Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2023
Meeting Her Majesty The following is an excerpt from a new book by Bill Leighty, “Capitol Secrets.” Here are just some of the intriguing secrets the author has to spill.....
as baseball, ice cream and apple pie; it has always been that way and probably always will be. The simple point to be made is, as the old folk saying goes, hopefully, “this too shall pass.” Tom Hyland is a retired local, state and federal lobbyist residing in Centreville, Virginia. The late Thomas R. "Tom" Hyland was a dear friend to all of us who knew him. He came from humble beginnings, served his country in the U.S. Navy, and was a brilliant man who took an interest in all things. He had a delightful sense of humor. He was a lobbyist and a frequent, outstanding contributor to this publication. This was his final literary opus, written in 2017. He died at age 86 on August 23, 2018. He lived in Centreville, Virginia. Tom, we love you, and we are keeping the Republic. RIP. I asked, “Governor, is this really where you want to use your legislative capital? On an event that will happen after you are out of office? On an event that depending upon upcoming elections you may not even be invited to?” TheWarner administration stayed out of the detailed planning. But British protocol would draw the administration of Governor Kaine and me, specifically, into a much larger role after his inauguration in January 2006. The invitation for Queen Elizabeth to visit Virginia for the 400th anniversary was issued by the Virginia General Assembly to attend the commemoration and address a joint session of the body. Virginia began receiving signals that the queen might accept. Each signal was couched in opaque terms. It would be impossible to catalog all the efforts being made by a multitude of players to encourage the queen’s visit and promote the upcoming events while simultaneously trying to sleuth out her intentions. Nor can I capture here the names of the many officials and employees involved in the efforts, on both sides of the Atlantic. Throughout 2006, carefully selected delegations were sent to England in hopes of generating interest in the upcoming 400th anniversary of the founding of the Virginia Colony. At the risk of leaving out events and with the understanding that I did not attend all of them, I would like to share a glimpse of several notable interactions. I did accompany the eight chiefs of Virginia’s tribes to England for an extended trip. They were received in Parliament and by the queen at Buckingham Palace. A reception was held after the ceremony in Parliament with the descendants of family members who remained behind when the original settlers migrated to Virginia. I asked one of the attendees, “How did they locate you after all these years?” He replied, “We don’t tend to move very far from our estates here.” Enough said. I hosted an informal dinner that night in a local pub with all eight chiefs. As the dinner was winding down, Chief Ken Adams of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe addressed his fellow chiefs and said while looking around the table, “Do you realize this is the first time that we as chiefs have ever had a meal together?” The trip to England and that dinner, in my opinion, created a newfound sense of unity among Virginia’s tribal nations that remains strong today. The next day, the tribes conducted a powwow at a city park in Gravesend. The British public was treated to the honor of attending and witnessing Native American dancing firsthand. Over 100 members from the Virginia tribes in their native regalia were celebrities. They couldn’t walk 10 steps without a request to pose for a picture. I couldn’t quite process how striking the disconnect was between how the tribes were being treated in England versus how they continued to be treated in Virginia. After all, being received in Parliament, meeting with the queen, church services being held in their honor, dinners being held to fete them, and the celebrity status they encountered was all heady stuff. Continued on next page
A Meeting Fit for a Queen A Minor Breach of Protocol
the like. As the late newspaper columnist Molly Ivins has explained: “The thing about democracy … is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.” One can take the cynical view expressed by former President John Adams that: “…. Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide,” or the more optimistic view articulated by his son, former President John Quincy Adams:” Democracy, pure democracy, has at least its foundation in a generous theory of human rights…. It is founded on the natural equality of mankind.” As former U. S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson wisely has stated, the fact that while our constitution guarantees us our many essential protections,… it is not a suicide pact.” Disruption, confusion, and intense partisanship about politics, elections, legislation and all the other rudimentary activities of our various democratic institutions are as much an American way of life A Republic If You Can Keep It from page 20 Governor Warner, sensing the magnitude of the upcoming events to Virginia, wanted to be involved. He tasked Secretary of Commerce and Trade Michael Schewel to undertake an assessment of the planning efforts. Secretary Schewel’s assessment was that more work needed to be done and that the Warner administration should get involved. I reminded Governor Warner that the commission overseeing the planning was largely a legislative body and injecting the executive branch now, after much planning was already done, would be creating a legislative firestorm. I was invited to have a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II of England. The audience was scheduled so that she could deliver a personal thank you in a ceremony entitled “final farewells” to a select group of individuals who had worked on her official visit to Jamestown/Yorktown as part of the events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Virginia Colony at Jamestown. I was petrified. Each of the nine selected participants would be meeting individually for five minutes with the queen. I entered the room, approached the queen stopping five feet in front of her as instructed. I started my bow, and the moment overcame me and instead I curtsied! The queen broke out into a hearty laughter. With both arms raised in astonishment and continuing her laughter she said, “Oh you Americans, wars have been fought over less, why do you even bother!” Embarrassed as I stood back up, she began asking a series of questions, well prepared in advance I am sure, designed to make visitors, such as me, comfortable. And she did. We chatted and she presented me with an autographed picture of Prince Philip and herself and a gold and silver letter opener from Buckingham Palace. Planning the Queen’s Visit Preparations for the queen’s visit had begun many years before. The planning efforts were being made by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a state agency whose board of directors consisted mostly of legislative appointees. There were also specially established 400th Commemoration Committees, both in Virginia and in the United Kingdom, and a federal commission to assist this historic event. The Office of the Governor wasn’t directly involved in this long-range planning. When Mark Warner was inaugurated in January 2002 the event was now five years away.
V irginia C apitol C onnections , W inter 2023
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