Bush Welcomes Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to White House

By Lauren Monsen
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington – “Our two nations hold fundamental values in common. We honor our traditions and our shared history. … And we have built our special relationship on the surest foundations - our deep and abiding love of liberty,” President Bush said as he formally welcomed Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to the White House May 7.

The ceremony marking the arrival of the royal couple in Washington featured a performance by the U.S. Air Force Band and a parade by the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, whose members were dressed in black tricorn hats, white wigs, waistcoats, Colonial coveralls, and red regimental coats. The Colonial-style uniforms paid tribute to the United States’ historic ties with Great Britain, forged in 1607 when English colonists first established the settlement of Jamestown in Virginia. (See related article.)

“Today our two nations are defending liberty against tyranny and terror,” the president said, citing the importance of the British-U.S. partnership against terrorism and religious extremism.  “We’re resisting those who murder the innocent to advance a hateful ideology, whether they kill in New York or London, or Kabul or Baghdad.”

Bush cited the efforts of British and American soldiers serving in the Middle East and elsewhere, and acknowledged their sacrifices.  “Our work has been hard,” he said.  “The fruits of our work have been difficult for many to see.  Yet our work remains the surest path to peace, and it reflects the values cherished by Americans and by Britons, and by the vast majority of people across the broader Middle East.”

He praised the queen for her own efforts in defense of those values.  “Your Majesty, I appreciate your leadership during these times of danger and decision,” he said.  “You’ve spoken out against extremism and terror.  You’ve encouraged religious tolerance and reconciliation.  You’ve honored those returning from battle, and comforted the families of the fallen.”

For her part, the queen hailed an Anglo-American friendship that has helped to shape world events over the course of two world wars and beyond.  “A state visit provides us with a brief opportunity to step back from our current preoccupations to reflect on the very essence of our relationship,” she said.  “It is the moment to take stock of our present friendship, rightly taking pleasure from its strengths, while never taking these for granted.  And it is time to look forward, jointly renewing our commitment to a more prosperous, safer and freer world.”

In Washington, “I shall enjoy not only renewing old acquaintances and making new ones, but also recognizing the breadth and depth of the friendship we have shared for so long,” she told Bush.  “We can celebrate the close and enduring associations which thrive between the United States and the United Kingdom at every level, be it government or corporate, institutional or personal.”

The queen observed that this trip to the United States is her fifth visit to the country.  She and her husband arrived May 3 in Richmond, Virginia, and began their itinerary in Jamestown, to help commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in North America.  The royal couple then traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to watch the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race on May 5, before flying to Washington in preparation for their official welcome May 7 by the president and first lady.

During the queen’s tour of Jamestown, she and her husband were escorted by Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne.  In his address to the queen, Cheney recalled that she had visited the United States as Britain’s sovereign 50 years earlier.  “A half-century has done nothing to diminish the respect and affection which this country holds for you,” he said.

On the evening of May 7, the president and first lady will host a state dinner to honor the queen and the duke.  It will be a white-tie event - the grandest, most formal type of official entertainment at the White House - and 134 guests are expected to attend.  The evening’s festivities will include a performance by world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman.

The queen will join the first lady on the morning of May 8 for a tour of Children’s National Medical Center, and later will visit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the National World War II Memorial, where she will meet with British war brides who married U.S. soldiers more than 60 years ago.  That evening, the queen and the duke will have dinner with the Bushes at the British Embassy in Washington before flying back to London.

A transcript of the remarks by the president and the queen is available on the White House Web site, as is more information on the queen’s visit.