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Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth Returns to William and Mary

Thousands gathered at the College of William and Mary today to welcome Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Virginia. The visit marks 50 years since Her Majesty last came to the College. More than 6,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the public came to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

They got much more than that. After a program featuring performances by the William and Mary Choir and two of the College’s a cappella groups—the Gentleman of the College and the Accidentals—Her Majesty through the crowd and then was presented to several groups of distinguished guests and members of the campus community in the Wren Building’s Great Hall and President’s Gallery.

Following a ringing of the Wren Bell, Jess Vance (’07), president of the Senior Class, introduced Queen Elizabeth as the newest member of the Class of 2007. Below are remarks delivered by William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol during Friday’s welcome in the Wren Courtyard.

President Gene R. Nichol's Remarks:

"Your Majesty, I think it fair to say that your ancient College is delighted and proud to welcome you back. We are ancient, at least by standards on this side of the water, if not your own.

It is an honor beyond description to enjoy your company. And the company of so many others whose favor the College of William and Mary today claims. Justice O’Connor, our Chancellor; Governor Kaine, and Ms. Holton; Lt. Governor and Mrs. Bolling; Justice Anthony Kennedy; Distinguished Members of the Virginia congressional delegation, and the General Assembly; Rector Powell and members of the Board of Visitors; Ambassador and Lady Manning, from the British Embassy in Washington, and Ambassador and Mrs. Tuttle, our representatives to the Court of St. James. Even my mother is here from Texas.

In the words Justice O’Connor spoke from this spot a year ago —“the William and Mary family”—our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends—we are delighted to see you all.

We welcome you, Your Majesty, to the College born and chartered in Great Britain—but nurtured in the colony, and then this Commonwealth -- whose progress, and endeavor, and even its name, bear the mark of your predecessors, and our common heritage. Your time in Jamestown, in Williamsburg, and here in the courtyard of the magnificent Wren, traces an American story -- whose chapter we acknowledge this spring.

We are mindful of what this College has set in motion—not only the attainments and brilliance and spirit of the thousands of students before you today—but, in its earliest times, the honing and development of a new world enlightenment political philosophy – that has worked to change the Commonwealth and the globe. These powerful markers—your predecessors—our namesakes set it play. And we are, at the risk of acute understatement, profoundly grateful. Profoundly grateful we are.

Their vision, manifest in the Royal Charter, was of a certain place of universal study—of all good liberal arts and sciences. A place where, more than others, perhaps, the soundings of heritage are profound. With a King and Queen gate—steps to our north—a King and Queen Ball—celebrated just last week. And today, for a brief and lovely moment, “Your Majesty.” I have been told and told to work in “Ma’am,” but little compares to “Your Majesty.” I confess that I am taken with it.

So we are tremendously honored that you are with us. On the platform as well is Jess Vance, President of our Class of 2007, who’ll speak in a moment. But first, Your Majesty, may I present the William and Mary Choir, and—then, in a rare joint performance —two of our finest a cappella groups, the Accidentals and the Gentlemen of the College. "