President Kennedy and his wife Jackie traveled to London to meet the royals in 1961

The gift that President Kennedy gave to Queen Elizabeth during their meeting at Buckingham Palace in June 1961 may surprise you.

In 2017, Vogue reported that Kennedy gifted the Queen a photograph of himself, in a silver Tiffany & Co. frame. He signed it “To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with appreciation and highest esteem, John F. Kennedy.”

What a modest gift right?!

However, as it turns out, this 1961 visit was not an official “state visit,” Therefore, no extravagant offering was necessary.

Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline planned to save their real gift for the British monarch for their official state visit later in his presidency. Tragically, this visit never occurred as JFK was assassinated in November 1963, in Dallas.

It turns out that the Queen must have been quite taken with John F Kennedy’s 1961 gift. It seems that the Queen gifts all her visiting dignitaries with the same gift – a small, silver-framed signed photograph of herself.

After his meeting with the royals, President Kennedy penned a note to the Queen which read: “May I also at the same time say how grateful my wife and I are for the cordial hospitality offered to us by your Majesty and Prince Philip during our visit to London last Monday.”

"We shall always cherish the memory of that delightful evening," he wrote. 

The meeting between the two leaders was significant for several reasons. For one, it marked the first time a sitting U.S. president had met with a reigning British monarch. Additionally, the meeting came at a time when the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom was of utmost importance. The two countries were facing significant challenges, including the ongoing Cold War and the fight against communism.

The meeting was widely regarded as a success. It helped to solidify the strong relationship between the two countries and demonstrated the importance of diplomacy in addressing global challenges. The meeting also set the stage for future cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom, including joint military operations and intelligence sharing.

*Originally published in November 2019. Updated in April 2023.