Long live the King

Since Thursday morning, our television set has been recording every CTV, CBC hour televising the death and funeral pageantry of Queen Elizabeth II. I am not the royalist that my wife is, but I have found it fascinating learning about the bits of history and the protocols leading up the funeral for Her Majesty.

My wife’s recollection of the Queen goes back to 1959 when her family was heading to Tobermory aboard a great lakes ship that was in the Thunder Bay harbour with the ship Britannia that the Queen and Price Philip sailed on for the Grand Opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I remember listening to Bill and Kate Noden (Bill was the MPP for the Rainy River District) tell of their meeting with the Queen and attending the luncheon in the Royal Edward Hotel in Thunder Bay. I don’t remember many of the details that were passed on but do remember their excitement and the delight they shared from that meeting.

My wife and her mother have followed all the twists and turns of the Royal Family through the years and when the radio announced Thursday morning that the family was being summoned to Balmoral castle, their focus was immediately on the family. Over the past few days, so many have shared their memories of the Queen. I can remember learning the words to “God Save the Queen” in grade one, a song that was sung every morning through elementary school. Years later at the swearing in ceremony as a Fort Frances councillor, I swore allegiance to Her Majesty. Cathy Alex, a young woman in 1982, was on Parliament Hill when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visited Ottawa on the occasion of the repatriation of the Constitution. She captured the moments with her camera and shared those pictures over the weekend on Facebook. Marnie was honoured to lead a group of Girl Guides in meeting the Queen at the provincial Legislature in 2010, the hundredth anniversary of guiding. She practised her curtsy for several weeks in preparation of the occasion.

Over the years millions have watched the weddings of Charles and Diana, Kate and William, Megan and Harry and the 70th Anniversary celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s ascension. We watched the painful walk of Diana’s two sons William and Harry as they followed the casket of their mother in 1997. It was similar to the walk we witnessed in the passing of Prince Philip and the slow march of the mourners along the “Royal Mile” with King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and his brother Prince Edward Monday morning following their mother’s casket to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The Royal family lives in a fishbowl and every part of their lives is on display. Plans for the funeral of the Monarch and the requisite pageantry, I have read, began decades ago, and was earmarked “London Bridge is Falling Down.” In the depths of personal grief, the family must follow the protocols that are expected without shows of emotion. The walk of the four children along the Royal Mile, each locked in step with the other looking straight forward demonstrated their commitment to the expectations of their royal positions. Each day through to September 19 will bring new revelations.

Already in Canada, changes have begun. The members of the legislatures are now swearing allegiance to the King as are members of the military, police officers, lawyers, and judges. Even the protocols of the courts have changed from the Queen’s Bench to the King’s Bench. Pictures of the Queen will be removed from government offices across Canada and will be replaced by a photograph of King Charles III. We live in a new era, but the impact of the seventy year reign of Queen Elizabeth II will be felt for years.

Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times