Queen Confirms State Visit in May
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Running of the Roses, a fancy dinner at the White House and a nod to Virginia as the home of the first permanent English colony in the New World are all on the ticket for Queen Elizabeth II's first state visit to the United States in 16 years, Buckingham Palace said yesterday.
But her royal highness will not be sticking around for the grand, three-day party that Virginia is throwing in May to mark the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding.
In its long-awaited announcement, the palace said yesterday that the queen and her husband -- Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh -- will visit Virginia May 3-4 and make a trip to Churchill Downs to see the 133rd Kentucky Derby on May 5. Then the royal couple will head back to the nation's capital on May 6-8 for a visit and state dinner hosted by President Bush and the first lady.
Government officials in both countries were keeping further details about the monarch's visit under wraps, citing security precautions.
Virginians, from the governor on down, were not even saying whether they were a little disappointed that she will miss the anniversary party marking the date that settlers landed on the shore of the James River in 1607.
Several said that, if anything, the queen's visit will help whip up excitement for "America's Anniversary Weekend" in Jamestown May 11-13.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine called the monarch's planned howdy-do "extraordinary."
"This Royal visit speaks to the importance of Jamestown to both of our countries, reaffirms the strong, historic ties between our nations and demonstrates a mutual commitment to reinforce these connections as we go forward together," Kaine said in a statement. He promised her majesty a helping of "true southern hospitality" and said the visit will shower the state with international attention.
The queen had announced the trip in a speech to Parliament in November, saying only that she would visit in May, and rumors had been flying for weeks that she would not time her visit for the three-day festival.
"What I think it will do is expand the anniversary weekend," said Sandy Rives, Virginia director of the National Park Service and Jamestown 400 project director. "I'm certainly not disappointed."
Elizabeth S. Kostelny, executive director of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, which manages Historic Jamestowne, the actual site where colonists settled, noted that the queen's last visit to Jamestown, during the 350th anniversary, occurred in October 1957.
"I think it's very exciting," she said. "From the point of view of Historic Jamestowne, this is all great."