooking tips, will more recipes be shared between royals and presidents? We will see. But here, for posterity, are the Queen’s scone pointers to a President.

“I usually put in less flour and milk, but use the other ingredients as directed,” the queen wrote.

“I’ve also tried using golden syrup or molasses instead of just sugar, and I think that can be really good too. I think the mixture needs a lot of beating during preparation and shouldn’t not stay too long before cooking.”

Watch and follow the Queen's funeral on TV, web and apps on Monday from 9am
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Watch and follow the Queen’s funeral on TV, web and apps on Monday from 9am
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