Queen Elizabeth addresses U.N. for first time since 1957

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When Queen Elizabeth II first visited New York City, in 1957, the glamorous young monarch was welcomed with a ticker-tape parade befitting war heroes or World Series champs. On Tuesday, as the 84-year-old royal addressed the U.N. General Assembly for the first time since then, there was hardly a well-wisher to be found outside U.N. headquarters.

The low-key welcome was largely by design, reflective of the rest of the queen's somber New York agenda: a visit to Ground Zero, and to a memorial garden honoring the 67 British victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. But the quiet reception also pointed to a monarchy whose popular appeal has perhaps crested.

"I suppose the British monarchy was a bigger deal in 1957 than now," said Sir Brian Urquhart, a former high-ranking U.N. official from Britain who met the queen during her visit five decades ago....

The queen spoke as the titular head of state of 16 countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and the nominal representative of 54 governments in the British Commonwealth. But in reality, she holds virtually no political authority and played no significant role in the United Nations' history, according to Stephen Schlesinger, a historian who wrote a book on the founding of the United Nations.

Still, Schlesinger said he was "a little surprised it's taken this long to come back to the United Nations, considering she does come to this country with some frequency, at least to go to a horse race" -- a reference to the queen's visits to the Kentucky Derby....

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