Queen Visits Rainy Houston, Space Center

<i> From United Press International</i>

Queen Elizabeth II, greeted in a tent Wednesday outside Houston City Hall, glanced upward and smiled as a choir singing “Home on the Range” reached the line: “and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

It was raining.

The queen later quizzed space experts while her husband, Prince Philip, played astronaut on an afternoon visit to the Johnson Space Center during their third day in Texas.

Hundreds of people turned out to wave flags and cheer for the royal couple as they met Mayor Kathy Whitmire, who earlier Wednesday called the queen “a truly delightful person.”

“Houstonians have been very anxious to give you a warm welcome,” Whitmire said minutes before the rain started. “We hope, if the rain holds off, it will be a dry welcome as well.” Houston at this time of year is usually dry.

The queen, wearing a red print dress, a white hat trimmed in red, pearls and white gloves, was presented with a key to the city before she met briefly with Whitmire in the mayor’s office.


The royal couple then visited a historic church downtown, where they were greeted by gospel singers and some of Houston’s leading black clergymen.

At Johnson Space Center, the couple visited Mission Control after a luncheon with 300 business and community leaders.

The queen asked astronaut Mike Foale, who holds both British and American citizenship, why food does not float off the plate in space. Foale explained that surface tension holds the food in place.

Prince Philip spent several minutes moving objects from one hand to another with spacesuit gloves attached to a vacuum chamber designed to simulate how the gloves work in weightlessness.

The queen later was to give a private dinner for about 100 guests from across Texas at the Museum of Fine Arts, and bestow honorary knighthood on Cecil H. Green, a native of Manchester, England. Green, who lives in Dallas, is a co-founder of Texas Instruments and a donor to Oxford University.