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Monday, July 19, 2010

By Request

A friend suggested that I follow my last blog post with a few personal observations about the Queen's visit to New Brunswick. Though normally no great follower of ‘royal’ events, I must have been in a pretty heightened emotional state that day because my memories are still very strong. Interesting that researchers confirm what we already sense, that if at the time our brain is laying down its system of recall we are in such an emotional state, it’s almost as if memories are seared into the mind and become unforgettable.

I felt like a bit player that day - the three men had valid reasons for being there, but I was one of the 'chosen few' to be introduced just because I happened to be the 'wife of'. So I hung back and tried my best to be inconspicuous. However, on several occasions her Majesty sought me out and asked me questions. I was the only woman and about her age – but I think it just may have been because of my overly discrete attitude. One question was about the deep red sails on the 'Brunswick Lion', the replica of a sailing vessel that would have been used before 1860 to bring the settlers up the Saint John River. As a chemist, I happened to know the answer to that one and, with a confidence I had not felt with the other questions, I was able to tell her that to preserve the canvas they used red ochre, which was iron oxide commonly found in soil and mixed with oil, often seal oil. (I've just thought of the connection with the old song ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’.)

It must have been a difficult enough day for them because their daughter, Princess Anne, was riding in the Montreal Olympic Games as a member of the British team the next day. As proud parents, there must have been concerns, as always, about security.

There was no question that the Queen set the pace and was aware of the time, because after the hour allotted for the visit, they were ready to leave exactly on time. However, she refused to go until she said goodbye to me, and, hanging back as usual, I had to be summoned, camera in hand, and had the pleasure of shaking her hand and extending best wishes that all would go well the next day. Overall I was very impressed with the Queen's intelligence, how well she had been briefed and her show of warmth. Rie

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