WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The 53 students, professors and alumni chosen for a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday were warned she might breeze past them without a word.

Fortunately for them, Her Majesty was in a chatty mood.

She entered the Great Hall of the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary and worked her way down the reception line like a presidential candidate rather than a monarch.

Evan Young, from San Antonio, Texas, scored a regal smile when he casually mentioned he studied British constitutional history as a Marshall Scholar.

Gesturing to the portrait of Queen Anne hanging over the hall’s black and pink marble fireplace, Young noted she was the last British monarch to use the royal veto to squash an act of Parliament.

The queen started her day with visits to the Jamestown Settlement and the archaeological dig at Historic Jamestowne.

At the museum near the James Fort, she was particularly taken with a crumbling, long-handled iron spatula used to treat constipation, described in the exhibit as a “disease that killeth many.”

The queen summoned Dr. David Swain, a Royal Navy physician who accompanies her on trips, and joked, “You should have something like that.”

In her first visit to Williamsburg and Jamestown since 1957, Queen Elizabeth II seemed to enjoy flirting with her myriad American admirers. The 81-year-old set fashion mavens aflutter by changing from a teal and sage outfit to a mauve and blue ensemble at midday. And she paused to visit with scores of gaga fans as she toured Historic Jamestowne and the College of William and Mary.

The most intimate moments occurred at the college’s Great Hall.

The queen extended a white-gloved hand to a goose-bumpy Valerie Hopkins, vice president of the Student Assembly at William and Mary, and quipped, “Oh, so you get to do extra work.”

The students stared in open-mouthed awe at the regal lady with her cotton-candy hat, but a few minutes before her arrival they had been in animated debate over what to say to her.

“I’ll just say, “I like your shoes,”‘ decided Kevin Dua, a sophomore from William and Mary.

“The question I would ask is what happens at the end of Harry Potter because I figure if anyone knows, she does,” said Matt Taylor, another W&M student.

“I’d ask if I could come out to the palace for a visit,” said Dwayne Littlejohn, student president at Norfolk State University.

Littlejohn admitted he was a bit nervous about his brush with royalty.

“This is something that you only see in movies,” he said. “I hope I don’t sneeze.”

Most people could only hope to catch a glimpse of the queen from afar.

Outside the Wren Building, thousands lined up on the lawn to watch her make a short walk before receiving an honorary degree as part of the class of 2007. Those lucky enough to wrangle special white passes were allowed up close; the rest had to watch on large-screen monitors from farther back on the lawn.

Six-year-old Elizabeth Brush got up early Friday morning and picked out a long white sundress with lavender flowers. She didn’t care if the forecast was for a chilly day. She knew what she wanted to wear to see the queen who shared her name.

Elizabeth had watched the queen on television the night before and was disappointed. “Where is her gown?” she asked her mother.

“She’s learning that the queen of England does not dress the way Disney’s princesses dress,” her mother, Kim Brush, said.

Elizabeth quickly worked her way to the front row, just outside the door where the queen would make her way into the Wren Building, and began the 21/2-hour wait.

Nearby, Hilary Harveycutter, 20, of Salem, Va., sat on the grass scribbling furiously, hardly looking up as people announced false sightings. The history and art history major at William and Mary had a paper due at 5 p.m. on Queen Anne. But she couldn’t miss the visit of a real queen, so she decided to work on the paper while she waited.

“I’m only 500 words short,” she said about 3:30 as she sprinted off to her computer. “And I have to revise the whole thing, too.”

Ellen Melvin, a retired teacher from Hampton, Va., stood on a folding chair, one of a handful left in the area. Visitors were not allowed to bring their own or umbrellas or even water bottles.

“Ever since I was a little girl with my little View-Master reel of the Queen’s Coronation, I always wanted to see the queen,” she said. “I figured I’d better make it now.”

At 2:33 p.m., a small cheer went up and a few minutes later, a few lucky spectators could see a glimpse of mauve and neon blue as she walked around the rear of the building. At 2:43, there were cheers and polite, royal applause.

Gene R. Nichol, the president of William and Mary, announced her arrival at 2:45. “Your majesty,” he said, “I think it’s fair to say that your ancient college is delighted and proud to welcome you back.”

During a brief lull, a call rose out of the crowd. “Queen, I love you,” a young man shouted.

At 3 p.m., the queen stood and began a short stroll. You couldn’t see her, but you could trace her progress by the hovering of cameras held above people’s heads, which followed her like the wave at a ballpark.

Little Elizabeth Brush said it was worth the wait, even though the queen never looked in her direction. What did she think of her outfit? “That was pretty purple,” she observed.

Her mother managed a photo “of her backside” as the Queen walked in the door. But it would still make its way into the scrapbook she and Elizabeth planned to put together to remember the occasion.

At 3:15 p.m. Queen Elizabeth II walked out onto the balcony of the Wren Building and lavished a few more of her hand waves onto the crowd.

Then she was gone, and spectators quickly disbursed.

Back on Duke of Gloucester Street, Brian and Dani Pourciau of Harpersville, Ala., sat relaxing with their two corgi dogs, Echo and Lilly. The breed is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth’s, and the couple, who brought 30 schoolchildren to Williamsburg, decided to take their dogs when they learned she would be here.

“We thought that she might miss her corgis,” Dani said. “We thought that if she had a little glimpse of Echo and Lilly it would keep her from being homesick and she would enjoy her visit.”

(c) 2007, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.).

Visit Pilot Online, the World Wide Web site of the Virginian-Pilot, at http://www.pilotonline.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): QUEEN

GRAPHICS (from MCT Graphics, 202-383-6064): QUEEN VISIT

AP-NY-05-04-07 2114EDT

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