Shuswap residents are among those world over sharing their memories and thoughts of Queen Elizabeth II.
It was announced Thursday, Sept. 8 that Britain’s longest reigning monarch had passed away at age 96. Buckingham Palace said she died at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland, where members of the royal family had rushed to her side after her health took a turn for the worse.
The news prompted an outpouring of condolences and tributes, as well as a sharing of personal stories involving the Queen.
Former Salmon Arm Observer publisher Ian Wickett remembered the challenge he had capturing a photo of the Queen during her visit to Vernon in March 1983.
“If my memory is correct, and from the tour dates, the Queen visited Vernon on a day between March 8 and 11, 1983,” said Wickett. “The crowd was so big that I couldn’t get a picture. I put (daughter) Claire, age nine, on my shoulders and she took a picture that we ran.”
Salmon Arm resident Lawrence Levely said he’s been following the royal family since he was born, and had an opportunity to see the Queen in person when he lived and worked in Dundee, Scotland.
“I was in Dundee working for the grounds crew when they wanted to fix up the entrance way to a factory Queen Elizabeth was going to open, cut the ribbon, etcetera,” said Levely. “So we did this, we fixed all this up and made it look nice with flowers and things. She came and we got to stand right there, and she walked by, like four feet away. What was kind of funny about it, afterwards, that was all done to make it look good and then when she was gone we were told to rip it all up because it was a factory, and we just made it look pretty for the Queen.”
Levely said he admired Elizabeth for who she was as a person.
“There’s the odd person who doesn’t seem to admire her just simply because, and I’ve always found those individuals really don’t know anything about her as a human being, as a person,” said Levely. “She’s super admired not as a queen, but as a human being. Very high intellect, a great sense of humour and very gracious to all.”
Hearing the news of her death, Levely said he was upset because “you cannot replace Queen Elizabeth. She was one of a kind.”
“At the same time, Queen Elizabeth was 96 years, and when you reach 96, you’ve done things up proud. It really doesn’t get any better than that,” said Levely.
Resident Mary Pakka also spoke with pride of the late monarch.
“I think Queen Elizabeth was the longest reigning queen we’ve ever had and that will ever be, and I think she did a really good job and I think we’re all going to miss her very much. And good luck to Charles III,” said Pakka.
Flags were at half mast Thursday at Salmon Arm city hall.
“Queen Elizabeth II was our queen. We grew up with her,” said Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison. “Her legacy is in how she treated others: always with such dignity, kindness, empathy and strength. Many Salmon Arm residents and their families felt connection with Queen Elizabeth. A 70-year reign of public leadership – absolutely incredible!”
North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold also shared his respect and admiration for the Queen, noting that although she wasn’t expected to ascend the throne at the time of her birth, “Her Majesty wore the crown with dignity, humility, and deep devotion to her responsibilities as Queen.”
“From her military service before her ascension to the throne at age 25, Her Majesty embodied a lifetime of dedication and sacrifice in public service and leadership in the face of great challenges and shifting global currents,” said Arnold in a written statement.
“For over 70 years, Canada benefited from the friendship and support of Her Majesty as she supported our independence and was present for pivotal moments in our national evolution,” said Arnold.
“In 1982, Her Majesty personally signed her royal assent of Canada’s Constitution Act and granted Canada the ability to amend our constitution with full autonomy and entrenched the Charter of Rights and Freedoms firmly into Canadian law. This historic moment marked the beginning of a new era for Canada as a fully self-governing nation, while maintaining strong ties to history from which Canada has grown.
“I am grateful for Her Majesty’s exemplary public service and my thoughts are with Her Majesty’s family today as they navigate their great loss.”
With files from Canadian Press.
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