Monday, June 8, 2009

Huge crowds greet George and Elizabeth

Embed from Getty Images
June 8, 1939

An enthusiastic crowd today "turned out today to watch and take part in the pomp, ceremony and vivid color with which the national capital greeted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth," reports the New York Times.

"A solid mass of people" stood on the streets, "filled the roofs and windows of buildings, overflowed into grandstands and hung out on statues and every possible vantage point" from Union Station to the White House.

This is the first visit of a British sovereign to the United States, and a "waving mass of American and British flags," were held in thousands of hands.

King George VI rode in the front of the procession with President Roosevelt, smiling and saluting. Queen Elizabeth, "much less formal," was in the second car with the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, waved and smiled. Crowds along the route were curious and cheerful, "shouted and clapped its applause.

The crowds began gathering at 4:00 a.m., along the procession route. "The flags and the applause spread like a rolling wave" along Delaware Avenue to the Capitol and on Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues.

Both cars were open with no roofs. The king wore an admiral's full dress, and the Queen was seen holding a parasol over her head to protect her from the late spring sun. The two cars were followed by "two automobiles bearing Secret Service."

The pace slowed as the cars passed in front of the Capitol. The King smiled and saluted and Mr. Roosevelt "frequently raised his hat and smiled also."
The Queen "seemed to look directly into the faces of massed people as she waved gracefully with her right hand to the onlookers." She "snapped her parasol shut" as she passed the Washington hotel, near the Treasury building.

The king was seen to exchange remarks with the President, and it was evident that King George was moved by the roar of the crowd. The cheers continued even after the procession pulled into the White House grounds.

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