Thousands of cheering, boisterous Americans gave the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh overwhelming receptions at each stage of their programme yesterday during the first hours of the State visit to the United States.
The Queen and the Duke spent the day in Virginia – at Jamestown, where they visited the festival park marking the 350th anniversary of the first British settlement in the US – and at the 17th century colonial town of Williamsburg.
Earlier yesterday they had left Ottawa at the end of their Canadian visit.
Security precautions, which had been tightened for the Queen’s arrival following a Canadian report that her life was threatened by “fringe elements” of the Irish Republican Party, were later relaxed. In fact one of the remarkable features of the tour of Jamestown was the compete absence of rigid formality.
At a dinner given by the Governor of Virginia, Mr Thomas Stanley, in Williamsburg last night, the Queen said that she and her husband had had a “wonderful day” and a “fascinating experience” in visiting the two towns.
The drive to the reception was a highlight of the day for which many thousands of citizens had patiently waited. The Queen and the Duke mounted an open carriage, accompanied by Mr and Mrs Winthrop Rockefeller, and drove down Williamsburg’s main avenue while spectators six-deep on either side waved and clapped.
The warmth of America’s reception was evident right from the moment when the four-engined Royal aircraft touched down at Patrick Henry airfield, near Williamsburg, and a crowd of 10,000 Americans, mostly dressed in jeans, summer dresses or open-necked “Hawaiian” shirts, sent up a roar to rival the thunder of the 21-gun salute.