LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II said Wednesday that she and Prince Philip will visit Virginia in May to mark the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in America.
The trip to the site of the Jamestown Settlement on the southeast U.S. coast will be the fourth state visit to the United States for the queen and the prince, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The queen briefly announced the planned visit during her annual speech to parliament on Wednesday, when she was outlining the government's legislative program for the coming session of Parliament.
Officials at Buckingham Palace confirmed the royal couple would go to Jamestown for celebration events, but said precise schedule details had not been confirmed.
"It is unlikely any further details will be known until next year," said a Buckingham Palace spokesman on customary condition of anonymity, in line with policy.
U.S. President George W. Bush said in Moscow on Wednesday that he hoped the visit would celebrate strong British and U.S. relations.
"The United States and the United Kingdom enjoy an extraordinary friendship that is sustained by deep historical and cultural ties and a commitment to defend freedom around the world," the statement said. "We look forward to Her Majesty's State Visit as an occasion to celebrate these enduring bonds."
In Virginia, organizers of the Wednesday they were pleased that the queen confirmed she will visit Virginia for the anniversary.
"Her visit escalates the commemoration to the international level," Jamestown 2007 spokesman Kevin Crossett said in a telephone interview. "We've been hopeful for the past decade that the queen would be able to visit."
The Jamestown settlement began as a business venture by a group of merchants operating under a charter granted by King James 1 in 1606. In the early years the settlers were nearly wiped out by hunger and disease. Later, tobacco exports helped the colony survive financially and Jamestown eventually became the capital of the Virginia colony until the capital was moved to nearby Williamsburg in 1699.
The queen and Prince Philip have made three previous state visits to the United States, the last in May 1991 to meet Bush. The earlier state visits were in 1957 and 1976.