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6,000 TURN OUT AS VICTORIA HAILS ITS QUEEN

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The 3,000 athletes don't start competing in the Commonwealth Games for another two days. But already, the record for stamina has fallen.

Amy Adams of Victoria set it Monday as she waited with all the stiff upper lip she could muster to see Queen Elizabeth II stroll toward her and stop for a chat on the grounds of the British Columbia Parliament. Neither age - Adams is 87; nor brittle bones - she broke a rib two days ago - kept her from sitting in the warm sunshine for almost seven hours to see her sovereign."I'd have stayed all night if necessary," Adams said as she leaned on her cane and rose from a lawn chair. "I think she's going to have a nice few days with us."

The first day of the royal visit, which will last through Saturday, was a day fit for monarchists in a city whose motto seems to be that there will always be an England in Victoria. And why not? The queen and Prince Philip arrived here almost on schedule Monday afternoon to a crowd of 6,000 people outside Parliament. The skies, as if under royal edict, were cloudless. On cue, a military band broke into "God Save the Queen" and cannon replied with a 21-shot salute as the queen appeared.

Her official duties were few and lasted less than an hour. Then the royal couple boarded a float plane bound for a private retreat, where they were resting Tuesday. The Canadian press has widely reported that they will be at a luxury island lodge near Powell River.

Thursday, the queen will open the Commonwealth Games, a 10-day athletic competition for the nations that once made up the British empire.

Monday, there were perfunctory remarks by B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt, and the queen greeted two Vancouver veterans who won the Victoria Cross - Britain's highest military honor - in World War II. She and Prince Philip also worked the crowd. Royal watchers call it a "walkabout."

Child after child - some of them pulled up over barricades by plainclothes Mounties - presented the queen with flowers.

Five-year-old David Illi of Victoria had only a few mums his mother grabbed from the garden as they left home Monday. But they, too, became a bouquet fit for a queen.

"I'm so excited," said Darlene Illi, David's mother. "I got to see her when I was little and I wanted him to as well."

The only whiff of politics came from a handful of well-mannered protesters, who held signs condemning the clear-cutting of British Columbia's ancient forests.

Amy Adams had no regrets on this day, when for a loyal few, the sun hadn't set on the empire after all. The reason, Adams said, was obvious.

"She's our queen."