- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will visit Virginia in May to mark the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in America, the queen announced yesterday.

The trip to the site of the Jamestown Settlement will be the fourth state visit to the United States for the queen and her husband.

The queen briefly announced the planned visit during her annual speech to Parliament, when she was outlining the government’s legislative program for the coming session.

Officials at Buckingham Palace confirmed that the royal couple would travel to Jamestown for celebration events but said schedule details had not been confirmed.

“It is unlikely any further details will be known until next year,” said a Buckingham Palace spokesman on the customary condition of anonymity, in line with policy.

President Bush, in Moscow yesterday, said he hoped the visit would celebrate strong relations between the U.S. and Britain.

“The United States and the United Kingdom enjoy an extraordinary friendship that is sustained by deep historical and cultural ties and a commitment to defend freedom around the world,” Mr. Bush said. “We look forward to her majesty’s state visit as an occasion to celebrate these enduring bonds.”

In Virginia, Jamestown celebration organizers said they were pleased by the queen’s announcement.

“Her visit escalates the commemoration to the international level,” Jamestown 2007 spokesman Kevin Crossett said. “We’ve been hopeful for the past decade that the queen would be able to visit.”

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine welcomed the news from London, where he is in the midst of a four-nation trade and tourism mission.

“I am proud that the commonwealth will once again have the high honor and privilege of hosting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to commemorate the 400th anniversary of this pivotal moment in our history,” Mr. Kaine said.

“Our Jamestown 2007 events will be elevated by the prominence of her majesty, and we look forward to celebrating the deep historical and cultural connections between Virginia and the United Kingdom.”

The Jamestown Settlement began as a business venture by a group of merchants operating under a charter granted by King James I in 1606.

In the early years, the settlers were nearly wiped out by hunger and disease.

Later, tobacco exports helped the colony survive financially, and Jamestown was the capital of the Virginia Colony until the capital was moved to nearby Williamsburg in 1699.

The queen’s last visit to the United States was in May 1991 to meet with the first President Bush. The earlier state visits were in 1957 and 1976.

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