Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Queen's American Visit

Today the Queen and Prince Philip touch down in Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement.

The Jamestown what?

My knowledge of American history is minimal. In highschool we studied the American political and legal systems but little of its history. Our young and impressionable minds were also a captive audience for the teacher's sectarian views. I'll admit that I don't really pay that much attention to why the Queen visits, as much as just enjoying the fact that she does. This visit will mark the fourth time she's made a State Visit to the United States. The previous trips were in October 1957, July 1976 for the US Bicentennial, and in 1991 to visit President Bush. In 1983 the Queen and Prince Philip also made an official visit to the West Coast of America. She has also made some private visits to Kentucky for horse breeding.

In Canada we see far more of the Queen. Not including her tour when she was Princess Elizabeth, she has come to Canada 29 times in the course of her reign. Is it because she likes us better? We like to think so but being the Queen of Canada certainly helps. I have seen the Queen in person once, and that was from a distance when I attended the 1997 running of the Queen's Plate at Woodbine Race Track in Ontario. The Queen and Prince Philip rode by in their carriage, waving and smiling, and then they disappeared to the place where all good VIP's go after they've made their obligatory appearances.

This visit to the United States is more than just a polite call in. She is coming to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement - the first permament English settlement in North America, established in 1607 (thanks Wikipedia!). While no doubt an important event in American history, it's unlikely that it would get the same amount of global news coverage were it not for the Queen's visit. I'm glad to say that because of it I've learned something new.

One British newspaper noted that with her advancing age, this visit to the US will probably be her last. Let's hope that isn't true. She's the most traveled monarch in British history, so she's earned the right to put her feet up. If after this visit she does, then this visit marks a historic event in more ways than one.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

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