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Regional & National

Virginia loves the queen

May 5th, 2007 1:36 am by SONJA BARISIC

JAMESTOWN - In her own country, Queen Elizabeth II may be a bit old hat.

Her events are completely routine - flower shows, the races and her two birthday celebrations, in April and June. And the crowds who make it a point to see the queen there either adore her, look at her as an icon of British traditionalism or are foreigners eager to snap a few token pictures.

But on her current trip to the United States, the British monarch has been met with receptions worthy of, well, royalty, as she's returned to some places she last visited in 1957.

"My visits to Jamestown and Williamsburg, separated by 50 years, symbolize for me the warmth and welcome Prince Philip and I have always received during our many visits to the United States over the years," the queen said during a private luncheon Friday in Colonial Williamsburg, the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia.

Hours before the queen arrived for the lunch in a tent outside the reconstructed colonial Governor's Palace, people already had begun gathering on the lawn. They sat in folding chairs, sprawled on blankets or simply stood, hoping to catch a glimpse of the queen from behind barricades 50 yards away.

Just before 1 p.m., a black limousine arrived. The crowd cheered as a tiny figure in a turquoise hat emerged and disappeared into the palace.

"It's magical, the royalty," said Michelle Yorgey of Salisbury, Md., who said she would come to see a figure like Prime Minister Tony Blair - but wouldn't consider it quite as special as seeing royalty.

Andrew Lannerd flew in from Indianapolis to see the queen.

The queen is "someone that you can respect no matter what you believe," said Lannerd, who also travels to England to see the queen twice a year.

In Britain, many have grown disenchanted with royalty and a fair number of anti-royalists often show up and protest at events. But the queen, heading a family of often outspoken members, has managed to remain above the fray.

In the United States, the recent movie "The Queen," about the monarch, has spurred a lot of interest in the real queen, Lannerd said. He's seen the movie eight times, all in the theater.

"Americans love the movies and they also love the British monarchy, so bringing the two together in such a wonderful way was really popular," he said.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, were in Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary this month of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.

Their first stop Friday was the Jamestown Settlement living history museum, where an estimated 1,200 people watched their arrival.

Queen Elizabeth II strolled through a replica of the settlers' triangular fort. Flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the monarch walked through a tourist village of recreated thatch-roofed buildings.

Cheney noted the queen's last visit to Jamestown, 50 years ago for the 350th anniversary commemoration of its founding.

"Half a century has done nothing to diminish the respect and affection this country holds for you. We receive you again today in that same spirit," Cheney told the queen in a welcoming speech.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor also greeted the queen, commenting on the historical ties between the two countries long after America fought to win independence.

The queen toured three buildings in the fort, including a facsimile of the guardhouse believed to have been in the original settlement.

Fred Scholpp, a costumed interpreter dressed as a soldier, showed the queen the sort of weapons the guardhouse may have contained, including a 17th-century-style breastplate. She touched it with a gloved hand, smiled and nodded slightly.

The queen also walked to docks on the James River to replicas of the three ships on which the settlers arrived in 1607. A cannon was fired from one in tribute to her.

Later, the queen and Cheney went to Historic Jamestowne, the site where archaeologists have found remains of the original fort. She was shown excavation trays containing chess pieces, iron knives, copper baubles and the discarded claws of crabs that had been a meal for the settlers centuries ago.

During her 1957 visit to the same grounds, the queen was told that the site had been consumed by the James River. Excavation of the site began in 1994, and the fort was discovered in 1996. The queen also toured the museum at Historic Jamestowne, moving leisurely through the exhibits as she examined jewelry, shards of pottery and other objects excavated from the site.

She stopped at a display of medical instruments, including a spatula for treatment of constipation. "David!" she called to Cmdr. David Swain, a royal navy doctor who travels with her. "You ought to have some things like that."

Later, at a ceremony in the brick church at Jamestown, built in 1907 near the original church frame dating to 1617, the queen announced that a handmade, elaborately carved Windsor chair would be presented as a gift to the people of Virginia.

"Would you like to try it out?" the queen asked Kaine. He did, to much laughter and applause.

After lunch, at the College of William and Mary, the queen was welcomed at a gathering in the courtyard of the Sir Christopher Wren Building. Built between 1695 and 1699, it is the oldest college building in the United States, school officials said. While the queen ate in Williamsburg, her husband was in Norfolk, where he met with the families of 14 service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He asked each of them how their loved ones were doing and when they would be coming home. The royal couple was to depart later Friday for Louisville, Ky., where the queen will attend Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Next week she visits President Bush in Washington.

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