Clark: Meetings with Queen Elizabeth II — humanity and humor


The Queen showed this 10-year-old that great people are often also good and kind people.

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Like so many around the world, I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. She seemed indomitable – a graceful force of nature that was part of the fabric of the world and always would be.

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The Queen served through turmoil and turbulence, through times of jubilant celebration and times of terrible mourning. He was a person of duty, propriety and diplomacy, but he was also a human being: a wife, a sister, a daughter, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

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I have had the privilege of meeting Queen Elizabeth on several occasions and have had the opportunity to witness this humanity – and her humor – firsthand.

The first time I met the queen, I wasn’t supposed to. I was supposed to wait in the car with the driver – a lovely guy – who came out to chat with other waiting drivers. So I jumped up and walked into the airport hangar where Her Majesty’s arrival ceremony was taking place and no one was paying much attention to a little five-year-old boy dressed in a tartan .

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It was a bit of a shock to my father, then Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, when I collapsed on his knees – drooping tights and a beret at an unnaturally casual angle – moments before the Queen arrived, but he acted like it was completely normal, and Prime Minister Trudeau was kind enough to introduce me to Her Majesty as if I was one of them. I curtsied, but maybe not gracefully.

But it was another occasion, at the 1987 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Vancouver, where I had my favorite interaction with the Queen – a moment that demonstrated that great people are often good people too. and kind.

I was 10 years old and I attended a cocktail party with my mother and my father, then Secretary of State for External Affairs. When Her Majesty entered the room, she asked me why I wasn’t at school, and I explained that my teachers thought being in the presence of royalty was a good excuse to miss class. . She laughed, asked me a bit more about my activities, then started to walk around.

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I did my duty to engage in various conversations that evening and was fully prepared to return to our room at the hotel when my mother informed me that protocol was that no one could leave the reception before the queen.

So I sat in the chair closest to the door, waiting impatiently (but politely; my mother was watching) when suddenly a voice said to me, “What are you still doing here?” It was the Queen. I stood up and said, “Well, I can’t leave until YOU leave, so I’m just waiting for you to leave.”

Fortunately, she found it amusing, not insulting, and said “Well, let’s go then, shall we?” and we walked, chatting, out of the room together towards the elevators, where we were both happily released from our official duties for the night.

Elizabeth II was a remarkable human being. She lived an extraordinary life of courage and service, but she was also just a lovely person, and she will be deeply missed.

Catherine Clark is a broadcaster, writer, host and co-founder of the popular podcast The honest talk. She is the daughter of former Prime Minister Joe Clark and author and lawyer Maureen McTeer.

  1. In this file photo taken on June 5, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II stands alongside Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, as she appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the Platinum Pageant in London.

    Kurl: In Canada, Queen Elizabeth was part of the fabric of our lives

  2. Stephen Harper, then Prime Minister, meets Queen Elizabeth at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad in 2009.

    MacDougall: The death of Queen Elizabeth II is a reminder of the value of constancy

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