Queen Elizabeth II pleas for world peace in NY visit

6th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II pleaded for world peace Tuesday in her first visit in five decades to UN headquarters at the start of a whirlwind tour of a sweltering New York.

The 84-year-old monarch, who was last in the Big Apple in 1976, wore a two piece white ensemble with blue and beige print and a matching silk hat as she arrived with husband Prince Philip for the one-day visit, which followed a nine-day stay in Canada.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Elizabeth II noted she'd stood before the same body 53 years earlier, in 1957, when the United Nations was in its infancy.

Praising the "remarkable" achievements of the UN since then, she said that "the waging of peace is the hardest form of leadership of all."

New challenges of "terrorism" and "climate change" were adding to the huge tests facing the world body, she said.

"When people in 53 years from now look back on us, they will doubtless view many of our practices as old-fashioned. But it is my hope that, when judged by future generations, our willingness to take a lead... will stand the test of time."

She was at the UN as queen of 16 states and head of the British Commonwealth.

After, she was to pay homage at Ground Zero with a wreath-laying at the site of the former World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Then she was to meet with relatives of victims, as well as representatives of the police and fire crews who responded to the attack in which Islamist hijackers flew two airliners into the Twin Towers, killing almost 3,000 people.

Before flying back to London, Elizabeth II was also formally to open Manhattan's British Memorial Garden at Hanover Square, dedicated to the 67 British victims of 9/11.

New York is accustomed to celebrities and heads of state, but the queen's visit provided welcome distraction from a heatwave featuring temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) across the US north-east.

The Daily News tabloid published tips on etiquette, instructing readers not to bow if they meet the queen, since they are not subjects, but neither to try offering her a New York-style "fistbump or high-five."

Readers were also advised to steer clear in conversation from mentions of Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew who was caught attempting to sell access to her ex-husband in a media sting in May, then admitting that she was suffering from money and drink problems.

"Chat instead about dogs and horses; the queen likes them," the News suggested.

Commuter freesheet AM New York, meanwhile, warned the monarch might not like New York's fierce temperatures. "God Save the Queen (and us!)" the front page joked. "Her Majesty visits Baked Apple."

The royal couple's Canada trip took them to a horse race, a visit to the factory making BlackBerry smart phones and Canada Day celebrations.

There was drama on Monday when a power outage plunged Toronto into chaos just ahead of a state dinner. Thousands of people were stranded in office buildings or stuck on roads snarled by the sudden absence of traffic lights.

The British head of state's tour comes at a time when Buckingham Palace is feeling some of the same budget crunch pressuring the rest of the country.

Britain's finance minister George Osborne announced a shake-up in royal funding in June.

He also said that the 7.9 million pounds (9.5 million euros, 11.6 million dollars) royal operating budget will remain frozen, as it has been for the last 20 years, despite media reports that royal officials are requesting an increase.

© 2010 AFP

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