Buckingham Palace officials say Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alastair Grant

Buckingham Palace officials say Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alastair Grant

Flags drop, bells toll as Canadians remember special relationship with Prince Philip

‘He was often portrayed as a brisk or brusque, rough character… but it’s that other side of him, the caring individual who spent time with people and asked questions and showed compassion’

Organizing a royal tour is a demanding task to begin with, but when it involved Prince Philip, his Canadian coordinators knew to expect the unexpected.

Philip might eschew a motorcade and insist on walking. He would request local maps that he would scan in the car or aircraft en route to his next event. He wanted young people up front at meet-and-greet walkabouts with the public.

But Kevin MacLeod, former Canadian secretary to the Queen, said that paled in comparison to an unusually massive request in June 1997, when the prince suddenly insisted on breaking from a tour of Ontario to visit flood-ravaged Manitoba, which was engulfed in what became known as the flood of the century.

MacLeod, at the time a program officer on the royal tour, said Philip displayed a deep concern for residents of Ste. Agathe, Man., and the surrounding area and insisted on touring the flood zone the next day.

MacLeod said that sparked a 24-hour frenzy of arranging logistics, security, medical plans and helicopters.

“He didn’t have to do that. He could have stayed in Ontario and done what we had originally planned for him but he said, ‘No, these people need support.’ And off he went. He was a very genuine, caring person,” said MacLeod, whose voice broke with emotion as he detailed Philip’s “genuine affection for Canada and Canadians.”

“It was a massive undertaking, but he was so pleased to have had that opportunity to get to Manitoba and to speak to the people. I think if you were to speak to some of those people in Ste. Agathe and other people along the flood zone, I’m sure they still fondly remember his visit.”

MacLeod was among the many dignitaries and average citizens who paid tribute to Prince Philip on Friday as flags across the country dropped to half-mast to mark the royal’s death at the age of 99.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted the Duke of Edinburgh for maintaining “a special relationship” with Canada’s Armed Forces, noting he was colonel‑in‑chief of six Canadian units, honorary general of the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, and honorary admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy.

At the same time, he said Philip inspired millions of youth through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and supported more than 40 organizations including the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and the Outward Bound Trust.

“I had the privilege of knowing Prince Philip almost my entire life. The first times I met him I was just a kid here in Ottawa,” Trudeau said Friday.

“Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to have a few more conversations with him, and it is a tremendous personal as well as public sorrow that we all share at his passing.”

The bells of the Peace Tower in Ottawa rang 99 times on Friday morning, while flags were dropped to half-mast at all government buildings in the country and abroad. They were set to remain lowered until sunset on the day of the funeral or the memorial service, which had yet to be determined.

Private tributes included a half-masted flag in the front yard of Barry MacKenzie’s home in Antigonish, N.S. He called it his “personal tribute to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

“Canadians, Britons, people all across the Commonwealth, we’re not people that dress in black mourning clothes anymore when these types of things happen,” said MacKenzie, head of the Maritime chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada.

“But there are still traditions that we can observe that offer that sign of respect and I thought that lowering the national flag was the one thing that I could do this morning.”

Former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps recalled being seated beside a jovial Philip at a luncheon in Vancouver in October 2002, the day The Queen dropped a ceremonial puck at a Vancouver Canucks game.

She said that visit was key to cementing Vancouver and Whistler’s bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, recalling Philip’s assurance that Canada’s bid had the support of the Royal Family.

Copps noted there has been renewed debate over the value of the monarchy but points to this day as a reason for maintaining Commonwealth ties.

“When you have a connection through the monarchy to more than 50 countries around the world that’s one-quarter of the globe. We have a direct cousin-to-cousin relationship and that’s worth keeping,” said Copps.

“The example of the Olympics is just one example where they were actually very influential in Canada getting the Olympics.”

Tributes from federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and provincial premiers poured in throughout the day, and in Nova Scotia, the provincial legislature said on Twitter it had adjourned for the day “as a mark of respect.”

Despite Philip’s recent health woes, MacLeod said word of his death Friday was a blow to many, including “very emotional” officers from the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa he spoke to that morning.

MacLeod said the regiment had “Duke of Edinburgh’s Own” added to its name in recent years, “a huge honour.”

“He was often portrayed as a brisk or brusque, rough character, which I guess he was in some respects, but it’s that other side of him – the caring individual who spent time with people and asked questions, and showed compassion,” said MacLeod, who retired as Canadian secretary in 2017 and lives in Ottawa.

“I feel blessed that I, well, having worked with the two of them, they’re incredible.”

Royal family

Just Posted

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
10-hectare fire near Harrison Mills rages out of control second fire starts near Harrison Lake

A second fire burns near Silver River on east side of Harrison Lake

Looking out over the Fraser Valley from Chipmunk Ridge from the proposed Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (BVMR)
Chance to ask questions about gondola resort proposal near Chilliwack

Project team for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort is holding another virtual info session

The Fraser Valley Bandits have signed guard Gentrey Thomas for the 2021 CEBL season. (Fraser Valley Bandits photo)
Fraser Valley Bandits sign guard Gentrey Thomas

Abbotsford-based basketball club signs former UC Riverside talent

Ryan Villiers is in town carving with his chainsaw and helping to promote this year’s Chainsaw Carving Championship, which is moving ahead. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Hope’s biannual chainsaw carving competition moving ahead

With a controllable outdoor venue, popular event is in planning stages

The Seattle Cossacks are a popular portion of the Hope Brigade Days parade. Some form of a community parade may still take place, say organizers. (Standard file photo)
Hope’s Brigade Days once again hit by pandemic concerns

Main event cancelled, but there is a glimmer of hope some events could happen

(Historica Canada)
VIDEO: Heritage Minute marks 100th anniversary of work to discover insulin

Video centres on Leonard Thompson, 13, the first patient to receive successful injections for Type 1 diabetes

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Vancouver Police Department)
Vancouver police ID 6 gangsters who pose a ‘public safety risk,’ launch gang task force

VPD asking public to stay away from these six people, who they say may be targeted in shootings

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

Then-finance minister Kevin Falcon presents his last B.C. budget, Feb. 21, 2012. The province was emerging from the 2009-10 recession and repaying federal incentive to cancel the harmonized sales tax. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Political veteran Kevin Falcon set for second run at B.C. Liberal leadership

Social media run-up includes Dianne Watts endorsement

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
‘Obviously, he’s a fighter’: Golden eagle, recovered from poisoning, back in Kootenay wild

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

A fledgling white raven was spotted near the end of Winchester Road in Coombs. (Mike Yip photo)
Legend continues as iconic white raven spotted once again on Vancouver Island

Sightings rare everywhere in world except for central Vancouver Island location

Most Read