Letter From British Heritage – September 2007

6/29/2007 • BH Issues

Champagne and Dover Sole Almondine for Everyone!

It was the first white-tie affair of the Bush presidency. The formal state dinner at the White House capped a marvelous visit for HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to these colonial shores. It’s not every day the Queen comes calling; this spring’s trip was Her Majesty’s first such state visit since 1991. In addition to formal festivities in the nation’s capital, the royal couple visited Richmond and Jamestown in honor of 400th anniversary commemorations of the first permanent colony on these shores. The Queen also got to fulfill a longstanding desire to witness the Kentucky Derby, where, rumor has it, she sipped tea instead of mint juleps.

At the Rose Garden ceremony welcoming the British monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh to Washington, the Queen’s remarks reminded us why it is we stage these lavish state events. They give us pause to reflect in a different light upon the historic relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, and to remember the bonds of common culture, common values and common language that inextricably tie our interests together. Our dignitaries get together once in a while and celebrate this connection to much healthy public interest. A little champagne, Dover sole almondine and sentiment is a good thing.

British Heritage readers don’t need to be jogged about these common interests, of course. Every issue of the magazine displays an eclectic repository of reminders. Whether you are a frequent visitor to Britain, one of 675,000 British expats living in the States or a lifelong armchair Anglophile, you will find pages that illumine and enlighten—“mixing memory and desire,” in T.S. Eliot’s phrase.

This issue takes us from the 60th anniversary of Heathrow airport to the Red Arrows. Then, we ramble up the Great North Road to a high school prom in Kelso and out to the Cotswolds for tales of Gloucester and the Three Choirs Festival. Is there independence in Scotland’s future? How can you see the Welsh National History Museum at St. Fagans in just one day? Have you been to South Kensington lately? Will ring-necked parakeets swallow Surrey? Suggested answers to these and a hundred questions you didn’t yet ask lie within these pages.

Indeed, British Heritage is like a state dinner—commemorating the past and celebrating the present. All such events, of course, require company manners, bonnie humor and good will, best foot forward and the like. The banquet is spread, and you are invited. Please pass the Marmite.