Your Stories of Meeting the Queen

We asked for your brushes with royalty and you told us.

Compiled by Canada’s History

June 11, 2012

The Crowning Moments contest is now over. Congratulations to Mike Post for winning the draw for the Panasonic video camera!

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1. Kim Rogerson

I do not have a story of meeting the Queen, but I do have a story of not meeting her.

When I was 11 years old, the Queen came to Toronto. This was in 1973. I desperately wanted to see her. As my room at Sick Children’s Hospital overlooked University Avenue, I hoped that I could catch a glimpse of her as her motorcade went by. However, I was extremely ill and could not get to the window. I begged my mother to tell me everything she could see of the Queen.

“I see a car… and a pink hat!” my mother exclaimed. We were so high up at Sick Kids’ that my mother could only see the Queen’s hat.

I was so disappointed in not seeing her that when I was well enough, my mother suggested I write to the Queen. So I did. I told her about my strong desire to see her and not being able to get out of bed. Then I invited her to come for lunch the next time she was in Canada.

After I sent the letter I was concerned. I said to my mother, “If the Queen comes for lunch, what will we serve her?” She replied, “Grilled cheese and soup!” For some odd reason I thought the Queen would be happy with this as it is one of my favourites.

I remember receiving a letter in the mail from Buckingham Palace. I was so excited! I have it to this day and it is a treasure that I cherish. I have included a copy of the letter from one of the Queen’s Ladies in Waiting.

2. Patricia Angus

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and his entourage visited the Arctic in August 1954, the first member of the Royal Family to do so.

My late husband, James Angus was the teacher at the school in Coppermine (now Kugluktuk). The school was the largest venue in the community at that time, so it became the locale where the luncheon was served in the Duke's honour.

The HBC provided the fresh food, tablecloths and tableware and the small contingent of local women prepared the feast with the fresh food that they had seldom had the pleasure of eating in that remote community. The guests included the local white people, members of the Inuit community, and a number of visitors who "dropped" by such as journalists, the Commissioner of the RCMP and other dignitaries.

After the Duke visited with the Inuit community, the HBC post, and the rest of the small community, the HBC officials arranged that the Duke and his party would have an opportunity to rest, relax, wash up and have a cocktail (which couldn't be served in the presence of the Inuit at that time) in the teacher's apartment above the school. They also felt that the only people there should be my husband, his wife and small son. As you can well imagine, this was an event of a lifetime as my husband and his wife were a young couple in their twenties at the time.

My husband related this event in his book "Schoolroom, a Personal History of Education," copies of which are available in Kuglugtuk.

I have attached a picture of the Duke, my husband and a group of the school children.

3. Joseph Healy

In the summer of 1973, while posted to Prince Edward Island, I was selected to be the official RCMP driver for Her Majesty Queen Elizabth II and her husband, Prince Philip while they were on Royal Tour in Charlottetown, Summerside, and Mount Carmel. They were participating in the Island's celebration of PEI's entry into Confederation. In the photo, Her Majesty is shaking hands with me and saying thank you for being her driver. The top of Prince Philip's head behind her can also be seen. At the time, I was a Constable with the Charlotte Highway Patrol. The photo was taken by RCMP Staff Sergeant W.R. 'Bill' Haines in front of the Charlottetown Inn where the Royal couple had resided.

4. Lillian Graziadei

Photo taken circa 2001 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Canada; I'm on the left in the beige pants shaking hands with Prince Charles, with then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

5. Mike Post

As a young lad in the late 1950s, newly crowned Queen Elizabeth visited London, Ontario. I proudly trudged down to Dundas St. with my Brownie Target SIX-16 box camera to watch the parade. In all the excitement I forgot to advance the film between shots and thus the enclosed photo resulted. Over 50 years later I still have the photo, and the camera! I like to think that the Queen, were she not the Queen, would have loved to have had this "double exposure" experience.

Years later in the 1980s, I was but three feet away from her car window in a narrow lane in Balmoral at the games and we exchanged smiles and waves but my earliest experience has been my fondest memory of the Queen.

6. David Koyzis

I have had two brushes with our royal family over the decades.

The first occurred 37 years ago, during my first trip to Europe and England. I was in London at St. Paul's Cathedral, the impressive baroque structure built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666. While there I happened to see the late Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, accompanied by the Lord Mayor of London and flanked by two lines of Girl Guides, coming out of the cathedral after the end of a worship service (top right photo). I can no longer recall, if I ever knew, what the occasion was. Incidentally, Princess Alice lived a very long time indeed, as she was born in 1901 and died as recently as 2004, thus breaking the royal record for longevity at 102 years.

My second brush with royalty was with the Queen herself during her visit to Hamilton, Ontario, ten years ago on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. My wife and daughter and I drove down to Dundurn Castle to view her motorcade as it drove down York Boulevard on its way from Toronto to Copps Coliseum, where she was to present two banners to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) at a special ceremony.

As she was running late, her motorcade sped by quickly, much to the disappointment of the well-wishers who had turned out to greet her. Many people decided to leave after that point. However, our persistence was rewarded on her return trip once the ceremony had ended. Her motorcade passed by more slowly this time. The window of her car was open, and we easily saw the woman who had reigned over Canada for 50 years. She offered us her characteristic wave, much to our delight. The three of us were the last people she saw in Hamilton, for right after that we saw her motorcade pull off on the Highway 403 exit towards Toronto. Incidentally, the two banners the Queen delivered to the Argylls now hang in the front of our church, Central Presbyterian, which is the group's regimental church.

