Queen comforts victims of 'dreadful' Virginia Tech massacre
Monarch starts U.S. tour to mark 400th anniversary of Jamestown settlement
Queen Elizabeth reached out on Thursday to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacreas shebegan her six-day tour of the United States in the Virginia capital of Richmond.
"As a state and a nation, you are still coming to terms with the dreadful events of Virginia Tech on the 16th of April," she said, addressing the Virginia legislature.
"My heart goes out to the students, friends and families of all those killed, and to the many others who have been affected, some of whom I shall be meeting shortly."
The Queen made plans to meet privately with some survivors of the April 16 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the town of Blacksburg.
A gunman killed 32 peopleon campus, then killed himself.
"On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow."
The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip,arrived in Virginia mid-afternoon Thursday, and were greeted by hundreds of people who stood in line for hours.
"How often do you get to see the reigning monarch, much less in your own town?" said Keith Gary, who had stood in line since dawn.
TheQueen, 81,plans tospend two days in Virginia, one in Kentucky and three in Washington, D.C.Her trip, the first to the United States in 16 years, includes many tours, lunches and receptions.
She is scheduled to attend the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and while in Washington she'll meet U.S. President George W. Bush, tour NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center andvisit theNational Second World War Memorial.
Marks 400th anniversary of Jamestown
The Queen is in Virginia primarily to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, considered England's first permanent settlement in what is now the United States. It was founded in 1607.
Wearing a pink hat, she smiled as she told those gathered inside the Virginia legislature that she was last inthe state50 years ago to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the settlement—a comment that drew laughter from the audience.
She noted that in 50 years, her perspective on Jamestown has changed.
"Fifty years on, we are now in a position to reflect more candidly on the Jamestown legacy," she said. "Human progress rarely comes without a cost."
She mentioned that while it is still important to commemorate the sacrifice and dedication of the early settlers, it's also important to remember the outcome of their settlement.
"Three great civilizations came together for the first time — western European, native American and African — and released a train of eventsthat continues to have a profound human impact not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom and Europe."
While she did not go into detail about the type of impact the settlement had, she mentioned how far the United States and United Kingdom have come since Jamestown was founded. Both countries have also changed since her visit to Virginia 50 years ago.
"My country has become much more diverse, just as the Commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America has," she said.
The Queen's first visit to Virginia in October 1957 marked her first trip to the United States.
With files from the Associated Press