Posted: Sat May 05, 2007 12:28 am Post subject: Queen's Jamestown tour evokes history, memories
Queen's Jamestown tour evokes history, memories
Sat May 5, 2007 12:34AM EDT
By Caren Bohan
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (Reuters) - Greeted by hundreds of admirers and bouquets of flowers, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II strolled past thatched-roof houses in historic Jamestown on Friday in a visit that evoked both the U.S. colonial past and the early years of her own reign.
The British monarch's visit marked the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown by English settlers who sailed for five months across the Atlantic in search of gold and silver.
Despite travails including a scarcity of food and clean water, the colonists established the first permanent British settlement in North America and named it after King James I.
The queen, wearing a teal coat and matching hat, was joined by Vice President Dick Cheney as she toured houses and a church created as replicas of buildings from 1607 settlement. The queen also viewed rusted armor and other original items at an archeological site.
For some Virginians old enough to have been in the area in 1957, the excitement around the visit brought a sense of deja vu. Queen Elizabeth, then a young mother who had assumed the throne just five years earlier, came to Jamestown for its 350th anniversary as well.
"Everyone thought she was so beautiful and charming," said Sarah Watkins Williams, who was 12 at the time. But she added, "I think it's even more exciting to see her this time."
Williams, 62, and Hugh DeSemper, 80, watched on Thursday evening as a horse-drawn carriage took the queen through the historic area of Williamsburg, Virginia. Both saw her go by in a similar procession when the queen was just 31.
But one difference they noticed was the much higher level of security.
While many of the events 50 years ago were open to the public, the queen's audiences this time have been much more restricted -- a limitation that annoyed some tourists who hoped to see Queen Elizabeth in person.
NATIVE AMERICANS AND SLAVES
Organizers also tried this time to put much more emphasis on the contributions -- and suffering -- of Native Americans and black people brought to Virginia as slaves to work in what later became a thriving tobacco industry for the state.
In a speech to the Virginia General Assembly, the queen acknowledged this change, paying tribute to the "melting pot" she said is one of America's strengths.
Bob Buettner, 55, and his wife and daughter did not get to see the carriage ride despite waiting for two hours.
"We kept asking people when she was going to arrive but no one would give us a straight answer. I think because of security they were so secretive about it," said Buettner.
In addition to Cheney and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Jamestown visit included volunteers for the settlement's historic society and several reporters.
Virginia held a lottery to pick members of the public who could join the queen on her walk around the state capitol building in Richmond on Thursday, although people were allowed to sit on the lawn on blankets and watch from afar.
Many were not deterred by the tight security and long waits, including 11-year-old Tristan Terrell, who was visiting Williamsburg on a tour organized by her school in Alabama.
"She's got a million outfits," Terrell said, adding it was "really cool" that Queen Elizabeth had traveled so far.
The school group was on its way to try to see the queen at the Williamsburg Governor's Palace, a reconstruction of a colonial-era building where Thomas Jefferson once lived.
The queen said later said she was moved by the Jamestown archeological site that allowed her to imagine "something of the experience of those early settlers when they first made landfall on the James River."
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