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Queen Elizabeth Visits US for 400th Anniversary of Colonial Settlement

Thousands of people turned out in Richmond, the capital of the U.S. State of Virginia Thursday, to welcome Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip. The royal couple's visit is part of celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, the first permanent English colony in the United States. From Washington, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The 81-year old monarch looked elegant in a lilac coat with pink trim and diamond brooch with a complementary pink hat with lilac feathers as she arrived at the Virginia Governor's mansion in the city of Richmond.

At a brief private reception, Governor Timothy Kaine presented the Queen with a rare edition of "Notes from Virginia" by former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.

Afterwards, the governor and his wife escorted the royal couple on a short walk from the mansion to the State Capitol. The queen was in good spirits, smiling at the large crowd and accepting bouquets of flowers from many of the children and other well-wishers.

On the steps of the state capitol, members of Virginia's Native American Indian tribes danced in the Queen's honor wearing traditional garb and feather headdresses.

The royal visitors then entered the Capitol building, which just underwent a 105-million dollar, two-year renovation.

Inside, the Queen addressed the Virginia Assembly, the first time a British monarch has addressed the body. She said the 400th anniversary of the settling of Jamestown by a small group of British citizens marks a moment to recognize the deep friendship that has existed between the two countries.

"It is one of the most durable international collaborations anywhere in the world at anytime in history. A friendship for which I certainly, in my lifetime, have had good cause to be thankful. That is a lasting legacy of Jamestown that is something worth commemorating and that is why I am pleased to be here today," she said.

Later Thursday the Queen planned to meet privately with survivors of last month's shooting rampage at Virginia Tech (university) and meet the families of some of the 32 people who were killed. "My heart goes out to the students, friends and families of all those killed and to the many others who have been affected, some of whom I shall be meeting shortly. On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow," she said.

This is the Queen and Prince Philip's fourth State visit to the United States since she became Queen in 1952.

The royal couple will spend two days in Virginia, during which they will tour historic Jamestown and visit Colonial Williamsburg.

An enthusiastic equestrian and horse breeder, the Queen will travel to Kentucky on Saturday to attend the famous Kentucky derby horse race. On Monday, the royal couple will be the guests of President and Mrs. Bush at a State dinner at the White House before returning home on Tuesday.