July 29, 1918

In July 1918, in his capacity as Assistant Secretary of the US Navy, Franklin Roosevelt made a visit to Great Britain. He was greeted in Portsmouth and then driven by car to London, where he was billeted at the Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly.

Roosevelt toured the British and American bases at the invitation of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Eric Geddes, and met with a number of officials including PM David Lloyd George and Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour. He was particularly pleased to have been granted an audience for forty-five minutes with King George VI.

During this official trip, Roosevelt attended a dinner at Gray’s Inn in London where he first met Winston Churchill. He was thoroughly unimpressed. He wrote later that, ‘I always disliked him [Churchill] since the time I went to England in 1917 or 1918. At a dinner I attended he acted like a stinker’. To make matters worse, Churchill later failed to recall this first meeting.
First impressions notwithstanding, during WWII they became great friends and confidants.

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