Arrival fit for a queen

Va. extends royal welcome

Elizabeth II arrives for 6-day U.S. tour, reflects on legacy of Jamestown colony

May 04, 2007|By Sumathi Reddy | Sumathi Reddy,Sun Reporter


An article in yesterday's editions of The Sun about Queen Elizabeth II's visit should have described Jamestown, founded in1607, as the first permanent English colony in America. The "Lost Colony" of Roanoke was founded two decades earlier but did not last.

RICHMOND, Va. -- The rain cleared for just a moment, it seemed, and there she was, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, looking every bit the part.

In a long lilac jacket with a fuchsia hat, the queen strolled from the Governor's Mansion to the Capitol, surveying the furiously camera-snapping crowd that filled the lawn around her. She smiled and nodded, stopping to talk to some in the VIP crowd as they placed into her white-gloved hands bouquets of flowers, which she delicately passed to her ladies in waiting.

But the 81-year-old British monarch brought more than pageantry to Virginia yesterday, where she and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, began a six-day tour of the United States, made in honor of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first English colony here.

Addressing a joint session of the Virginia Legislature, the queen acknowledged the vast cultural changes that have taken place since she visited Jamestown 50 years ago in a then-segregated state.

"Fifty years on, we are now in a position to reflect more candidly on the Jamestown legacy," said the bespectacled queen. "Human progress rarely comes without cost. And those early years in Jamestown, when three great civilizations came together for the first time -Western European, Native American and African - released a train of events which continues to have a profound social impact. ... "

It was a message well received, even in a state where lawmakers have battled over the Confederate flag and whether to apologize for slavery.

"We didn't tell everybody's story, we didn't include everyone, we didn't honor all the accomplishments. We didn't acknowledge that the progress came at a cost and there was huge pain along the way," said Gov. Tim Kaine. "This time, we have a chance to really get it right."

"One of the things we said from the beginning is that we can't just have this [Jamestown anniversary] be a celebration of the Anglophile," said House Speaker William J. Howell, a Republican. "It's an acknowledgement that it's a bigger thing than a bunch of white males coming over to take the land."

The queen also offered condolences to the families of the 32 students and faculty members killed last month in the Virginia Tech shootings. She was to meet privately with some survivors.

Yesterday marked the start of the queen's fourth state visit to the United States. Her first was in 1957 for Jamestown's 350th anniversary.

Turnout yesterday was far lower than the 13,000 that state officials were expecting. Though thousands still came out, the lawn outside the Capitol was less than half full.

Still, busloads of people descended on the Capitol in the morning. There were Girl Scouts clutching bunches of flowers, school bands and football teams. Native Americans came in full regalia, ROTC cadets in uniform and women in elaborate hats and pearls.

Glenn Canaday of the Chickahominy tribe in Charles City County performed a "welcome dance" for the queen to bless the ground. "Finally we're asked to participate in something," said Canaday, wearing his native regalia, which included an eagle head atop his dance staff.

Security was tight. Police checked bags and visitors walked through metal detectors and were scanned with wands.

Thirty police officers could be spotted on the roof of a nearby building and snipers were perched atop the Capitol, one in fatigues perpetually peering into binoculars.

Still, the atmosphere remained festive. Jumbotron screens flashed "Royal Facts." "The queen is 5' 4"," said one.

Bluegrass and gospel musicians played and school groups performed on a stage.

Clad in a red quilt, Scott Fuss, 76, proclaimed himself a "longtime Anglophile." Fuss, who lives in Richmond, traces his ancestors to Scotland.

"This country was founded by essentially the British and I think I feel a connection that way," said Fuss. "And the British have been staunch allies of our country. I appreciate that."

Ursula Ardy, 59, displayed her British roots with a T-shirt, hat and flag. Ardy, unlike some in her native country, said she still supports the monarchy.

"It's gone through a lot of things and it's still there. That's not true of a lot of things."

The royal walkabout was a mere 300-foot ramble from the Governor's Mansion to the South Portico of the Capitol. The governor guided the queen, while first lady Anne Holton led the prince.

The route was lined by hundreds of Virginians hand-picked by the governor and his staff. There were firefighters and teachers, schoolchildren and hospital volunteers.

The queen was given "talking points" on each of the representatives, should she choose to stop and talk to anyone.

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