The Queen and Prince Philip Arriving in Richmond, Virginia
The Queen Addressing the Virginia General Assembly: Virginia State Capitol Building
Queen Elizabeth Reviews Virginia Tech Honor Guards During Virginia Visit
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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Williamsburg, Virginia
The Queen and Prince Philip Visiting Jamestown, Virginia, in 1957
Queen Elizabeth II and her royal entourage touched down at Richmond International Airport on Thursday, beginning the Queen’s six-day visit to the United States. The 81-year-old Queen then went by motorcade to the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, where she delivered a speech to a joint session of the General Assembly.
The Virginia Tech honor cadet force braved the rains to form a guard of honor outside of the Virginia Capitol. While there should have been 12, one space was left empty in memory of Matthew La Porte, a member of the university’s cadet force who died in the shootings.
Although one of the main purposes of her visit to America is to help commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, she began her remarks in Richmond on a more somber note. “As a state, and as a nation, you are still coming to terms with the dreadful events at Virginia Tech on the 16th of April,” she said. Thirty-two people were slain in the mass shooting on campus by a gunman who then killed himself. “My heart goes out to the students, families and friends who were killed and many others who have been affected, some of whom I shall be meeting shortly,” the Queen said.
After speaking to the Virginia General Assembly, Queen Elizabeth walked with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) to a room off of the House chamber to meet with a group of Virginia Tech students and staff members. When she entered, the students erupted into applause. The queen stayed with the group for several minutes. One student, who had been shot in the hand, presented the queen with a bracelet imbedded with 32 polished stones, one for each person slain, minus the shooter, in the school’s colors, maroon and orange. Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger was also present for the meeting.
After appearing at the State Capitol, the Queen and Prince Philip traveled to Jamestown in order to participate in the commemorative ceremonies there. Later, they traveled to Williamsburg, where they rode in an ornate, open-topped horse-drawn carriage through excited, admiring crowds on a four-block trip to the nearby Williamsburg Inn, where they spent the night. Also along for the ride was Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, honorary chairperson of the Jamestown 2007 celebration.
Queen Elizabeth at The College of William and Mary
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On Friday, the Queen made an appearance at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. At 2:45 in the afternoon, the Queen came out onto the portico of the college’s historic Wren building and was greeted with thunderous applause from thousands of students. William and Mary’s President Gene R. Nichol welcomed her, noting the college’s historic ties with England. Set on a lush campus in Williamsburg, the college was born in 1693 when King William III and Queen Mary II granted it a royal charter. “We are ancient by the standards on this side of the water, if not your own,” Nichol told the Queen.
Senior Class President Jessica A. Vance then rose and announced that the queen would receive an honorary degree from William and Mary. “I ask you to join us in becoming an honorary member of the Class of 2007,” Vance said. “For now, ma’am, will you please stand and join us in the singing of our — and now your — alma mater.” And with that, several thousand students, faculty and guests filling the long grass courtyard stood and sang the alma mater.
At its conclusion, the queen clapped her white gloved hands politely. Then, fulfilling a William and Mary tradition, the honorary graduate was offered the chance afforded all seniors on their last day of classes — to ring the Wren bell. “I asked her if she wanted to do it,” 22-year-old Vance, who accompanied the queen to the bell, said later. She said, no, I could do it.”
So Vance rang the bell, and the queen emerged on a second-floor balcony. Leaning into a microphone overlooking the courtyard, Vance announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest member of the Class of 2007, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.”
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