On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria as longest reigning monarch in British history. Regina not only named for royalty, it also shares some special connections to the royal family.
Michael Jackson has developed an interesting insight into Queen Elizabeth’s connection to Saskatchewan after spending 25 years as the protocol officer for the province. He was responsible for planning 10 royal visits to the province and helped plan four visits by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.
“The queen is just a dream to work for because she’s so professional. She knows exactly what she’s doing and she just understands exactly what you’re trying to help her with,” he said. “On a personal level, she’s just a kind and open person, very thoughtful and she’s got a great sense of humour.”
Jackson also remarked that Queen Elizabeth understands exactly how complex it is to plan a royal tour so as many people as possible can meet her.
Jackson retired after planning the 2005 royal visit to mark Saskatchewan’s Centennial. For him, that tour was the most memorable one.
“Among other things, she inaugurated the Queen Elizabeth II wing at Government House and she unveiled that wonderful bronze statue of herself riding her favourite horse Burmese who was born and raised in Saskatchewan — the statue that now stands in front of the Legislature building,” Jackson recalled.
The Centennial royal tour also included a stop at the University of Saskatchewan and a lunch at a curling rink in Lumsden. He says in 25 years, royal visits never failed to draw big crowds.
“I was not surprised, but very pleased to see the sustained interest and affection for the royal family,” Jackson said. “I think people of all ethnic backgrounds sense that there is something unique and integral to our history as a Canadian nation.”
Jackson is now the vice-president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada and has published a book called The Crown and Canadian Federalism. He says she has endeared herself to the Canadian public on her frequent visits. Although she holds no political power, during her 63 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II has also played a symbolic role in several historic events.
“The Queen approved and signed the Patriation of the Constitution in 1982. She approved and proclaimed the new Canadian flag -as it then was way back in 1964,” Jackson commented. “So she’s been part and parcel of Canadian history ever since then.”
Jackson also describes Queen Elizabeth II as an ideal example of what a constitutional monarch should be.
“She never gets into controversy, she never voices political opinions. She’s open and listening and sympathetic, and she is a great fan of Canada,” he said.
REGINA’S ROYAL JEWELRY CONNECTION
During her 63 year reign, Queen Elizabeth has worn a lot of impressive jewelry, but one brooch in her collection was designed in Regina.
Rachel Mielke is the founder of Hillberg & Berk. She has designed jewelry for celebrities like Carrie Underwood and even First Lady Michelle Obama. But her biggest commission was to design a piece of jewelry for a gift from Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Scholfield to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England.
“It was presented to her in October of 2013, and that in itself was an incredible experience for our company and we really had no idea if the queen would ever wear the piece or not,” she said. “To our complete delight, and sometimes disbelief, she has gone on to wear it four times.”
Mielke says her parents always loved the royal family and they would make a big deal out of all the celebrations and royal visits to Canada.
“I just always remember when I was growing up, there was always a feeling that the royals were very special to us,” she said.
The Regina entrepreneur still gets a thrill out of seeing her jewelry design in photos of the queen published around the world. This past winter, Mielke visited London for a fashion shoot and she took time to visit the display of the crown jewels.
“Seeing some of the historic pieces in her collection was just a pretty inspiring experience,” Mielke said. “I’m glad that I had the opportunity to that after I designed the piece for her, and not before because it was pretty overwhelming.”
— Hillberg & Berk (@hillbergandberk) June 27, 2014
— Hillberg & Berk (@hillbergandberk) February 1, 2015