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Nov 01, 2013
California Here She Comes: 30 Years Ago the Queen Ushered In the Original Decade of Excess - Los Angeles Confidential
30 years ago the, British Royal Yacht, Britannia, edged up to San Diego’s Embarcadero to commence Queen Elizabeth’s nine day state visit to the West Coast--a thank you to first-term President and perennial Californian Ronald Reagan who the previous year had helped the British reclaim the Falkland Islands. The Golden State welcomed Her Royal Highness in true British style by drenching her almost continuously for the entire trip in one of the worst El Nino tantrums ever. The streets of LA were as soggy as the jokes in 20th Century Fox Studio’s Soundstage 9 for the royal dinner where Ed McMahon MC’d Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra, George Burns and Perry Como-an improvised "Rat Pack" that even 30 years ago seemed dated. “You obviously do not adore me,” Sinatra sang to the Queen who didn’t so much as flinch to deny it. The squall prevented the Britannia from sailing to Santa Barbara so the Queen flew in and boarded an SUV to skid up the slick slopes of the Santa Ynez mountains ostensibly for a horse ride at Reagan’s ranch.

Instead, she was relegated inside the modest bungalow to be warmed by a fire stoked by the President as two rider-less horses shivered in the mud outside.  But despite the unpromising weather something truly revolutionary was being heralded. Spurred on by Reaganomics a nascent generation of California whiz kids were bringing the formerly industry-only terms “venture capitalists” and “investment banker” into the mainstream (soon every parent would end up wanting their kid to be one!). These golden boys & girls were about to bankroll the biggest high tech revolution since the launch of the automobile though few at the Reagan compound probably suspected just how big this computer thing would be.  Even as the Queen was gazing into Reagan’s fireplace a group of newly-minted grads from Berkeley and Stanford were tinkering on a new gizmo that even non-geeks could use --the Macintosh would launch the following year as the vanguard to the global home computer invasion.

The state visit was dubbed “The Scuba Tour” by one British wag, but by the time the Britannia departed these shores under the twin suns of what after all were the universe’s two most seasoned media pros—California had became inflamed with royal fever; Queen Elizabeth had met her King Ronnie, and they even ate refried beans together!  From the rear view mirror of history the State Visit was indeed a coronation; the dawn of California’s most opulent era had been ushered in with a wet royal benediction.
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