Queen Elizabeth Tours Virginia

In her first visit to the U.S. in more than a decade, England's Queen Elizabeth II is expected to tour Jamestown and Williamsburg, Va., Friday. She last visited America in 1991.

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne in London.


I'm Steve Inskeep in Washington. And Renee, as soon as you get to London, the queen has to get out of town.

MONTAGNE: I don't know why that is, Steve.

INSKEEP: I can't imagine, I can't imagine. But in any case, Queen Elizabeth is in the United States visiting Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia, today. Yesterday, thousands of Virginians saw the queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, on their first U.S. appearance since 1991. And we have a report this morning from NPR's Adam Hochberg in Williamsburg.

ADAM HOCHBERG: This week's visit marks the third time Queen Elizabeth has been to Virginia during her 53-year reign. That's more than she's visited any other state, perhaps suggesting something of a fascination with this former colony that played such a pivotal role both in the expansion of the British Empire and in the Americans' eventual rebellion against it. But even in this state that was home to revolutionary leaders like Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, Virginians proved yesterday they're still infatuated with royalty.

Mr. GERRY WHITE(ph): Here she comes.

Ms. SUSAN WHITE(ph): Okay. Okay. Oh, good. She's on our side. Phillip's on the other side.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WHITE: Yay.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

HOCHBERG: Virginians Susan and Gerry White joined thousands of people who lined a Williamsburg street as the queen and Prince Phillip rode past in a horse-drawn carriage.

The royal ride lasted less than 10 minutes, but Yvonne Havis(ph), who came from Tampa to see it, says she'll always remember her brief glimpse of the queen.

Ms. YVONNE HAVIS: It's a chance in a lifetime, and we (unintelligible) see the queen of England come down the street, and it was just such a wonderful opportunity.

HOCHBERG: The royal visit to Virginia is timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. In a speech yesterday to the state legislature, the queen praised what she called the ingenuity and idealism that led to the settlement's founding in 1607 under the reign of King James I, Elizabeth's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

Queen ELIZABETH (Great Britain): We can see in that event the origins of a singular endeavor: the building of a great nation founded on the eternal values of democracy and equality, based on the rule of law and the promotion of freedom.

HOCHBERG: The queen also made note of a recent event in Virginia - last month's shooting at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead. Yesterday, Elizabeth met privately with a group of Tech students, and during her public remarks she expressed condolences to the victims' families and friends.

Queen ELIZABETH: On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow.

HOCHBERG: Today, the queen is scheduled to take a whirlwind history tour of Jamestown and Williamsburg, similar to one she took during a visit here 50 years ago. But yesterday she recalled that that 1957 trip celebrated the accomplishments only of the European settlers. She praised recent efforts to include the contributions of Africans and Native Americans in what she called a more candid reflection of the Jamestown legacy.

Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Williamsburg, Virginia.

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