Queen Elizabeth fêted by White House

To cap off a heartfelt tour of Jamestown, the first English Colony in America, Virginia Tech, and the festive American version of Ascot – the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, have arrived in Washington DC today, and pomp and circumstance, American-style, is honoring the loved Queen of all England. 

President Bush, who seems more comfortable sitting astride a horse on his ranch, may have his love of the horses to share as dinner conversation with Queen Elizabeth II, but the Monarch of Britain today is being shown the respect of a full white glove reception by the White House with an uncharacteristic yet welcome display of pomp.

“We did sort of have to convince him a little bit” to opt for the white-tie dinner, first Lady Laura Bush said Monday to the AP of her and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s efforts to talk Bush into hosting the most formal dinner the White House can offer.

The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are being honored with a 21-gun salute and a parade by the U.S. Army’s Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps attended by 7,000 guests on the White House’s South Lawn, and it is now carried live on CNN.

An exclusive guest list will attend the white tie and tails for the state dinner among 13 damask-clothed tables set with gold-trimmed ivory china and gilded silver candelabras, according to the White House press secretary.

“We’re very excited to host Her Majesty,” Mrs. Bush said Monday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“We had the opportunity to be here the last time she was here for a state dinner (hosted by the first President Bush in 1991) … and we’re so thrilled to have the chance to host her and to show her the strong affection the American people have for the British,” she said.

It will be the first white tie event for the Bush presidency.

Despite the abysmal ratings Bush has with Americans, there is no doubt that many here do not want the Queen to leave, and feel a connection to her that transcends country and culture, Americans do love the British royals with a passion, and respect the time honored traditions of the United Kingdom.  There is so much shared blood and bonds between the mother country and its largest and most successful colony that broke away.

“The stories of our two countries have been inextricably woven together” said the Queen.

She also cited the shared principles of democracy and rule of law as further bonds between the US and UK.

The White House said the president was happy to return hospitality to the queen, who hosted the Bushes at a white-tie state banquet in November 2003 during an official visit to Britain.

The visit to Washington comes at the tail end of a six-day trip, the Queen’s fifth to the United States in 50 years but her first since 1991. The royal couple arrived Sunday night at Andrews Air Force Base before spending the night at Blair House, the president’s guest house.

The Queen thanked President Bush for letting her visit the country, and expressed it was “a pleasure” to be in Washington.

On Tuesday, the queen will join Laura Bush in a tour of Children’s National Medical Center. She also plans to plant a tree at the British ambassador’s residence and visit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the National World War II Memorial.

Tuesday night she’s scheduled to have dinner with the Bushes at the British embassy before returning to London.


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