“She said it rains here and it rains where she lives too,” Mayor Kathy Whitmire said after she sat with the queen and Prince Philip under a white awning outside City Hall as a parade of performers streamed by.Prince Philip chuckled as the Houston Community Choir sang Home on the Range, particularly when the singers reached the line where the skies are not cloudy all day in the midst of a downpour.
At Houston’s Antioch Baptist Church, a 125-year-old downtown church, the royal couple appeared at first unprepared for the loud, lively singing by two gospel choirs. But after about 20 minutes, the queen began tapping her toes to the rhythms of the energetic performance.
It was nice, the queen said of the uniquely American music.
At Johnson Space Center, the queen and prince viewed exhibits of space suits, space food and robots, received a plaque from center officials and toured Mission Control, where U.S. spaceflights are commanded.
The Houston visit, scheduled to end with a private dinner at the Museum of Fine Arts, capped a nine-day U.S. visit that began in Washington and included stops in Florida and Texas.
After the dinner, the queen was to bestow an honorary knighthood on Dallas resident Cecil H. Green in a private ceremony. Green, a British-born U.S. citizen, is an international philanthropist who endowed the Green College at Oxford University. He also is the co-founder of Texas Instruments, Inc.
The queen, 65, was heading Thursday for a private weekend stay in Lexington, Ky., while Prince Philip was heading home.
The original schedule called for the royal visit to coincide with a space shuttle flight, but the mission that was to begin Wednesday was delayed by equipment problems.
The royal couple toured the new Veterans Affairs Medical Center and chatted with a Desert Storm veteran and World War II veteran.
“She’s more attractive than I thought,” said 22-year-old Army Spec. Delman Orme, recovering from a head injury suffered in Kuwait. “I thought the Majesty was very pretty for her age.”While the queen met briefly with Orme at the veterans hospital, Prince Philip traded Navy stories with Edd Athon, a Navy Air Corps tailgunner in World War II.
At the parade, Houstonians lined parking multi-decked parking garages and peered down from glassed-in skywalks to get a glimpse of the monarch.
“I was in London the day she was crowned,” said Ruth Weber of Houston who stood in the rain for more than an hour to get about a 20-second glimpse of the royal couple. “It was worth it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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