WASHINGTON – Queen Elizabeth II, once known in the British military as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, was to honor American soldiers with a visit Tuesday to the National World War II Memorial.
After a day of pomp Monday, capped by a white-tie state dinner hosted by President George W. Bush, the British monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, were to join first lady Laura Bush in a tour of Children's National Medical Center and to visit NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
It will be the queen's first visit to the war memorial, which was dedicated in 2004. The queen, a teenage princess during World War II, won permission in 1945 from her father, King George VI, to join the war effort as a driver in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women's branch of the British Army. She became No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor.
• Click here for photos of the queen's visit.
Following the daytime tours, in the final event of the six-day visit, the royal couple will host the Bushes at the British Embassy for dinner before departing for a flight back to England.
On Monday morning, the Bushes waited on a near-perfect spring day as the queen and Prince Philip arrived by limousine for their official welcome at the White House. The two couples briefly shook hands before moving on to the formal welcome, which included trumpet fanfares and a 21-gun salute.
The day ended with a second visit to the White House for the administration's first white-tie state dinner. It was designed to showcase American culture and cuisine. But the hosts did not forget to include special touches designed to honor its British ally and make the queen feel welcome.
The centuries-old vermeil flatware and candelabras came from a London silversmith. A made-of-sugar replica of the queen's 1953 coronation rose graced the cake.
English farmhouse cheeses accompanied the salad course. And the traditional "special guest" invited only at the last minute was sure to be of interest to a horse enthusiast such as the queen: Calvin Borel, the jockey who rode Street Sense to victory in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday with the royals in attendance.
"It's just like winning the Kentucky Derby — it might even be better," Borel said as he arrived for the dinner.
On the other hand, there was the president suggesting Queen Elizabeth was over 230 years old.
The queen, a sprightly 81, gave an embarrassed Bush a gracious nod after he suggested she had celebrated the United States' founding in 1776. He meant to say she had attended 1976 bicentennial festivities.
"She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child," the president quipped, earning a reserved chuckle from his guest.
The president's slip of the tongue during morning welcoming speeches was inadvertent, of course, and quickly smoothed over with humor. But it was not exactly the flawless effort Bush had hoped would erase memories of the "talking hat" episode during the queen's last U.S. visit. (In 1991, during Bush's father's administration, a too-tall lectern left the audience able to see only the queen's hat behind microphones.)
For the sixth state dinner of Bush's presidency, the State Dining Room was decked out in white and gold. Among the 134 guests were scores of diplomats, business men and women and members of Congress. Other than football star Peyton Manning and golfer Arnold Palmer, the celebrity quotient was low.
In the leaders' toasts at dinner, they took opposite tacks. Bush praised the queen for a reign that has "deepened our friendship and strengthened our alliance," while the British monarch talked of the threat of terror, problems like climate change and the likelihood of occasional disagreement between allies.
"Ours is a partnership always to be reckoned with in the defense of freedom and the spread of prosperity," she said.
Virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman performed what he called "musical bonbons" as an after-dinner treat. The evening was capped with songs from the U.S. Army Chorus.
It was a day of high pomp and pageantry from a president known for his informality. It also was an uplifting event for a White House at a time when Bush's approval rating has dropped near all-time lows and he battles a Democratic Congress over funding for the unpopular Iraq war.
The queen's visit is her fifth to the United States in 50 years and her first since 1991.