Fast Facts

  • The Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and Revolutionary War hero, was the first foreign dignitary to address the House of Representatives. Lafayette delivered a speech before a meeting in the House Chamber on December 10, 1824.
  • The first non-head of state to address a Joint Meeting of Congress was Polish Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa in 1989. Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress addressed a Joint Session in 1990.
  • The first religious leader to address a Joint Meeting was England’s Queen Elizabeth II on May 16, 1991. The British Monarch is also the head of the Anglican Church. Her father, King George VI, attended a reception in the Capitol Rotunda on June 9, 1939, but no address was given.
  • Including Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, who addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress on 30 April 2015, there have been 117 Joint Meeting addresses delivered by foreign leaders and dignitaries extending back to King David Kalakaua of Hawaii in 1874.
  • Including Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, 112 leaders or dignitaries have addressed Joint Meetings of Congress. (Winston Churchill, Binyamin Netanyahu, Nelson Mandela, and Yitzak Rabin have addressed Congress multiple times.)
  • Eleven (11) monarchs or royalty have addressed Joint Meetings of Congress
  • Twelve (12) women have addressed Joint Meetings of Congress. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands was the first (3 April 1952). Others who followed include: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (21 April 1982), UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (20 February 1985), Philippine President Corazon C. Aquino (18 September 1986), Prime Minister of Pakistan (7 June 1989), Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (16 April 1991), Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (16 May 1991), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia (15 March 2006), Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia (7 June 2006), Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (3 November 2009), Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia (9 March 2011), and Park Geun Hye, President of the Republic of Korea (8 May 2013).
  • Two different families have had multiple generations of descendents address the Congress. Both Queen Juliana (1952), and her daughter Queen Beatrix (1982) have addressed Joint Meetings. Queen Wilhelmina (Juliana’s mother and Beatrix’s grandmother) addressed the Senate with the House as an invited guest in 1942. Both King Hussein I (1994) and King Hussein II (2007) have addressed Joint Meetings.
  • The years in which the greatest number of foreign leaders or dignitaries have addressed Joint Meetings of Congress: 1976 (5), 1985 (5), 1954 (4), 1959 (4), 1960 (4), 1989 (4), and 1994 (4).
  • France, Great Britain, and Israel have the distinction of sending the most leaders or dignitaries to deliver Joint Meeting addresses before Congress, with eight Joint Meeting addresses by heads of state or dignitaries a piece. In descending order other countries leading the list of Joint Meeting addresses include: Mexico (7), Italy (6), Ireland (6), the Republic of Korea (6), Germany, including West Germany and unified Germany (5),  India (4), Canada (3), Argentina (3), Australia (3), and the Philippines (3).
  • Winston Churchill and Binyamin Netanyahu have made more addresses to Congress than any other individuals. Churchill addressed Joint Meetings in 1941, 1943, and 1952; Netanyahu addressed Joint Meetings in 1996, 2011, and 2015. Nelson Mandela of South Africa has addressed Congress twice, in 1990 and 1994. Yitzak Rabin of Israel also addressed Joint Meetings of Congress on two occasions, in 1976 and 1994.