Dick Hunt's Blog

July 1, 2011

The Day I Almost Shook Hands With The Queen

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 8:26 pm

The Day I Almost Shook Hands With The Queen.
by Dick Hunt,  Written May 7th, 2007. Posted on WordPress July 1, 2011
A major event in the Community of Williams Lake in the Cariboo region of British Columbia is the Annual Stampede.  It is the near total preoccupation of the central Cariboo and it’s people and the great influx of tourists as well.  Having been born and raised and worked as a cattle rancher for the first 35 years of my life, I tended to ignore it most years.  But there was one year that I was drawn to the Stampede Grounds for a different activity than viewing Cowboys and livestock.  The Queen and Prince Philip were in town and scheduled to visit the Stampede.
The expected crowds were likely to number many thousands of avid stampeders and Royals admirers, in addition to the locals and the First Nations People. The R.C.M.P and other officials and the Royal entourage were charged with the task of protecting the Royal couple while at the same time allowing as much close viewing and social contact as possible.  The Royal Canadian Legion Branch of which I was the Chaplain was asked to don Uniform Dress and assist the R.C.M.P. with crowd control.
So I was entrusted with a segment of space inside the very large rope enclosure.  Having just returned from an official duty in my work as the Rector of St. Peter’s Church, I was still wearing my clerical collar.  The Duke of Edinborough was with a number of the Royal Party strolling around inside the rope going in a counterclockwise direction.  When he reached my area, he stopped to chat (as he had done many times as he walked about).  Then ensued the following conversation.  “Hello”, (as he shook my hand),  “where are you located”,  I told him  I was on home ground there and he asked me if I was in the Armed forces as a Chaplain  during the war to which I answered, no.   He said then “so you have become a minister since the war” and I said yes.  He said, “what Church do you represent” and I said “St. Peter’s Anglican Parish here in Willams Lake”.   Then he smiled and said, “that’s nice, tell me, are the people around here  a reasonably God fearing lot?”.  I said “not so you would notice it Sir.  But sometimes when they are frightened they become God fearing for a little while”.   He laughed and said. “that figures”  and off he went for other little visits.  I felt very honored that he had stopped to chat with me.
A little later the Queen came, going in a clockwise direction.  When she came near me, no more than a hand clasp away, she smiled, as only she can smile, reached out to take my hand and was about to speak when a member of her party tapped her on the shoulder to tell her something…and the moment was lost, my spell was broken.  Oh so close!  But that smile is etched into my memory and I am a lifetime admirer of that lovely  Lady.

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