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Queen Elizabeth reflects on ‘Jamestown legacy’

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of America's first English settlement, Queen Elizabeth II on Friday walked through a replica village as crowds lined her path to catch a glimpse of royalty.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and U.S.Vice President Cheney watch actors take part in a ceremony at the fort at Jamestown Settlement museum in Williamsburg, Virginia
Queen Elizabeth II and Vice President Dick Cheney watch actors take part in a ceremony at the fort at the Jamestown Settlement museum in Williamsburg, Va., on Friday. Jim Young / Reuters
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of America's first English settlement, Queen Elizabeth II on Friday walked through a replica village as crowds lined her path to catch a glimpse of royalty.

The queen, flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney and Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine, strolled through tourist village of Jamestown, with its thatch-roofed buildings and sailing ships, a day after reflecting on the "Jamestown legacy" as one that included costs to Africans and Native Americans.

In his welcoming remarks Friday, Cheney noted the queen’s last visit to Jamestown 50 years ago.

“Half a century has done nothing to diminish the respect and affection this country holds for you. We receive you again today in that same spirit,” Cheney told the queen in a welcoming speech.

The queen was also greeted by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who said American law derived from Great Britain “is the great and lasting achievement we celebrate today.”

Cultural changes cited
The queen did not speak at the event. But on Thursday she addressed the Virginia General Assembly, where she praised the cultural changes that have occurred since her last visit. Then, the 350th anniversary was an all-white affair in a state with a government in open defiance of a 1954 Supreme Court order to desegregate public schools.

"We are now in a position to reflect more candidly on the Jamestown legacy," she said of the 50 years since her last visit. "Human progress rarely comes without cost. And those early years in Jamestown, when three great civilizations came together for the first time, Western European, Native American and African, released a train of events which continues to have a profound social impact, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom and Europe.

"Over the course of my reign, and certainly since I first visited Jamestown in 1957, my country has become a much more diverse society, just as the Commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America have also undergone major social change," she added. "The 'melting pot' metaphor captures one of the great strengths of your country, and is an inspiration to others around the world, as we face the continuing social challenges ahead."

"It is right that we continue to reassess the meaning of historical events in the changing context of the present, not least in this, the 200th anniversary, in the United Kingdom, of the act of parliament to abolish the Trans-Atlantic slave trade."

Lighter side on tour
At Jamestown, the queen walked to the James River, where replicas of the three ships the settlers arrived in were docked. A cannon was fired from one of the ships in tribute to her.

Later, the queen and Cheney went to nearby Historic Jamestowne, where archaeologists have found remains of the original fort. She was shown excavation trays containing chess pieces, iron knives, copper baubles and the discarded claws of crabs that had been a meal for the settlers centuries ago.

At a museum of objects excavated from the site, she stopped at a display of medical instruments, including a spatula for treatment of constipation.

“David!” she called to Cmdr. David Swain, a Royal Navy doctor who travels with her. “You ought to have some things like that.”

At a ceremony in the brick church at Jamestown, built in 1907 near the original church frame dating to 1617, the queen presented a handmade, elaborately carved Windsor chair as a gift to the people of Virginia.

“Would you like to try it out?” the queen asked Gov. Kaine. He did, to laughter and applause.

Later, at a private luncheon in Colonial Williamsburg, the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia, the queen returned to her more staid persona.

“My visits to Jamestown and Williamsburg, separated by 50 years, symbolize for me the warmth and welcome Prince Philip and I have always received during our many visits to the United States over the years,” she said.

While the queen ate in Williamsburg, her husband was in Norfolk, where he met with the families of 14 service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He asked each of them how their loved ones were doing and when they would be coming home.

After lunch, at the College of William and Mary, the queen was welcomed at a gathering in the courtyard of the Sir Christopher Wren Building. Built between 1695 and 1699, it is the oldest college building in the United States, school officials said.

The royal couple then left for Louisville, Ky., where the queen will attend Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Her plane landed shortly before 6 p.m. Next week she visits President Bush in Washington.

Virginia Tech shootings
In her speech Thursday, the queen also mentioned the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 people and then himself.

Afterward, she met briefly with students and faculty from Virginia Tech, including three who were wounded. Among them was Kathleen Carney, who was shot in the hand during the massacre and presented the queen with a bracelet with 32 jewels — one for each person slain — in the school’s colors, maroon and orange.

“My heart goes out to the students, friends and families of those killed and to the many others who have been affected, some of whom I shall be meeting shortly,” the queen said during the speech. “On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow.”

Elizabeth also met with 100-year-old Oliver W. Hill, a civil rights attorney whose litigation helped bring about that 1954 desegregation decision.