- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Queen Elizabeth II met with World War II veterans yesterday in her final public appearance during a six-day visit to the United States that included a state dinner at the White House, a stop at the Kentucky Derby and a tour of Jamestown, Va.

Under a cloudless sky and bright sunshine, the queen arrived at the National World War II Memorial on the Mall to salutes from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard.

The 81-year-old queen, clad in a royal blue jacket and matching hat, was accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush.

The group was guided around the memorial before presenting a wreath from Buckingham Palace with a card that read, “In Memory of the Glorious Dead.”

Afterward, a drum roll sounded and a bugler played taps.

The queen then joined Mary Bomar, the British-born director of the National Park Service, for a walk around a fountain at the center of the memorial. They stopped to look at the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument before greeting veterans of World War II, some in wheelchairs.

It was the British monarch’s first visit to the war memorial, which was dedicated in 2004. The queen, a teenage princess during World War II, served her country in the war as a driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Marjorie Gallun, who was sitting in the front row of about 100 veterans and guests, said she was honored to meet the queen.

“I just told her how happy we were to have her here, and she said she was happy to be here,” said Mrs. Gallun, whose late husband also was a veteran of the war. “It’s a special thrill for me because my grandparents came from England.”

The royal couple were scheduled to fly home last night after hosting a dinner for President Bush and first lady Laura Bush at the home of David Manning, British ambassador to the United States.

The events yesterday wrapped up the royal couple’s visit commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown.

The queen, the prince and the first lady earlier yesterday visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and Children’s Hospital in the District, where the queen spoke to sick children making cookies.

At Goddard, about 3,000 onlookers greeted the queen, who was accompanied by NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin. She stopped to ask several people whether they work at Goddard and what they do.

A group of preschool-age children of employees handed her roses and other flowers, which she accepted into her white-gloved hand with a smile.

Inside the center, the queen listened to a conversation among British-born NASA astronaut C. Michael Foale, who stood at her side, and the three astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

She didn’t address the astronauts directly, but smiled when they greeted her from space.

Flight engineer Sunita Williams, an American who is on the space station with two Russians, greeted her from orbit, saying, “Good morning, your majesty. Thanks for joining us today in our home.”

After hearing from the astronauts, the British monarch toured Goddard and helped plant a tree in the garden commemorating her visit. The flight center is home to the largest organization of scientists and engineers in the United States, according to NASA.

Associate NASA Administrator William H. Gerstenmaier compared challenges faced by NASA crews to those faced by early settlers in Jamestown.

“We are but the latest in a long line of explorers pushing forward to new frontiers,” he said. “But just as the Jamestown colonists had to learn how to live and overcome obstacles in a new world, so we are learning to live beyond our world in the hope of establishing a permanent human presence across the solar system.”

At the dinner last night at the British ambassador’s residence, the Bushes and the royal couple shook hands with all 104 guests, who included former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush; former first lady Nancy Reagan; Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower; D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his wife, Michelle; and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The queen elicited laughter when she opened her toast saying, “I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘Mr. President, when I was here in 1776,’ ” in reference to a slip from Mr. Bush a day earlier.

Mr. Bush replied in his toast: “Your majesty, I can’t top that one,” drawing more laughter.

The queen continued: “Over our six days in the United States, we have much enjoyed the chance to dwell on the history of the relationship between our two countries as well as celebrating its present strength and vitality. I would like to thank everyone for the warmth and kindness extended to us.”

The royal couple began their U.S. visit Thursday at the Virginia State Capitol, where the queen addressed the General Assembly. The queen was at Jamestown on Friday, touring the replicas at Jamestown Settlement and original archaeological findings at Historic Jamestowne. In Williamsburg, she was awarded an honorary membership to the College of William & Mary’s Class of 2007.

Jon Ward contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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