When bagpiper Wanda Goundrey learned that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away peacefully on Thursday, she went out into her field in Elgin and lowered her flag to half-mast.
“She was just a remarkable person,” says Goundrey, who had the exceptional opportunity to play before an audience including the Queen and members of the royal family at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in 2018.
Goundrey, the pipe major for the Elgin and District Pipe and Drums band, was invited to play at Balmoral with the Ottawa-based Sons of Scotland Pipe Band. The Queen, who was known to have a fondness for bagpipes, proceeded to do a walkabout along the line of pipers after they had finished playing. “We were introduced individually by name and our location,” says Goudrey, who warmly recalls the monarch’s response when her name was called. “All the Queen said was, ‘Oh, Quebec,’” she laughs.
“We were told the fact the Queen did a walkabout was very unusual,” Goundrey notes. “I was told I was not to touch her, but I was three feet from her,” she says of the honour. Thinking back on the experience now, Goundrey exclaims, “It was just completely unbelievable. She was so gracious!”
Flags across the Valley were lowered over the course of the day on Thursday as news continued to spread of the passing of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
At the Huntingdon Legion Branch 81, the flags are at half-mast. “It will be a couple of days before we receive directions from National Command on how to commemorate the funeral,” says 1st Vice President Lorraine Arthur. In the meantime, black flags have been draped over a portion of the photographs hanging in the Legion of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth. Arthur says there will also be changes coming to certain protocols within the Legion following the ascension of King Charles III.
Another photograph hanging in the Huntingdon Legion is of veteran Dan Galipeau with the Queen during a World War II commemorative ceremony. From Godmanchester, Galipeau landed on D-Day with the 16th Field Company supporting the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada at Bernière-sur-Mer. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 91, having met the Queen on several occasions.
Official tributes for Her Majesty and her 70-year reign continue to come from leaders around the world, as well as from the public in the Commonwealth and beyond. Numerous Valley residents recalled memories of the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and shared stories of having waved at Her Majesty as she travelled through villages by car or by train. Others noted ways in which the Queen had affected their lives in posts on social media and in general conversation.
A book of condolences is now available for members of the public to sign at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, as well as online on the Canadian Heritage website at www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/commemoration-her-majesty-the-queen/book. As of Saturday morning, over 22,250 Canadians at home and abroad had expressed their condolences.
An official 10-day mourning period that began on Friday is expected to end with a funeral for Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. on September 19, followed by the committal and burial at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.