Crown and Commonwealth

Queen Elizabeth II addresses the press and assembled military units at Patrick Henry Airport (now Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport); Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.
Queen Elizabeth II addresses the press and assembled military units at Patrick Henry Airport (now Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport); Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.

Queen Elizabeth, Philip Welcomed in Virginia

Gun Salute, 10–Hour Tour Greet British Royal Couple

By John Kinnier
Times–Dispatch News Bureau

WILLIAMSBURG, Oct. 16—Virginians welcomed Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Wednesday with a booming 21–gun salute and a crowded 10–hour schedule of history, hospitality and occasionally clamorous acclamation.

The royal visit to Jamestown and Williamsburg, the first ever by a reigning British monarch, was a historic occasion recognized by the queen in several brief, graceful speeches during the day.

At Jamestown, a focal point of the queen’s American visit, the overseas expansion of the English–speaking people began and the British Commonwealth of Nations got its start.

“The great American nation was born at this historic place, 350 years ago,” Elizabeth said as she was welcomed by Governor Stanley at Jamestown Festival Park.

“I cannot think of a more appropriate point for us to start our visit to the United States,” she said.

“The settlement in Jamestown was the beginning of a series of overseas settlements made throughout the world by British pioneers. Jamestown grew and became the United States. Those other settlements grew and became nations now united in our great commonwealth.

“This festival illustrates these two stories, yours and ours. They are stories in which all of us, in the United States, in Britain, and throughout the commonwealth take a special pride. In essence, they are both stories of experiments and adventures in freedom,” she said.

Asks Ideals Be Pursued

Elizabeth asked that the ideals of the Jamestown settlers who established the first lasting British colony in the New World be pursued with faith and determination “so that 350 years from now our descendants will be as proud of us as we are of our forefathers.”

The queen’s full schedule, followed for the most part with split–second timing, included military honors upon her arrival at Patrick Henry Airport, a religious service in the Old Tower Church on Jamestown island, a hurried tour of the main exhibits at Jamestown Festival Park, tea at the College of William and Mary, an informal reception for some 1,500 guests at the Governor’s Palace and a state dinner at the Williamsburg Inn attended by the Governor and members of the state and federal festival commissions.

State police estimated that 50,000 persons saw the queen at Patrick Henry Airport, Williamsburg, Jamestown and along the route she took Wednesday on the first day of her visit to the United States.

It was a demanding schedule which began promptly at 1:30 p.m. as the queen stepped smilingly from the door of the Royal Canadian Air Force plane which brought the royal party from Ottawa and ended some 10 hours later as the queen and Prince Philip said goodnight to their dinner hosts at the Williamsburg Inn.

Throughout the day, the queen appeared calm, unhurried and happy; interested in the things she was shown and in the several dozen persons to whom she spoke.

The royal party being greeted by Wiley T. Buchanan, chief of protocol for the State Department, Governor Thomas B. Stanley, and British Ambassador Sir Harold Caccia; Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.
The royal party being greeted by Wiley T. Buchanan, chief of protocol for the State Department, Governor Thomas B. Stanley, and British Ambassador Sir Harold Caccia; Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.

The big Canadian plane touched ground at 1:27 p.m. and taxied to the point where the official welcoming party, headed by Wiley T. Buchanan, chief of protocol for the State Department, Governor Stanley and British Ambassador Sir Harold Caccia, had gathered. A crowd, estimated by state police at 10,000 persons, had been waiting nearly two hours.

Elizabeth stepped from the plane, paused an almost imperceptible moment, and smiled. Prince Philip followed almost at once, also smiling.

The queen walked slowly down the line of waiting officials and their wives, greeting each of them, then stood with Governor Stanley as the 82d Airborne Division band played “God Save the Queen” and the national anthem.

As the strains of the music died, an army battery fired a 21–gun salute. The queen and Governor Stanley, escorted by Maj. Lehman C. Black of the airborne unit, then reviewed an honor guard made up of members of each branch of the armed forces. Flags of the 10 British commonwealth nations and the American flag fluttered from standards borne by an army unit.

The queen left the airport with Buchanan and the Governor in President Eisenhower’s “bubble–top” limousine, brought from Washington by secret service personnel for the day. Prince Philip rode in a following car with Mrs. Buchanan and Mrs. Stanley.

LORDE, we beseche thee mercifully to heare us, and unto whom thou hast geven an heartie desyre to pray; graunt that by thy mightie ayde we may be defended; through Jesus Christ our Lorde.

The royal entourage drove to Jamestown island, some 20 miles away, for a worship service in the old church of 1639. There the Rt. Rev. George P. Gunn, bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Southern Virginia, read a special prayer for the royal family and recited the prayer used during the first recorded communion service at Jamestown June 21, 1607.

