Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride Leads Military Parade in Downtown Ottawa, Canada for Memorial Service for Queen Elizabeth II – Copyright AFP Juan BARRETO
Thousands of Canadians braved the cold and rain to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, bringing corgis and fashion brooches as they lined the streets of the capital for the parade.
People stood solemnly under a sea of umbrellas in Ottawa, watching Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers on horseback and a military brass band march past Parliament, hours after her London funeral.
Monarchists, civil servants on days off, and others who simply loved the Queen and wanted to pay their respects to her all crowded along the parade route, clutching steaming cups of coffee to warm their hands, and shared fond memories of the only monarch most ever or knew.
Because Canada is a Commonwealth country, the Queen was its head of state.
“She has always been a mainstay in times of change, upheaval and instability,” said Alexander Kerrison, 32, who accompanied him with his wife and wrapped newborn.
“Despite her ups and downs, Elizabeth remained ‘poised and elegant…and didn’t stray, and I respect her for that,'” Noella Trimble echoed, adding, “I just wanted to be here to say goodbye to the Queen of Canada.”
A nearby police officer received camera after camera from people in the crowd who asked him to take pictures of them from his seat.
Images of the Queen were shown on large screens throughout the center of the city.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the day a national holiday, but most businesses remained open.
Gordon Pringle told AFP he stepped out “to bow his head and pay homage to a great hero, one who in our lifetime was a constant example of civility and dignity.”
“She was my queen all my life,” said Rita Brown, 66, who was not afraid of constant drizzle and thunderstorms.
“She was like an international grandmother to all of us,” said Janet Davidson, who traveled with her husband Don from Vancouver for the celebration.
“We just wanted to honor the Queen and be with those who wanted to honor the Queen,” she said, holding back tears as she recalled chance encounters with Elizabeth in London and Paris.
– Houses in Canada –
In the skies overhead, vintage World War II planes, along with modern fighter jets, were scheduled to fly past Parliament and Christ Church Cathedral, where a memorial service was also held, but they were stopped at the last minute due to a storm warning.
As horses and riders in red serge passed by, a corgi in a white and blue polka-dot tie stuck its head out from under people’s feet to get a better view.
His owner Mitchell Goldie, 25, brought Winston to a corgi gathering the day before as a tribute.
“We (Ottawa Corgi owners) wanted to get together and do something to honor her and celebrate her life and of course her love for Corgis,” he said.
Several dozen Corgis attended the event at Major’s Hill Park overlooking Parliament. “It’s a big dog in a small dog pack,” Goldie commented.
Following the memorial procession, hundreds of dignitaries gathered at Christ Church Cathedral for a service to the music of Ginette Reno and Rufus Wainwright, and for a speech by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
The sounds of bagpipes and horns filled the air.
Although Canadians’ relations with the monarchy became increasingly strained, they were tied to Queen Elizabeth to the very end, and she to Canada, having visited the country more often than in any other country.
More than 52,000 Canadians sent messages through the online condolence book.
“She was the head of state and, of course, our queen,” Mulroney said in the eulogy. “But I think she felt a special love, a very deep love for Canada, for its diversity, its geography and its history.”
Mulroney recalled the Queen saying to Ronald Reagan in 1983 as she prepared to travel to Vancouver after a state visit to the United States, “I’m going home to Canada.”