The Reagan Ranch: A Tradition of Historic Visits
As Santa Barbara welcomes the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this week, the Reagan Ranch Center will be sharing the history of world leaders and dignitaries that have visited Santa Barbara in the past. President Reagan’s Ranch, Rancho del Cielo, served as the backdrop for many of these significant visits including that of Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Prime Ministry Mulroney, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Reagan Ranch Center Exhibit Galleries will be open to the public for special visitation hours on Saturday, July 9 from 10 am – 4 pm. This Reagan 100 Gallery event, The Reagan Ranch: A Tradition of Historic Visits, will explore these significant visits to the “Western White House” highlighting the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in March of 1983 through artifacts related to her visit.
Any members of the press, that wish to schedule interviews or arrange tours, muse contact Assistant Curator Danielle Fowler at 805-957-1980. More information about the Royal visit of Queen Elizabeth and other dignitary visits is provided below:
March 1, 1983: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit Rancho del Cielo
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Ranch on March 1, 1983 amidst one of the worst rainstorms in Santa Barbara history. Torrential downpour and fog made it impossible for Their Royal Highnesses to helicopter up to the Reagan Ranch. The Reagans travelled down from the Ranch to meet them at the Santa Barbara Airport. The Queen visited local attractions including the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and the Mission before travelling with a Secret Service escort to the Ranch.
Early plans of horseback riding at the Ranch had to be cancelled from the official schedule, as conditions were unsafe for both horse and rider. The Reagans hosted the Queen and Prince in the main Ranch adobe over a Tex-Mex meal of enchiladas, tacos, and refried beans. The Queen afterwards referred to the ride up to the Ranch as “adventurous.” Reagan wrote a thank you letter to the Queen following her visit:
We miss you. I know your visit to our West Coast became a harrowing, tempest-tossed experience but through it all your unfailing good humor and graciousness won the hearts of our people.
Two days following the Royals’ visit to the Ranch President Reagan spoke at a special dinner event honoring the Queen in the Hearst Court of the De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco. The Queen replied to his remarks:
Mr. President, thank you for the very kind things you have said tonight. It is only nine months since we had the great pleasure of having you and Mrs. Reagan stay with us at Windsor Castle. Now, we have had the memorable experience of visiting you in your home state of California and of seeing your ranch at Santa Barbara. I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States. But I had not realized before that weather was one of them…But, Mr. President, if the climate has been cool, your welcome and that of the American people have been wonderfully warm… We are very grateful for your charming hospitality and for the generous reception we have had everywhere since our arrival in California last week…We have had a visit which has been spectacular and has fulfilled a long-standing ambition on my part to visit California on the west coast. What better time than when the President is a Californian?
The Reagans also hosted several dignitaries at the Ranch throughout the presidency including Vice President Bush, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. These additional events are listed below:
June 27, 1981: Vice President and Mrs. Bush visit the Ranch
Vice President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara visit the Ranch. This is the first of several visits to the Ranch by the Vice President.
May 3, 1992: Secretary and Mrs. Gorbachev visit the Ranch
The Reagans host Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev at the Ranch. Only five months earlier, on December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned as leader of the Soviet Union, thereby also permanently disbanding the USSR itself–leaving only Russia, its principal part.
February 7, 1993: British Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher visits the Ranch
On a foggy day in February following the celebration of the President’s birthday at the Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, the previous night, Lady Margaret Thatcher, 71st Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, visits the Reagans at the Ranch.
April 5, 1993: Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney visits the Ranch
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney helicopters to the Ranch for a visit and dinner with Reagan. Years later he describes his meetings with Reagan as “having a conversation with history.”
As the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement for 40 years, Young America’s Foundation introduces thousands of young people to conservative ideas through national conferences, campus lectures and activism programs, internships, and seminars at the Reagan Ranch and the Reagan Ranch Center. Young America’s Foundation preserves the Reagan Ranch as a premier presidential property and a tribute to Ronald Reagan’s life and ideas.