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

Bryn Sandhu signs her scholarship papers after agreeing to a full-ride scholarship at Northern Michigan University. (Contributed photo)
Earl Marriott Secondary wrestler set to grapple with NCAA competition

Bryn Sandhu will wrestle and study this fall at Northern Michigan University

The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the provincial government to implement a temporary paid sick-leave program. (Unsplash.com photo by Kelly Sikkema)
Surrey Board of Trade calls for temporary paid sick-leave program

Reccomendations sent to provincial labour minister, news release notes

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey rink, Newton playground earn B.C. excellence awards

Awards presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

Surrey Memorial Hospital emergency department entrance. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Youth counselling services expand to Surrey Memorial and other hospitals with $1.35M grant

Dan’s Legacy Foundation to provide free mental health, substance-use outreach

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Interior Health locks out Kelowna martial arts gym following COVID violations

Actions were taken after all other steps to gain compliance were exhausted, says health authority

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

FILE – A plexiglass barrier is pictured creating a barrier to protect a cashier at a grocery store in North Vancouver, B.C. Sunday, March 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Grocery store workers now eligible for COVID vaccines in Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal

Workers will be fast-tracked through the system, which is otherwise booking for people in their 50s

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Arrest made after man spits, yells anti-Asian racial slurs at Victoria mom and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Ripy Jubbal of Abbotsford has received a 30-month jail sentence for the fraudulent use of credit cards and credit card data. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford woman sentenced for $80K in fraudulent credit card purchases

Ripy Jubbal and spouse used identities of 19 different victims, court hears

Most Read