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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Hotel Zed Tofino. (Westerly file photo)
Two Tofino businesses up for building awards

14th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read