Farewell to the Queen

The 22nd Royal Tour of Canada ends


The last day of the 22nd Royal Tour of Canada began with a warning by a security official to journalists huddled outside of Queen’s Park in Toronto for the farewell ceremony: dare to move beyond the sanctioned area once Her Majesty arrives and, “you’ll be arrested.”

A sudden jerk or a surge forward, the officer explained yesterday, could cause someone to startle or fall—read: Queen Elizabeth II or the Duke of Edinburgh (they are, after all, 84 and 89, respectively). The group was told this would be “embarrassing” for everyone.

No calamity occurred, save for scrapes sustained by a few people (stealthy members of the public squished in with media?) snapping photos. “How are your legs on that tree?” one asked another knee-deep in a bush. “A little prickly, eh,” came the reply.

Instead, as the nine-day tour came to an end, the Queen and Prince Philip made an elegant entrance; the shiny black car in which they were chauffeured featured a red rear license plate boasting a gold crown emblem.

Her Majesty emerged in a bright pink and green floral dress and matching millinery. A woman yelped something along the lines of “She looks beautiful,” at which point the Queen looked over, in appreciation or not, it’s unclear. The Duke was dapper in a dark suit and tie—royal blue, of course.

They scaled the red-carpeted stone stairs leading inside the provincial building, and were greeted by Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Queen and Duke were then passed onto Premier Dalton McGuinty for the presentation of the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship to four recipients.

A quartet (three violins, one cello) played “God Save the Queen” and “O Canada.” During his remarks, McGuinty, who had accompanied Her Highness on a few excursions, quipped, “I can’t believe the size of the crowds I’ve been drawing.” The royal pair smiled politely.

Next, the Queen and Duke stepped outside to rededicate a plaque commemorating the 150th anniversary of Queen’s Park, which was officially opened by the Prince of Wales. Her Majesty tugged on a white rope, and a blue velvet cloak slipped off. She and the Duke gestured to the plaque discretely, while thousands of onlookers clapped and cheered.

The crowd’s enthusiasm beckoned the royal couple to begin their walk about, meandering along a paved path and chatting intermittently with spectators who were variously primped—fancy chapeaus mingled with chintzy red-and-white cloth top hats. Someone was inexplicably dressed up as a grizzly and waving a “God save the bears” sign.

Eventually, the royal pair made their way to acknowledge giddy dignitaries, including Toronto mayor David Miller and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Governor General Michaëlle Jean, wearing bubble-gum pink, matched the Queen (they must have coordinated; both wore pale yellow in Halifax on Day 1).

The Queen moved to the lawn to inspect soldiers from five Ontario regiments that she and the Duke command. Despite the heat—around 32 degrees—these soldiers, decked out in boots, heavy green garb and gloves, exhibited stoic reverence. One however, seeming to have nearly fainted, had to be hauled off for water and shade.

The farewell reached its climax when the 21-gun salute accompanied the military band like a thunderous metronome. The crowd whooped as the Queen and Duke walked towards a convoy that took them to Pearson airport. They got in, and drove off, and almost simultaneously, the onlookers dispersed.

As Royal watchers abandoned Queen’s Park, another crowd was assembling downtown—this time for the Shriner’s parade, which was happening in the afternoon.

One spectacle ends and another begins.

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Farewell to the Queen

  1. It's "Her Majesty" NOT "Her Royal Highness". The Duke is HRH, but the Queen is "Her Majesty". Why can't "journalists" get the basic right?

    • Thank you, I'm so glad you said that. The "Royal Highness" thing bugs me too. Only thing worse is, the "Royal Majesty" thing.

  2. My Irritable Colonial Cousin:

    I think they do this to show that they're being clever. The tone of the story in some ways is quite good, but there is an underlying attempt at mockery about it.

    Good to see that thousands apparently were there.

    The Queen is always professional. No matter the circumstances, or the heat (as in New York), she fronts up, does her job, and gets on with it.

    If you want to read a contrasting story, try The New York Times on her visit to New York. It treats her with respect. I think they might not have the 'colonial cringe' that you get among journalists, some politicians in her New Zealand, Australian, and Canadian realms.

  3. It is amazing to watch the country that burst into moral indignation not too long ago over the affront to its democracy that was its duly elected representatives proposing a governing coalition requiring a majority of parliamentary support, suddenly trip over itself bowing, curtsying, and prostrating in fawning adoration of an hereditary monarch, whose only qualifications are that she was her father's daughter and that she had no brothers. It's enough to make one write a run-on-sentence!

    These are the times that try men's patiences. When the doting masses, steeped in servility and superstition, empty their hearts and wallets on a despot housewife renowned for hosting elaborate tea parties and wearing silly hats — traits, by the way, which would make her a perfect candidate for brunch with the March Hare.

    It requires a through the looking-glass logic to accept the legitimacy of a ruler who obtains Royal Prerogative like a family heir-loom.

    To those of you worshiping, wide-eyed votaries, thankful to declare yourselves loyal subjects (cringe!), I say,

    Off with your Head of State!

    • All right, that does it, we need to abolish the monarchy, for we shall not suffer gladly these run-on sentences.

      And, actually, but for a missing comma, your sentence seems fine.

      • That said, there were, maybe, 2000 people there. And that's counting the guys in kilts and the security. Most were curious onlookers from the 6 civil service buildings right across the street. "Doting masses?" I watched this all happen, from just across the road. No masses, little doting.

        • I agree with you. Support for / interest in the monarchy is really not that high. This is good. But even look at the comments around us, where people express their anger that the Queen is called "Her Royal Highness" instead of "Her Majesty", and you observe that there are more people than there should be who take this stuff seriously. The monarchy should appeal to no more than a handful of anachronistic, eccentric lunatics who spend their weekends reenacting the War of 1812.

  4. Hello, Justin:

    My …

    I don't cringe, colonially or otherwise. Never have. I have evolved over 40 years from rampant and noisy anti-royalty to being a supporter.

    For me, in my country, I really appreciate that my head of state is on the other side of the world, unelectable (her father's daughter), has unwritten and reserve constitutional powers, and is someone removed from politics.

    Yes, it's all symbolic. To work, it requires civility and consent, which I think is far better than political power coming out of the muzzle of an AK47.

    I was in Canada 25 years ago. I was struck then by what seemed to be a genuine and affectionate loyalty towards the Crown, particularly among immigrants I met — Portuguese, Spaniards, Russians, Ukrainians, from Latin America.

    In Toronto the Queen Mother's charm and stamina had converted an Argentinian business owner I met. Three years earlier, he said, a cousin had been fighting the Queen Mum's grandson Andrew in the Falklands.

    The only thing I found Canadians 'cringed' about was the perception that they might be thought bad-mannered.

  5. I always thought it would be nice if Her Majesty spent a few extended periods of time in Canada, say six months or so, between the terms of Governors-General. No GG would be necessary during that time, and the Queen could visit the various parts of her northern realm at a slightly less frenetic pace than during these short royal tours. Her Majesty could meet foreign dignitaries at Rideau Hall, and could open any new sessions of the federal and provincial parliaments. Here's hoping that future governments continue to be as monarchist as HM's current first minister.

  6. Good riddance.