7. Barry MacKenzie

I have always been a keen monarchist, and have made efforts (whenever possible) to see members of our Royal Family when they tour Canada. I saw The Prince of Wales in 1996, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 2002, and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. I've only ever managed little more than a glimpse.

However, in May of this year I was honoured to have been invited, with my wife and 5 1/2 month old son, to attend a reception at CFB Gagetown for TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. At the close of the reception, just when it seemed that I would miss my chance again, The Prince caught a view of my son, Henry, whose mother was standing in front of me and holding him.

HRH backed up a few steps and chatted briefly with my wife, asking her if Henry was our only child, followed by another question which neither she nor I can remember! And then, in a move which took us all by surprise, HRH reached out a finger a tickled my son in the belly! Being a happy baby, Henry happily grinned at his future King, at which point HRH quipped, "It's always nice when you get a smile" — in reference, I suppose, to other instances in which other babies were not so keen to have their bellies tickled. Henry will never remember this brush with royalty, but we will tell him the story and show him this somewhat fuzzy photo to prove it!

8. Julie Latimer

In 1951, then-Princess Elizabeth, with Prince Philip, toured Canada and stopped in my hometown, Kapuskasing, to tour the Spruce Falls Power & Paper company mill (newsprint/Kleenex). Although I was not born at that time, I am the Curator of Kap's museum and have created an exhibit of her visit to my town. They arrived on Tuesday, October 16th, 1951, met with the Legion Guard of Honour, with children in The Gore, stayed at the Kapuskasing Inn, toured the mill and attended a reception at the Community Club. It was a real treat for Kap residents. In the attached photo, Princess Elizabeth walks with Kapuskasing Mayor Alex Stevenson.

9. Carol Koeslag

On June 10, 2008, Prince Andrew visited Peterborough as he rather frequently does, and in particular his former Head Master Terry Guest of Lakefield College School. Terry is one of fifteen volunteers, as is my husband, at Pioneer Hope Mill on the Indian River and is about 10 miles south east of Peterborough. Hope Mill has been completely renovated by these group of volunteers from derelict to fully functioning water-powered saw mill. When they were notified that Prince Andrew wished to visit the mill the wives of the volunteers were invited to attend at his visit and subsequent tea party. I had taken our wire-haired terrier, Dexter, with me and planned to put him in the car shortly before the Prince arrived, but suddenly there was Andrew. I picked up Dexter so his leash wouldn't be trailing and in the way. The wives had been told that Andrew would only be shaking hands with the volunteers, not wives, which was okay, but Andrew stepped through the line of volunteers and began greeting the wives. The enclosed photo tells the rest! Needless to say both Dexter and I felt royally acknowledged!

10. Linda Schien

One morning in July 1988 while listening to the radio I heard that Princess Margaret would be visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario that day. Living just about a fifteen minute drive from the gardens I decided to see if visiting there would give me a chance to see the Princess. As luck would have it, I was able to get close enough to her to take these pictures with just a simple 35 mm camera. It was quite a thrill to see a member of the Royal family in person. I thought it was quite appropriate that she wore a floral printed dress for the occasion. Once she got on the cart and was whisked away I lost sight of her. These pictures have been in a photo album for twenty-four years and I never thought I would get a chance to share them. Thank you for the opportunity; I live in Tennesee now, but I'm still Canadian at heart.

11. Ewart (Ed) Picton

Even though I have never been in actual contact with royalty I am sending along some photos that I took while in high school or just after I had graduated, that would be in the late forties or early fifties. The photos of the Queen Mother were taken as she approached the main entrance to the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

I am also sending a long a photo of the camera which was used to take the photos. The camera is a Kodak folding Kilto made in 1910, it was originally used for glass plate photography but I had it converted to take roll film.

The interesting thing about these photos is that there is little need for a great deal of security, it's unfortunate that people today have to be guarded to such a degree that the average onlooker cannot even get a decent photo.

12. Fiona Cairns

My Dad, Major Archie Cairns, MMM, CD, served 52 consecutive years in the Canadian Forces, and has led a very rich, eventful life. He has proudly served this country and has done many wonderful things. While he has had many meetings with Royalty, I have put together a compilation of photos and details of seven meetings my Dad has had over the past 60 years. It is an honour to have such a wonderful Dad, and I hope you enjoy seeing some of the things he has done.

Editor's note: The events where Archie played pipes but are not depicted in the photo gallery are: June 1953, London, England, at Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Ball; October 1964, the State Dinner celebrating the centenary of the Confederation Conference, in Charlottetown, PEI; and April 1975, Government House in Ottawa, a gala ball was thrown by the Governor General and Madam Jules Leger for Prince Charles. Archie showed HRH the 1951 Birkhall photo in which they both posed.

Editor's note: The events where Archie played pipes but are not depicted in the photo gallery are: June 1953, London, England, at Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Ball; October 1964, the State Dinner celebrating the centenary of the Confederation Conference, in Charlottetown, PEI; and April 1975, Government House in Ottawa, a gala ball was thrown by the Governor General and Madam Jules Leger for Prince Charles. Archie showed HRH the 1951 Birkhall photo in which they both posed.

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