On 8 May, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Lord Watson of Richmond on the Thames were joined by Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William Howell in planting a London Plane tree (Platanus acerifolia) behind the historic Virginia State Capitol.
One week later, Lord Watson assisted Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in planting a holly tree in Richmond, England.
Both events were part of the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, which honors the Queen's 60th anniversary of ascending to the British throne, and the tree planting in Virginia is to date the only officially recognised Diamond Jubilee event in the United States.
The United States and Great Britain share more than place names and a common language - we share what is often referred to as a 'special relationship'. Despite the fact that our national identity began with both British and American blood being shed during the American Revolution - and 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of another armed conflict between our two countries - we spent all of the 20th century as allies, using direct military power to defend freedom in World War I and II and the Cold War.
The basis of our partnership is not, however, founded on hard power - it is due to shared political values, including belief in the rule of law, representative government, private enterprise and entrepreneurialism and respect for diversity. These democratic institutions first took root with the English settlement at Jamestown in 1607, flowered in America during the colonial period and have sprouted across the globe in the 400 years since.
For the 21st century, we will need to readjust and work together to lead via soft power. Fortunately for supporters of liberty, Queen Elizabeth's example over the past 60 years sets the standard on how to promote these special values without the threat of military force. With little direct power herself, her personal example of integrity, duty, persuasion and diplomacy, not to mention her many statements supporting the tenets of freedom, should motivate Americans to pause and appreciate her life-long and constant support of the 'special relationship.'
H. Edward Mann is the co-author with Lord Alan Watson of Richmond CBE of the new book The Queen and the U.S.A., which explores several key dynamics of democracy and commemorates the Queen's travels to the United State to celebrate these democratic values.