Elizabeth bowed her head solemnly as prayers were offered up for the President, the queen and peace among nations. And as a gift, she received a hand wrought copy of the church’s original silver communion service.

Queen Elizabeth II addresses an audience estimated at 10,000 at Jamestown Festival Park; Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.
Queen Elizabeth II addresses an audience estimated at 10,000 at Jamestown Festival Park; Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.

From Jamestown island, the royal couple was whisked to the court of welcome at Festival Park for a red–carpet reception from the full membership of both festival commissions and a crowd which state police Inspector P. W. Crews estimated at more than 10,000. The queen stood poised and solemn on the speakers’ dais as a marine corps band played “God Save the Queen” and the national anthem. The Union Jack was lowered from its flagpole and the royal standard was raised.

In welcoming the queen to the festival, Governor Stanley said that from the very inception of the plans for the Jamestown celebration, it had been “our fond hope that the reigning Sovereign of Britain might grace the celebration.”

“Here at Jamestown was born Britain’s greatest ally in the cause of freedom and justice,” he said.

Lewis McMurran, chairman of the Virginia 350th Anniversary Commission, escorted the queen and her party on a tour of the Old World Pavilion, the British exhibit at the park, and the reconstructed James Forte.

The royals were scheduled to visit the pier at Jamestown Festival Park where reproductions of the three Jamestown ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, were docked. The royal couple decided to go on board one of the ships. One reporter quipped that, "Except for the mild stampede that occurred when the queen departed from the script and went aboard the Susan Constant, everything went remarkably smoothly all day long." Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.
The royals were scheduled to visit the pier at Jamestown Festival Park where reproductions of the three Jamestown ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, were docked. The royal couple decided to go on board one of the ships. One reporter quipped that, “Except for the mild stampede that occurred when the queen departed from the script and went aboard the Susan Constant, everything went remarkably smoothly all day long.” Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Collection, Library of Virginia.

The tour’s only unscheduled stop came at the full–scale copies of the three ships which brought the settlers to Jamestown. The couple had not been scheduled to board the vessels but they climbed the gangplank of the Susan Constant, largest of the ships.

As the queen and Philip left the ship and prepared to go to Williamsburg, a flight of 18 jet bombers—six from the Royal Air Force, six from the United States Navy and six from the United States Air Force—roared across the sky above the ship in an aerial salute.

Before leaving Festival Park for Williamsburg, Philip paused once more to speak to several children waving Union Jacks and crying, “Long live the queen.” They were children of Mrs. Louis Zuzma of Williamsburg, formerly of Australia, and of Mrs. L. T. Warriner, a Williamsburg resident who formerly lived in England.

From the park, Elizabeth and Philip came here to the home of Alvin D. Chandler, president of the College of William and Mary, and Mrs. Chandler where they had tea at 4:20 pm.

Queen Elizabeth II speaks from the balcony of the Christopher Wren Building at the College of William and Mary; WRVA Radio Collection, Library of Virginia.
Queen Elizabeth II speaks from the balcony of the Christopher Wren Building at the College of William and Mary; WRVA Radio Collection, Library of Virginia.

Twenty–five minutes later, the queen led the royal party to the Christopher Wren Building on the college campus. Additional crowds waited outside the building for a glimpse of the queen. On a small balcony draped with green and yellow bunting the royal couple exchanged gifts with James M. Robertson, rector of the board of visitors of the college, and Chandler.

The queen praised the “first college of royal foundation” in North America. I cherish this link between the crown and your college…because it is a part of our joint histories, particularly as it is a part of our histories in which we can both take pride. It also demonstrates the very close association which always existed between learning, the arts and sciences of our countries,” she said.

The queen gave the college a copy of the statutes of the Order of the Garter which had been presented to Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, the nephew of King William, “some three years after he and Queen Mary had granted a charter to their royal college in Virginia.”

The college in turn gave the queen a portfolio of original line drawings of college buildings.

After leaving the college, Elizabeth and Philip mounted a horse drawn phaeton for a 20–minute ride down Duke of Gloucester St. to the Governor’s Palace. Riding with the queen and Philip were Winthrop Rockefeller, chairman of the board of Colonial Williamsburg and Mrs. Rockefeller.

At the palace some 1,500 persons nibbled on 4,000 hot hors d’oeuvres, 5,000 cold canapes and Dutch sandwiches.

At the reception, the queen passed slowly though a long open column of guests, stopping frequently to have persons presented to her. Several steps behind, Philip chatted with guests along the way.

Following the reception the queen and Philip made a short inspection of the restored Colonial Capitol and then were driven to the Williamsburg Inn to dress for dinner. They entered the inn and ended there the public portion of their local visit, at 6:50.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 17 October 1957.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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