As the world marks the death of Prince Philip, his many visits to Manitoba are being remembered closer to home.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth II, died Friday at the age of 99.
The Royal Family’s Twitter account posted the news.
“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
Over the years, the province says Prince Philip made 10 trips to Manitoba dating back to 1951, when he and then Princess Elizabeth stopped in the Keystone Province during their first official royal visit to Canada.
Retired Chief of Protocol for the Government of Manitoba, Dwight MacAulay, helped to organize several of Prince Philip’s later trips to Manitoba, including his last visit during a royal tour of Canada in 2010.
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“Throughout his long, long life, he’s met tens of thousands of people and touched tens of thousands of people and I think the people that he had the chance to meet will remember him with great fondness,” MacAulay said of Prince Philip.
“I know I will certainly remember the times that I got to meet him for the rest of my life.”
MacAulay said he was always struck by Prince Philip’s genuine interest in speaking with young people, something he saw firsthand the first time he met Prince Philip when he came to Thompson in 1984 to present the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards.
The awards, founded by Prince Philip, are designed to motivate young people to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures, according to the organization’s website.
“He seemed to get a real kick out of talking to young people,” said MacAulay, who remembers seeing the same spark decades later when he watched Prince Philip speak to students while touring Red River College in 2002.
“He really enjoyed being engaged with young people and interested in who they were, where they were from, where they were going and what they wanted to do with their life.
“I think he wanted to know what they were going to bring to the world, in many respects.”
MacAulay remembers Prince Philip as a charming man with a good sense of humour who also showed compassion for those affected by flooding when he visited Manitoba in June of 1997.
Prince Philip had been touring Ontario with Queen Elizabeth but decided to take a special helicopter trip on his own to Manitoba after hearing about the disaster.
He wanted to see the damage caused by The Flood of the Century for himself, MacAulay remembers.
“The flood waters had started to recede, but he was very concerned about what was happening in the Province of Manitoba.” MacAulay recalls.
“You could tell Prince Philip wasn’t just interested and engaged but very concerned about the people and community of Ste. Agathe that was in the process of really starting to recover from the flood waters that had struck that spring.”
But MacAulay says his most memorable experience with Prince Philip is one that made headlines around the world.
Prince Philip, 99, admitted to hospital ‘after feeling unwell’
MacAulay was with the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth when the pair were on a water taxi that got temporarily stranded while crossing the Red River when the couple were in Winnipeg marking the Queen’s Jubilee in 2002.
In fact, MacAulay says he was the one who grabbed onto another water taxi that helped tow the royal couple ashore.
“That’s probably going to be one of the things that I’m remembered for is being in that visit where they were stuck in the middle of the Red River,” laughed MacAulay, who says the couple hadn’t forgot about the experience when he had the opportunity to ask them about it on their next visit in 2010.
“They had a real good chuckle over the event — I don’t know if I did at the time — but they certainly did.”
–With files from Amber McGuckin
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