Local Commentary

Senator Whipple’s Richmond Report

Last week was a historic week in Virginia with the rededication of the Capitol in Richmond and the visit of Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the settlement in Jamestown.

Last week was a historic week in Virginia with the rededication of the Capitol in Richmond and the visit of Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the settlement in Jamestown.

The newly-renovated Capitol is beautiful! My husband and I attended the Preview Gala the night before the dedication . The House and Senate Chambers had been open for the Reconvened Session in early April but ths was the first time we got to see the new Visitors’ Center.

Visiting the Capitol is going to be a much nicer experience in the future. The Visitors’ Center has been dug out under Capitol Hill so it does not mar the vista from the South Portico. There are displays to view, a nice gift shop, an expanded cafeteria, and rooms for groups to congregate in before taking a tour of the Capitol.

The historic Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, has been restored to its former glory. The colors in the Chamber now go back to when the wings were added in 1905. The oldest part of the Capitol, built around 1800, has been restored and modernized with improved energy systems and electric wiring while the foundation has been strengthened and should last for a long time to come.

I really urge you to visit Richmond sometime this year to visit the Capitol.  

Exciting as the re-opening of the Capitol was, I must say it was eclipsed by the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Of course I also have to confess that I have been reading about "the little Princesses" since I was a little girl and that we have lived in England, so I was probably fully prepared to be impressed.

The Queen did not disappoint.

She was regal, gracious and dignified – just exactly what we might have expected.

She addressed a Joint Session of the General Assembly, carefully reading her speech so that every word would be exactly right and then ended, with a beautiful smile, "and that’s why I am so happy to be here."

I was lucky enough to be sitting in the front row so I was able to see perfectly and the Queen and Prince Philip passed right in front of me as they walked to the dais.

The next day I was one of 400 invited guests at the luncheon for the Queen at the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg. On a beautiful day, we enjoyed colonial music in the gardens and then moved to the very large tent that accommodated the entire group. The Governor made remarks to which the Queen responded and we all enjoyed an excellent meal featuring rockfish from the Chesapeake Bay.

Finally we were at William and Mary where the Queen was welcomed as the newest member of the Class of 2007 and we got to see her famous wave from the balcony.

All in all, a gala week in Virginia.