The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

My Queen, Remembered

 

September 28, 2022



I was born and raised in Canada, so I have always called Queen Elizabeth the second my queen. I was raised in a family who loved the monarchy. My mother kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings regarding the Queen, especially when she was in Canada and Saskatchewan. When I return to Canada on my next trip, I shall dig them out and pore over them.

As everyone knows, the Queen died on September 8. Surprisingly, the US TV stations have broadcast everything revolving around the funeral and, of course, the remaining family. There are some things you might not know. I will also add some personal thoughts and experiences concerning the Queen.

Elizabeth was not meant to be queen. Her father was preceded in line for the throne by his brother Edward the 8th. Edward became involved with an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Under the laws of Britain, he could not marry her and be King. Edward decided to abdicate his throne, which put Elizabeth’s father, Prince Albert (who became George the 6th), on the throne as king. Elizabeth, Albert’s eldest, became next in line for the throne. Her father did not want the position at all. He hated public speaking as he stuttered, but like his daughter, duty was of the utmost importance, so he soldiered on. Elizabeth was very fond of him and was devastated when he died while she was in Africa. Elizabeth came home at the age of 25 in 1952 and became Queen. One can only begin to guess what turmoil must have been in her mind and heart. At this time, she pledged to Britain and the Commonwealth, “my whole life, should it long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong.” Thankfully, her life was long, and she fulfilled this pledge in the most grace-filled, intelligent manner possible. As condolences flow from around the world, she has become an icon for 70 years. Someone who kept duty at the head of her life.Someone who showed compassion and understanding. She was instrumental in many political situations. She could not be political but what she brought was an ability to heal wounds and bring people together. She brought England and the country of Germany together after world war 2, no small feat indeed.

During the second world war, it was suggested she and her sister Margaret should be sent to Canada out of harm’s way. Her mother stated that the girls were not leaving England without her, she would not leave her husband, and her husband would not leave Britain. Rather than wait out the war in safer isolation, Elizabeth became a truck driver and mechanic. She was in those roles till the end of the war.

As a child in school, we always began the day by singing God Save the Queen. There was a portrait of her in the front of the school room, and we looked at that as we sang. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, traveled to Saskatchewan several times. I remember her trip in 1959, lining up along the street to wave and feeling thrilled to see her in person. She always wore bright colors so people could easily spot her. When in Regina, she stayed at the Hotel Saskatchewan. This is a beautiful hotel built in 1927. A whole suite was made for her, known as the Royal suite. My oldest son was a manager at this hotel at one point, and I got a tour of the royal suite, complete with a huge dining table and bulletproof glass. It blended modernity with the character of the building, which is beautifully aged. You can google your tour of the Hotel Saskatchewan to see where she stayed.

In 1973 she came to Regina to mark the RCMP’s centennial. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). The RCMP are known for their amazing black horses. As a mark of their friendship, they gave Queen Elizabeth a horse named Burmese. The Queen was always a huge lover of horses, so they very happily accepted Burmese. When the Queen did the Trooping of the Color, she rode Burmese. Burmese was raised at Fort Walsh in Saskatchewan, where RCMP horses are bred and raised, and she was later trained in Ottawa. The Queen rode her from 1969 till 1986 when Burmese was retired. The Queen decided after that to ride in a horse-drawn carriage for the Trooping of the Color. The Trooping of the Color is the official birthday of the British sovereign. For over 260 years, 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians come together each June. It’s a marvelous display of horsemanship and military precision. In short, it’s to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. In 1981 the Queen was shot while riding in this parade. Thankfully, Burmese kept her composure, and the Queen was able to continue on. Remember, while riding in a parade, the Queen rode side saddle. The man responsible was arrested, and the Queen was forever grateful to her black horse.

The Queen loved horses!! She bred and raced horses. She constantly rode, only stopping this last year. She loved dogs and had over 30 Corgis over the years. Those who worked in the palaces have told of the queen arriving with a flurry of dogs around her. The head chef prepared their meals. Fresh rabbit and beef were enjoyed. At Christmas, the Queen made them stockings filled with treats like toys and biscuits. They slept in what was called The Corgi room in elevated wicker baskets. Her first dog was given to her on her 18th birthday, and the pup was named Susan. Susan was so important the Queen took her on her honeymoon in 1947. Her husband, Prince Philip, apparently complained they were too yappy, but this did not stop her. She continued to have corgis for the rest of her life. With her passing, her remaining four dogs will be cared for by her son, Prince Andrew.

The Queen remained a steadfast Christian throughout her life and was not afraid to mention God’s importance in her life. Every Christmas morning, she gave the Christmas message to the people of Britain and the Commonwealth. My family and I listened every Christmas morning and eventually watched it on TV. We would call relatives in Edmonton after and discuss what was said. It was as if she were a family member. Christmas morning was not complete without hearing her message. Now, King Charles, the 3rd, will give the Christmas message. She would address issues in the past year but leave with hope for the year to come. Christmas 2021, she referred to the fact they were missing Prince Philip, and she acknowledged how Christmas could be hard when you were missing a family member, but she knew he would want them to enjoy Christmas, so that they would try.

Naturally, one could go on for ages commenting on her 70 years on the throne. Each person will choose their favorite story about the Queen and her life. Being me, I bonded with her over her sense of duty and her love of horses and dogs! My queen. Indeed!!!!

 
 

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