August 21st, 2009
Queen Elizabeth sets date for Va. visit – Yahoo! News
NORFOLK, Va. – Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip will visit Virginia May 3-4 to help commemorate the founding of Jamestown 400 years ago, but they’ll be here a week before the official anniversary events for America’s first permanent English settlement.
The monarch and her husband will visit the United States from May 3-8, Buckingham Palace announced Wednesday. “America’s Anniversary Weekend” is May 11-13.
The first two days of the trip they will be in Virginia for the Jamestown commemoration. They also will attend the Kentucky Derby on May 5, then spend time in Washington May 6-8 for a visit hosted by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, according to the palace, which earlier had announced that the queen would visit Virginia sometime in May.
The royal couple will be welcomed with “true southern hospitality,” Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said in a statement Wednesday.
“This royal visit speaks to the importance of Jamestown to both of our countries, reaffirms the strong, historic ties between our nations, and demonstrates a mutual commitment to reinforce these connections as we go forward together,” Kaine said.
English settlers founded Jamestown on a swampy island on the James River as a business venture in 1607.
Even though the queen won’t be attending the anniversary weekend, organizers said her early visit to Virginia will help promote the activities at Historic Jamestowne, the site of the settlers’ fort, the Jamestown Settlement living history museum and Anniversary Park.
“It means that twice during this May, the world’s attention is going to be focused on Jamestown and the role it played in America’s development,” said Kevin Crossett, spokesman for Jamestown 2007.
While Jamestown’s quadricentennial and its English origins are at the heart of the queen’s U.S. visit, she also is expected to visit Virginia’s current Capitol, in Richmond.
As two years and $99 million in renovations to the state’s seat of government Thomas Jefferson designed 200 years ago near completion, a new urgency has taken hold amid whisperings of a major state visit.
Officials in Kaine’s administration and the British Embassy in Washington declined to discuss the queen’s itinerary or which Virginia localities she will visit. Those details remain in the planning stage and will be made public in late April.
The trip will be the queen’s fourth state visit to the U.S. During her first visit, she went to Jamestown in October of 1957, the year of Jamestown’s 350th anniversary. Organizers are looking forward to showing the queen the many changes that have taken place since then, Crossett said.
For example, the site of the settlers’ original fort long thought to have eroded into the James River was discovered in the mid-1990s and archaeologists since have unearthed more than a million artifacts.
“She’s going to be introduced to a new Jamestown story, one that wasn’t even available 50 years ago during her first official state visit,” Crossett said of the queen.
President Bush also has been invited to attend the anniversary weekend, but Crossett said the White House has not confirmed whether he will accept.
Associated Press Writer Bob Lewis contributed to this report from Richmond.
On the Net:
Jamestown 2007: http://www.Americas400thAnniversary.com
Virginia governor: http://www.governor.virginia.gov