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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Royal Visit

Whenever the ‘Royals’ come to Canada, I think of the time back in the mid 70’s when they came to New Brunswick to visit the newly opened Kings Landing historic settlement. There were only four of us chosen to greet the royal couple and escort them around the village, the Premier, the Director and my husband George and I. George was the Deputy Minister responsible for creating the site. After being introduced, the Premier and Director stuck with her Majesty, so my husband and I had the pleasure of walking and talking with the charming Duke of Edinburgh. Staff and other visitors were not allowed to come within about 30 feet of their Majesties.

The settlement is strung out along the river like early settlements were in early days, and Queen Elizabeth and the Duke rode part of the way in a carriage drawn by a pair of nicely groomed workhorses. Both of them were very interested in the horses and took time to examine and discuss how they were harnessed.

At one point when the Duke was dismounting from their carriage, he spoke to the driver and asked him if the horses had names. The man seemed very shy and was slow to answer: "Yes, your majesty, they do". The Duke then inquired kindly: "Tell me, do you know their names". Again it felt like almost a minute before the man drawled slowly, still looking down: "Yes, your royal highness, they do". The Duke by then with a bit of impatience in his voice asked: "Well, what ARE their names?" It took what seemed even longer before the man finally appeared to come to a decision. He raised his head, looked the Duke straight in the eye and pronounced: "Well Sir, their names is Queenie and Dook."

With that the ‘Dook’ let out a roar of laughter - we all laughed with him, and the Queen, a few yards ahead, called out - "What has happened?". When Prince Phillip told her, she too had a good laugh and I'm sure it eased any formalities we all felt on that occasion that I will never forget. Rie

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