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Remembering Queen Elizabeth II: Betty Ford recalls Queen's visit to White House

President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford hosted a White House dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on July 7, 1976.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest reigning head of state, died at the age of 96 on Thursday.

The Queen was coronated on Feb. 6, 1952 and reigned over the country through many milestones as the British Empire shrunk and the kingdom transitioned to its new role in an ever smaller world.

During her time as Queen she met many heads of state, including meeting with 13 of the last 14 sitting U.S. Presidents with Lyndon Johnson being the only president since the '50s to not meet with the British head of state.

In 1976, Queen Elizabeth II traveled to the White House to meet with President Ford as he was nearing the end of his term in office. The visit was part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the American Revolution.

First Lady Betty Ford recalled the event in her memoir "The Times of My Life," published in 1978.

In order to accommodate the Queen and other guests for the celebration, Betty Ford asked for a tent to be set up in the Rose Garden for the reception and dinner.

"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," the First Lady recalled in her memoir.

Ford would go on to tell of how beautifully the tent was prepared with red velvet walls, crystal chandeliers and paintings hanging on the walls.

After President Ford heard that the Queen was a fan of Bob Hope and Captain & Tennille, he was sure to invite them to perform, which they both did. Toni Tennille recalled in an interview with PEOPLE in 2016 that Betty Ford specifically asked them to play ‘The Way I Want to Touch You,’ which they originally thought would have been too intimate for a White House performance.

Tennille also recalls that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger looked miserable during the performance and she says the Queen actually "nodded off."

The dinner at the event included an entrée of "New England Lobster en Bellevue," a "Saddle of Veal," a "Garden Salad" and a "Peach Ice Cream Bombe with Fresh Raspberries" for dessert.

"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," Betty Ford concluded in her telling of the visit.

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