July 6, 2010


Queen Elizabeth to Visit Manhattan on Tuesday (ROBERT D. McFADDEN, 7/06/10, NY Times)

Nearly two decades later, in 1976, the 50-year-old queen made her second visit to New York, marking the Bicentennial of America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, part of a six-day tour that took her to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. She was hailed by huge crowds and became a centerpiece of the celebrations. Mayor Abraham D. Beame proclaimed her an honorary New Yorker.

Now, in the twilight of a reign that has spanned 58 years, one of the longest of any British monarch, the 84-year-old queen is to visit New York on Tuesday for a third and perhaps final time, accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The royals will arrive in a private plane from Canada, where they have been traveling for nine days, and fly home to Britain in the evening.

Although the queen arrives in the summer’s worst heat wave, she is not the wilting kind. The dark hair has gone white and the shoulders are a bit rounded with age now, but her step is still lively and the face engaged on a reception line or at a garden party as she shakes another hundred hands and speaks with simple dignity. She is addressed initially as “Your Majesty” and thereafter as “Ma’am.”

What can a visitor do with less than a half-day in New York? Quite a lot, it seems, if she is moving through Manhattan’s traffic morass in a motorcade escorted by police officers, watched over by cordons of federal, state and Scotland Yard agents and ushered through formalities by a protocol phalanx from City Hall and the State Department.

In contrast to her first two visits to the city — what might be called her awe-struck first impressions and her more mature celebratory return — this is to be a short, relatively solemn occasion: a valedictory at the United Nations, a reflective half-hour at ground zero and a stroll through a garden created in the canyons of Lower Manhattan as a memorial to the 67 Britons killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Queen’s Tears: And global resolve against terrorism. (Mark Steyn,September 17, 2001, National Review)
The foreign leader who said it best last week was the Queen, though she didn't really say a word. I have met Her Majesty from time to time (I am one of her Canadian subjects), and to put it at its mildest, for those with a taste for American vernacular politics, she can be a little stiff: The Queen stands on ceremony and she has a lot of ceremony to stand on. But on Thursday, for the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, she ordered the Coldstream Guards to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" — the first time a foreign anthem had been played at the ceremony. The following day something even more unprecedented happened: At Britain's memorial service for the war dead of last Tuesday, the first chords of "The Star-Spangled Banner" rumbled up from the great organ at St Paul's Cathedral, and the Queen did something she's never done before — she sang a foreign national anthem, all the words. She doesn't sing her own obviously ("God Save Me"), but she's never sung "La Marseillaise" or anything else, either; her lips never move.

And at that same service she also sang "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic," for the second time in her life — the first was at the funeral of her first prime minister, Winston Churchill. On Friday, she fought back tears. When she ascended the throne, Harry Truman was in the White House. The first president she got to know was Eisenhower, back in the war, when he'd come to the palace to brief her father. She is the head of state of most of the rest of the English-speaking world — Queen of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Belize, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, etc. But she understands something that few other leaders of the West seem to — that today the ultimate guarantor of the peace and liberty of her realms is the United States. If America falls, or is diminished, or retreats in on itself, there is no "free world." That's the meaning of the Queen's "Ich bin ein Amerikaaner" moment.

Don't ask me who else you can count on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 6, 2010 5:57 AM
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