Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer
Earlier this week, Queen Elizabeth completed yet another trip to Canada. It could, very well, be her last visit to the former colony. Then again, her mother lived to a ripe old age (over 100) and although Elizabeth is well into her 80s she continues a hectic schedule of appearances and travel. Most of us would be lucky to enjoy her mobility (and I'm not referring to the chauffeur driven cars, motorcades and private airplane) when we are her age. She climbs flights of steps and continues to ride horses. So, I wouldn't be surprised if there was yet another tour in the years ahead.
Having missed most of the antics of the week before (I was lucky to have been off during the days of G20 Summit in Toronto) the crowds associated with HM's visit were quite small and very well mannered.
Because I was not properly accredited for the Royal Tour, I went into the public gallery outside St. James Cathedral on the Sunday morning when Elizabeth and Philip attended Sunday service. I was able to find out where the planned walkabout would occur. I soon realized my luck being almost next to a man named Ian Macdonald. An avid photographer, Mr. Macdonald had shot both the Queen Mum and Elizabeth over a number of Royal Tours. Hanging over the fencing, facing out toward the cars assembled on the street, MacDonald hung a 4 foot picture of Elizabeth's mother. It was a picture he took in 1989. There was a very good chance the photograph would catch the attention of Her Majesty. It did. Macdonald then presented her with an envelope of various other pictures he had taken over the years. For me, it was almost perfect (being on the other side of them would have worked better) as she stopped to speak with him. For 15 seconds, Elizabeth was just a few feet away and conversing with a commoner.
Walkabouts for Royalty are fairly routine. Where they stop and chat is often a crap shoot and you either end up in the right place, or totally blocked by the pool photographers or security detail.
This walkabout was a far cry from the last Royal visit of 1997. At the time I was working in Ottawa and was positioned on Parliament Hill where she and the Prince would leave the landau. As she began to climb down, my camera refused to work. It was a bad moment as I hit the camera several times, lobbied a number of four-letter words at my camera and eventually picked up a 2nd camera, switched lens to my wide angle, and managed a couple of not-very-good frames before she filtered away in the mass of people. Five minutes later, I was on my phone talking to my then girlfriend who immediately said, "you had problems with your camera." I asked her how she knew that and she said, "because you were live on TV looking down at it and saying something."
Thankfully, the TV coverage didn't pick up my very inappropriate, monosyllabic cursing.
This tour went much smoother.