Did LBJ Reject The Queen's Invitation to Visit the U.K.?

President Lyndon B. Johnson in White House
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In the second episode of The Crown season 3, aptly titled "Margaretology," Princess Margaret is presented as a makeshift U.S. ambassador forced to step in when Queen Elizabeth II's efforts to get U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson to England fail. The episode, which culminates in Princess Margaret's successful, if untraditional, negotiation to a financial bailout, suggests that the Queen extended an offer to LBJ to visit more than once—invitations that LBJ rejected or ignored. This, as any The Crown fan knows, is unusual, to say the least. So: did it happen?

In short: There's no evidence such a thing happened. The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library tweeted last July that, for reasons that aren't clear, LBJ and the Queen never met. (By comparison, LBJ and Harold Wilson, another key figure in season 3, met a handful of times, and Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon attended a White House dinner during her notorious U.S. tour in 1965).

Wrote the archivists in a statement from the LBJ Presidential Library: "President Johnson and Queen Elizabeth corresponded from March 1964 to July 1967. Nothing serious—congratulations on births, birthday wishes, and a condolence message after the death of Churchill. Queen Elizabeth never sent an invitation to President Johnson to visit Great Britain. And, President Johnson never sent an invitation to the Queen to visit the United States."

It's odd, really, the fact that these two never met. "We do not know why. (We've been asked this question before and have not found a specific reason.)" added the LBJ Library in its statement. The Queen did visit the U.S. in 1991, and met LBJ's wife, First Lady Lady Bird at that time, but didn't meet LBJ; the Johnson administration apparently planed two trips to Europe that may have included a trip to England, but both fell through, per the LBJ Library.

Even when LBJ was vice president to President John F. Kennedy, he and the Queen never met (even when JFK and the Queen met in 1961), the statement added. It's possible that they met at a State Dinner in the Queen's honor in 1957—at the time, LBJ was Senate Majority Leader—but that's not entirely clear, either. If we assume they didn't meet, then LBJ is literally the only U.S. President (of 12!) during the Queen's reign to have never met her.

The White House Historical Association confirms the LBJ Library's account via a page on its website: "Queen Elizabeth II never met President Lyndon Johnson during his presidency and was unable to attend John F. Kennedy's funeral because she was pregnant with Prince Edward."

The "Margaretology" episode also stretches the truth when it comes to Margaret's White House visit—which did happen, but was nowhere near as successful as The Crown suggests. In fact, Princess Margaret's tour in general was not as well-received as The Crown suggests, especially because she insulted a handful of celebrities along the way (she described Elizabeth Taylor's engagement ring as "vulgar," in just one example). That said, ultimately we don't really know what happened during Margaret's White House dinner—not much has been written about it, unlike the rest of her tour—nor do we know why, exactly, the Queen and LBJ never met. The Crown, it seems, is taking those spaces in historical knowledge and filling in the gaps.


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