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When Queen Elizabeth II visited California in 1983

Queen Elizabeth II has been the head of the British monarchy since she was 25. Her time on the throne has taken her around the world many times, including a 10-day trip to California in 1983.

The queen and Prince Philip visited the Golden State in February and March of that year. They were greeted by former President Ronald Regan and former first lady Nancy Reagan upon their arrival to the West Coast, according to the Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.

“Queen Elizabeth II planned on sailing into Santa Barbara on Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia to meet up with President Reagan and Nancy Reagan before heading up to Rancho Del Cielo for lunch and a horseback ride around the property,” the library notes on its website. “A severe storm, which brought more than three times the normal amount of rain to the area, made several last-minute changes to their meeting. The storm was howling and dumping rain on Santa Barbara and the coastline.”

Video of the Reagans greeting Queen Elizabeth II in Goleta, California

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip opted to take a U.S. Air Force plane from Long Beach to Goleta where the royal couple was met by President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Royal author Robert Hardman told the BBC the Queen was “absolutely thrilled” to be invited to Hollywood by the former movie star-turned-politician.

“(The queen) got on very well with Reagan and he had that wonderful visit to Windsor in 1982 when they went riding together in the park,” Hardman told the BBC in March. “He absolutely loved that and said you must come and see Hollywood.”

“She had always wanted to go and if you’re a monarch you always had to go to Washington if you’re the head of state because that’s where it happens,” Hardman said. “Reagan said, look, forget all that, come to Hollywood, and the Queen was actually thrilled to go.”

3/1/1983 President Reagan Nancy Reagan with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during their trip to the Ranch. (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum)

The royal couple’s West Coast tour also included visits to Yosemite National Park, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Angeles City Hall, and Downey.

In Downey, the queen saw a display of the Apollo space capsule, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rainy weather prevented the queen, who was a passionate equestrian, from being able to see California by horseback.

On March 3, 1983, President Reagan hosted a dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. During her remarks, Queen Elizabeth II stated, “I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States, I had not realized before that weather was one of them.” 

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