The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Gerald R. Ford
Remarks of Welcome to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
July 7, 1976

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the American people, I am delighted to welcome you and your party to the United States and to the White House.

Your first state visit to America in 1957 marked the 350th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown, the first permanent British colony in this new land. You honor us again by coming to share our Bicentennial observance in the new spirit of optimism and cooperation generated by this great occasion.

During the 169 years between the first settlement of Jamestown and our independence, 13 Colonies prospered, protected by the British Navy, enjoying the advantage of British commerce, and adopting British concepts of representative self-government. In declaring independence in 1776, we looked for guidance to our British heritage of representative government--representative government as well as law. As a sovereign nation we have kept and nurtured the most durable bond of all--the bond of idealism in which our new nation was conceived.

Your Majesty's visit symbolizes our deep and continuing commitment to the common values of an Anglo-American civilization. Your Majesty, for generations our peoples have worked together and fought together side by side. As democracies we continue our quest for peace and justice.

The challenges we now face are different from those that we have confronted together and overcome in the past. At stake is the future of the industrialized democracies which have sustained their destiny in common for more than a generation. At stake is the further extension of the blessings of liberty, to all humanity in the creation of a better world. As new nations and old, each set their political course to achieve these aims. The principles of human dignity and individual rights set forth in the Magna Carta and our own Declaration of Independence remain truly revolutionary landmarks.

Your Majesty, the wounds of our parting in 1776 healed long ago. Americans admire the United Kingdom as one of our truest allies and best friends. There could be no more convincing evidence of that friendship than the splendid British contributions and participation on the occasion of our Bicentennial.

Last month I had the privilege and honor to welcome to the White House Rose Garden the distinguished delegation of the British Parliament, who escorted an historic copy of the Magna Carta to America. The loan of this document for our Bicentennial is a gesture that will bring pleasure and inspiration to all who view it.

Yesterday, in Philadelphia, Your Majesty inaugurated the new Bicentennial bell, a gift from the people of Britain to the people of the United States, inscribed "Let Freedom Ring." It will hang in the Bell Tower in Independence National Historical Park. When I was in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July, I thought what a perfect complement the new bell will be to our own Liberty Bell and the Centennial bell in Independence Hall.

For these gifts and for many others which Britain has honored our historic celebration, the American people are deeply grateful. Above all, we appreciate the personal honor you have so graciously demonstrated by visiting our shores at this special moment in our history.

During your visit you will travel to hallowed American landmarks. You will observe many changes since you were here last. But as you travel throughout our land, I trust that you will find something else in the United States--a new sense of unity, of friendship, of purpose, and tranquillity. Something wonderful happened to America this past weekend. A spirit of unity and togetherness deep within the American soul sprang to the surface in a way that we had almost forgotten. People showed again that they care, that they want to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, that they want to pull together for the good of the Nation and for the good of mankind.

This weekend we had a marvelous reaffirmation of the American spirit. In the days ahead, we would like very much to share that spirit with you.

During your visit in 1957, President Eisenhower remarked that America's respect for Britain was symbolized in our affection for the royal family. It is in this spirit we welcome Your Majesty's visit as a happy occasion for reaffirming our joint dedication to freedom, to peace, democracy, and the wall-being of our people.

Your Majesty, America bids you, Prince Philip, and your party a most cordial and heartfelt welcome.

Citation: Gerald R. Ford: "Remarks of Welcome to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.", July 7, 1976. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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