Queen Elizabeth II will visit the United States Tuesday for the seventh time in her 57-year reign as Britain’s monarch, addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York and touring the partially reconstructed site at ground zero.
The first time the queen visited New York – in 1957, just four years into her reign – “Leave It to Beaver” was making its American television debut, President Eisenhower had recently ordered federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce desegregation of Central High School, and the Soviet Union had just launched Sputnik.
Her address to the United Nations then “highlighted the U.N.'s importance and expressed her wish that it would carry out the ideals set out in its founding charter,” according to a CBS News report. The UN at the time was barely a decade old.
Her Majesty’s speech on Tuesday is expected to appeal for world unity and peace. A former aide says it will include some of her personal thoughts from her long observation of world affairs, though it will have been penned with government officials, Associated Press reports.
"It will be a strong message coming from the British head of state. She will be delivering it on behalf of the British government," Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to the queen, told AP.
The queen’s half-day visit Tuesday will be a whirlwind affair, coming at the end of a nine-day tour in Canada in connection with Canada Day. She is accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Her first stop will be at the UN General Assembly. From there, she will make her first visit to ground zero, laying a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center towers where nearly 2,900 people perished in the 9/11 attacks. Govs. David Paterson of New York and Christopher Christie of New Jersey will accompany her.
Her last stop will be in Lower Manhattan at the British Garden in Hanover Square. The garden is a memorial to British subjects who died on 9/11, and some 50 families of victims will greet the queen during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the site.
One of the most-traveled government representatives ever, the octogenarian queen is known in the four corners of the globe – from China and Russia to South Africa, Thailand, and dozens of places in between. She has been to the United States six times previously – in 1957, 1959, 1976 (for America’s bicentennial celebration), 1983, 1991, and 2007.
Though Americans just celebrated their Declaration of Independence 234 years ago from the British monarchy, they seem to hold a soft spot in their hearts for this particular royal. Since 1948, Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on Gallup’s annual Top 10 list of most admired women more often than any other – 42 times.
In the most recent poll, in December 2009, the queen was the American public’s sixth most-admired woman, behind Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, talk-show diva Oprah Winfrey, first lady Michelle Obama, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“At a time when monarchies are not in fashion she has preserved Britain's own particular brand for future generations by adroitly adapting and modernising the institution to the times,” observes Britannia.com.
Americans, it would seem, agree.