Virginia wine was flowing at the British ambassador’s residence Tuesday night as actual royalty (that would be Britain’s Prince Edward) mingled with the commonwealth’s political A-listers for a reception gearing up for next year’s 400th anniversary of representative democracy in the United States. (Who knew that centuries after those 22 colonists gathered in a little church in Jamestown, Va., for the first General Assembly, we would still be squabbling along?)
Among the crowd were Gov. Ralph Northam and Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, along with former governor George Allen, former senator John Warner (in a welcoming speech, Mark Warner referred to the spry and snowy-haired 91-year-old Warner as “Virginia royalty”), and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), whom Mark Warner called an “honorary Virginian” for the evening, noting that his state’s borders had once encompassed what is now Missouri. (The two Warners are not related.)
Prince Edward thanked British Ambassador Kim Darroch for hosting and jokingly congratulated the relatively youthful United States for reaching a milestone. “It’s just great hearing you celebrating something that is 400 years old, when most of you seem to complain about the fact that most things in this country are only 200 years old,” he said.
But he struck a more serious note: “The world is becoming ever more complex and our societies and communities are ever more diverse, so being able to actually celebrate something that does bind people together . . . is becoming ever more important,” he said.
The royal, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, is on a 12-day, nine city visit to the other half of his country’s “special relationship.” And on Tuesday, Prince Edward told us that he’s combining diplomacy and pleasure while touring America — one of his goals is to play a handful of “court tennis” clubs on this side of the pond. (Yes, we had to look this up: “Court” or “real” tennis is the precursor to modern tennis, played indoors and with a complex set of rules.)