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Queen Elizabeth Tours Colonial Settlement of Jamestown, Virginia


Britain's Queen Elizabeth visited the historic Jamestown Settlement Friday, in the U.S. state of Virginia. Jamestown was the first permanent English colony in what would become the United States. The Queen's visit is part of commemorations of the Virginia settlement's 400th anniversary. From Washington, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more on the royal visit.

The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, accompanied by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne, arrived at the historic settlement Friday morning.

In May 1607, 104 English settlers landed at the site on the James River. The dangerous Atlantic crossing took five difficult months, and nearly half the original group died within months of their arrival. But despite great difficulty, what began as a commercial venture and a search for a new water route to the Pacific, became the foundation of a new nation.

Vice President Cheney said the settlers' arrival changed the world.

"Inside a little three-sided fort in this corner of Virginia large events were set in motion and great and noble traditions were introduced to America," he said. "So we pay homage to the first English settlement on the North American shore and we mark the 14th of May 1607 as a providential moment in the life of this nation."

This is the 81-year-old monarch's fourth State visit to the United States. Her first was 50 years ago, just after she had become queen, and it was also to Jamestown for the 350th anniversary celebrations.

The queen, wearing a teal coat and matching hat, did not address the crowd. Later she toured the fort with the vice president. Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, a former officer in the Royal Navy, accompanied Mrs. Cheney aboard a replica of the Susan Constant, the largest of the three ships that brought the Jamestown settlers to North America.

After Jamestown, the royal couple visited the nearby College of William & Mary. Founded by a royal charter in 1693, it is the second oldest college in the United States. At a luncheon at the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg in her honor, the Queen, now in a raspberry-colored ensemble, spoke about the symbolism of the Jamestown landing.

"[It is] A symbol of the convergence of civilizations, of the spread of the rule of law, of the growth of representative democracy, and also the symbol of friendship, the deep and enduring friendship between the United States and the United Kingdom," she said.

Saturday, the horse-loving monarch will travel to the state of Kentucky to attend the famous Kentucky Derby horse race. Monday night, the Bushes will entertain the royals at a White House State Dinner.

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