A May 4 front-page article about Queen Elizabeth II's visit misspelled the name of Mary Munford Elementary School in Richmond. The article incorrectly attributed the comments of a spectator in Williamsburg. It was Sally Stevens of Williamsburg, not Kathy Graves, who said: "It was wonderful. It was a thrill. She's a lovely lady. And I think Prince Philip is still so handsome. They're so regal. It was the thrill of a lifetime."
Straining for a Glimpse of Royalty
Friday, May 4, 2007
RICHMOND, May 3 -- Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen.
As dozens of well-wishers and a military band waited in the rain for her arrival, Queen Elizabeth II and her royal entourage touched down Thursday at Richmond International Airport, beginning the British monarch's first U.S. visit since 1991 -- a six-day tour eagerly anticipated by her hosts and many of her loyal subjects residing in the former colonies.
Whisked by motorcade to Virginia's newly refurbished State Capitol with her husband, the 81-year-old queen delivered a six-minute speech to a joint session of the General Assembly. Although she traveled here to help commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, England's first permanent colony in the New World, she opened her remarks on a somber note.
"As a state, and as a nation, you are still coming to terms with the dreadful events at Virginia Tech on the 16th of April," she said. Thirty-two people were slain on campus by a gunman who then killed himself. "My heart goes out to the students, families and friends who were killed and many others who have been affected," she said.
"On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deep sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow." She later met privately with some of the students.
As for Jamestown, she told lawmakers that it is appropriate for history to "reassess" English settlers' role in pushing Native Americans from their land and enslaving Africans. But she stopped short of an apology, saying such debate should not overshadow the role the settlers played in establishing the nation's democracy.
In 1619, 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown on a Dutch ship and were traded for goods, marking the start of slavery in what would become the United States, according to the National Park Service.
"Human progress rarely comes without costs," she said. "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 not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom and Europe."
She said, "It is right that we continue to reassess the meaning of historical events in the changing context of the present."
Later, the queen honored the 104 English settlers who landed in Jamestown in 1607, saying they "built a great nation, founded on the eternal values of democracy."
The queen will tour Jamestown on Friday and visit the recently discovered archaeological site where the settlement's original stockade fort was erected. She will have lunch -- rockfish, Virginia ham, salad and a lemon tart -- outdoors in the historic district and then pay a call at the College of William and Mary before leaving for the Kentucky Derby. She'll visit Washington early next week and will be honored with a state dinner at the White House.
As for the greeting she and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, received when they arrived outside the Capitol about 3:30 p.m. -- well, based on the size of the crowd, perhaps the queen is old hat.