The spirit of democracy and peace is something America and Britain must spread together to all the world, Queen Elizabeth II told a joint session of Congress Thursday.

"Some people believe that power grows from the barrel of a gun. So it can, but history shows that it never grows well nor for very long. Force, in the end, is sterile," she said.Dressed in a bright peach-colored dress and hat with gloves, the queen said, "I do thank you for seeing me today." This received a royal laugh and standing ovation from the audience. (Nothing but the queen's purple-and-white hat could be seen above the microphones when the 5-foot-4 monarch delivered her remarks at Tuesday's arrival ceremony.)

Talk of U.S.-British cooperation in the Persian Gulf war prompted the loudest applause.

"Both our countries saw the invasion of Kuwait in just the same terms - an outrage to be reversed," she said.

"I know that the servicemen and women of Britain, and of all the members of the coalition, were proud to act in a just cause alongside their American comrades."

She said even though the future of the world is obscure and full of problems, "if we continue to stick to our fundamental ideas, I have every confidence that we can resolve them.

"You will find us worthy partners, and we are proud to have you as our friends," she said.

The queen also said America's and Britain's friendship stems from their similar political beliefs.

"Your Congress and our Parliament are the twin pillars of our civilizations . . . We, like you, are staunch believers in the freedom of the individual and the rule of a fair and just law," she said.

The queen's speech was the first substantive piece of business on her 10-day agenda. Until now, her days have been filled with parties, a visit to a housing proj-ect and a trip to Baltimore for an Orioles-Athletics baseball game.

"It was very exciting. I got to meet the queen and the president, but I didn't know what to say. We were rushed through," Oakland slugger Jose Canseco told reporters.

"I just shook her hand and said `Your majesty,' " Oriole Manager Frank Robinson said.

After the pregame socializing, the queen stepped out on the field with President Bush and waved to the spectators, drawing a roar of applause. Together with Prince Philip and Barbara Bush, she and the president then went to an upper-deck box enclosed in bulletproof glass and watched the first three innings of the game, won 6-3 by Oakland.

Earlier, the queen saw another side of Washington, far from the glitter of the White House. She visited the home of Alice Frazier, who owns her own dwelling under a program for low- and moderate-income people that is financed by public and private money.

"I told her this was my palace," said the 67-year-old Frazier, pointing to her modest three-bedroom house.

Queen Elizabeth's host startled onlookers by embracing her.

"She didn't say anything," Frazier said in a post-hug interview.

During her tour of the home, the queen confined her comments to such pleasantries as, "Oh really" when told that Frazier had just become a great-grandmother.


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Sorry 'bout that

President Bush is sorry about Queen Elizabeth's disappearing act. "I thought about (pulling out the lectern step) but she started to speak and I didn't realize how it would look" from the front, Bush said. "I'm just sorry it was overlooked. The Washington Post headlined it, "Britain's Hat of State."