REGINA — Saskatchewan has bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in downtown Regina was the venue for the provincial memorial service for the Queen Monday evening.
The service coincided with the National Day of Mourning, as well as the Queen’s state funeral in the United Kingdom earlier that day, and brought a conclusion to the official period of mourning for the province.
The ceremonies attracted dignitaries including Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty and Donna Mirasty, Premier Scott Moe, Opposition leader Carla Beck, Speaker Randy Weekes, Regina Mayor Sandra Masters, and a number of other provincial dignitaries and officials. Upon his arrival, Premier Moe signed the book of condolences for Her Majesty.
Lt.-Gov. Mirasty gave remarks on the Queen’s legacy of public service. He noted the many occasions the Queen visited Canada, including six times to the province of Saskatchewan.
Mirasty said the Queen’s final public statement on Sept. 7 was a message of condolence to those impacted by the attacks on James Smith Cree Nation.
“Donna and I attended the funeral service there on Saturday, and it was amazing how appreciative people were of that last act of Her Majesty,” said Mirasty.
“Our Queen cared about Canada and she cared about Canadians,” he said. “The expanse of world events and societal changes Her Majesty witnessed was astonishing. She showed us a remarkable capacity for change, yet valued the history and tradition of her role. Throughout her life she was respected and admired, recognized for a dedicated service and resilience in the face of personal challenges. With a long, well-lived life, and a unique role that required working with dozens of heads of state over seven decades, Her Majesty was a woman of wisdom and experience. She made service a priority, and was an inspiring example for us all.”
The service was presided over by Rev. Helen Kennedy, Bishop of Qu’Appelle. Kennedy has of a small personal connection to the Queen: her grandfather was part of Elizabeth’s protective entourage in North Africa during her honeymoon.
“She has a special place in my heart,” said Kennedy, who was happy to see St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral play an important role in paying tribute to the Queen.
“It’s been a whirlwind of activity for sure. We are quite proud to be hosting such an important event for such an important person,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said she was one of those who were up early in the morning to tune in to the state funeral coverage from the United Kingdom. “That was when the grieving happened, as it has been for the last couple of weeks, really. But tonight, is a chance to honour her, and give thanks for all that she has done for this country and for the church in general.”
For this memorial, the Anglican Church followed the traditional liturgy of the funeral service, following protocol as closely as possible. Protocol has been important for entire period of mourning in the province, including during the accession proclamation for King Charles III at Government House on Sept. 10.
Jason Quilliam, chief of Protocol for the Government of Saskatchewan, explained that preparations for the potential death of the Queen had long been in place.
“Most folks are familiar with ‘Operation London Bridge,’” he said, referring to the plans and procedures approved by the Queen, which were in place for decades in the United Kingdom.
At the provincial level, “certainly we have also been planning for some time. As soon as we heard back on (Sept.) 8th that Her Majesty had passed, those plans were put into place.”
The province started speaking quickly with St. Paul’s Cathedral to put the service together, and “they were more than ready to assist and play a role, and in most respects actually lead it because it is a church service.”
Despite the preparations, the death of Queen Elizabeth II still came as a surprise, as she had remained active to the end. Quilliam paid tribute to her many years of service.
“She said when she was 21 years old … that no matter how long her life, whether it be short or long, that it would be devoted to at the time she said the Imperial Family, but we know that now mostly as the Commonwealth. I think that’s a promise she kept unequivocally.”