A Royal Welcome

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email
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May 3, 2007

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip arrived in the Commonwealth Thursday afternoon. They are in Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of the first permanent British colony in the U.S.

Thursday marked day one of the royal couple's six-day visit to the states. Just after 3 p.m. her plane touched down in Richmond. By 3:30, she was at the State House. There, she got a royal welcome.

In her remarks before the Virginia Assembly, Queen Elizabeth II said her heart goes out to those affected by the tragedy at the Virginia Tech last month.

"On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathy at this time of such grief and sorrow," she said.

The queen is in Virginia, in part, for a very special celebration in Jamestown.

"I visit the United States this week to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of a small group of British citizens on a tiny island in what is now called James River here in Virginia," she remarked.

The visit is a repeat performance of sorts. Fifty years ago, in her first trip to America as the British Monarch, she celebrated the 350th anniversary of Jamestown's founding. At that time, because of segregation laws, it was an all white event, something the queen touched on in her remarks.

"Over the course of my reign, and certainly since I first visited Jamestown in 1957, my country has become a more diverse society, just as the Commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America have also undergone major social change."

Thursday evening, the queen headed to Williamsburg, where she spent the night. Friday, she'll be touring Jamestown for the 400th anniversary celebration.

On Saturday, Queen Elizabeth is expected at the Kentucky Derby. Her majesty is an avid horse racing fan and will fulfill what she calls a lifelong dream by attending the Kentucky Derby.

Early next week, she is also to meet with President Bush before returning to the U.K.

This is the queen's first visit to the U.S. in 16 years.

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