Queen Addresses U.N. for First Time in 50-Plus Years

"Leave It to Beaver" had just premiered when Elizabeth last addressed the group.

July 5, 2010, 3:54 PM

July 6, 2010— -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to visit New York City today to address the United Nations for the first time in more than half a century.

The royal was 31 the last time she stood before the assembled world representatives in 1957, when "Leave It to Beaver" had recently premiered on TV and the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik.

She expressed optimism for the fledgling U.N., which at the time was barely a decade old.

"I offer you my best wishes in your tasks and pray that you may be successful," she said then.

The queen, who has reigned for 58 years, is expected to appeal to the world's leaders for global unity and peace.

"She's going to reflect on how the world has changed and she's going to offer her thoughts on leadership," royal historian Robert Lacey said.

From there, the queen, 84, is expected to make her first visit to ground zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Her trip is expected to end in downtown Manhattan at a garden memorial to British subjects who died on 9/11. About 50 families of victims will meet the queen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"The fact that she's fitted this into her very busy schedule I think is amazing," said Alex Clark, the mother of a 9/11 victim.

Before her relatively short New York City trip, the queen spent nine days in Canada. Her half-day trip to New York City is short by design, according to royal watchers.

"They are very cost conscious," Majesty magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward said. "She's not overnighting in New York. The queen is 84-years-old. She's had an exhausting nine-day trip. She'd rather be home than stay on in New York."

Royals Take to Cost Cutting

Taking such a short trip is hardly the only way the royal family is cutting back expenses this year.

Queen Elizabeth has decreased her spending by $4 million in the past year, according to a new report released by the palace. The British government gave $57.8 million in taxpayer dollars this year to support the royal family. The monarchy costs each British citizen 94 cents.

Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse, said Monday that the queen and other royals are cutting costs and postponing essential maintenance on the palace, because they are "acutely aware of the difficult economic climate."

The royal family also sold the queen's helicopter, freeing up more money.

The Royal Train, which costs more than $75,000 every time it is used, is now only used by the queen and the duke of Edinburgh, and Prince Charles and his wife, the duchess of Cornwall.

The palace's budget has been slashed in other places, too. The queen's furnishing budget went from $607,080 to $455,310.

The budget for staff uniforms has been cut from $303,540 to $151,770. Even the amount the queen spends on computers has been cut from $607,080 to $303,540.

Most cash-strapped homeowners can only dream of the $22 million budget the queen is given to run her households. Still, royal watchers said, the belt-tightening is significant.

"You don't really realize that the queen is going around Buckingham Palace turning off the lights, having fewer staff and in the winter turning the heating down," Seward said Monday. "She sometimes even writes letters in her very old fur coat."

Royal Flourishes

Those letters are written on stationery that cost $455,310 this year. The queen can't resist some other royal flourishes. She shelled out $151,770 this year for carriage processions and about $1 million on garden parties.

To help pay for all that, the queen pulled $9 million out of her reserve fund. Experts said that if she continues to do that, she'll be broke by 2012, the year she should be celebrating her 60th year on the throne.

There may be no money left to throw a party fit for a queen.

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