Owen Sound residents reflect on visit to Balmoral days before Queen’s death

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When Owen Sound residents Kimberley Love and Glen Drummond visited the grounds of Balmoral Castle in Scotland last weekend, it was a joyous time after attending the Highland Games at nearby Braemer.

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On Thursday, it would be learned that the royal family was traveling to this very spot to be with Queen Elizabeth II at her summer residence, and hours later of the monarch’s death at the age of 96.

On Friday, Love, who lived this summer in the small village of Dunkeld about an hour and a half south of the castle, said via Messenger that it still felt surreal as she reflected on the past week.

“My husband and I were both surprised at how we felt about it: more affected than expected,” Love said of the Queen’s death. “Partly because we were so close so recently: a very unusual situation as usually guests are not on the estate when the Queen is in residence.”

Kimberley Love, second left, and Glen Drummond, third left, with some of their children in Dunkeld, Scotland, late last year.  Others pictured include daughter Isabel, left, daughter-in-law Phoenix, son Alasdair and son Blair.
Kimberley Love, second left, and Glen Drummond, third left, with some of their children in Dunkeld, Scotland, late last year. Others pictured include daughter Isabel, left, daughter-in-law Phoenix, son Alasdair and son Blair. Photo provided

Love and Drummond stayed in a cottage on the Balmoral grounds with friends while visiting the area to attend the Braemer Gathering, an event closely linked to the Royal Family and which the Queen had only missed four times during of his 70 years on the throne.

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Love said in a Facebook post Thursday that their timing at Balmoral was a “fluke” after being postponed twice during the pandemic. In the message, she said it was during the singing of God Save the Queen last Saturday at the games following the arrival of the royal party – which now included King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla – that she became very aware that this might be the last time. she sang those exact words.

She said in her post that there were whispers during the games that the Queen must have been very ill or she would have attended herself.

“I’m not particularly a monarchist, although I’ve become a great admirer of the Queen,” Love wrote in Thursday’s post. “The world seems more uncertain than a few days ago.”

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In her thoughts on Friday, Love said she and Glen felt the Queen, close to the age of their own parents, embodied the same values ​​of their generation, tested by war and need.

“Glen’s mother passed away last Christmas during COVID. We haven’t had a chance to mourn her yet,” Love wrote. “And so I wonder if we all feel it a little more: those of us who have lost someone and haven’t haven’t felt that loss yet.”

Love said when they arrived in Scotland in early summer there was a festive air throughout the village, with the streets wrapped in streamers after the celebration in early June to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Kimberley Love's access pass to Balmoral.
Kimberley Love’s access pass to Balmoral. Photo provided

“The affection of the Queen – whose mother is from the nearby town of Glamis – does not appear to be linked to ideas about the monarchy in general,” Love wrote.

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But she said the mood in the village was much different now with the Queen passing. The village newspaper racks were covered in his likeness.

“I had just picked up a copy of The Scotsman to see how it was covered,” Love wrote. “The woman at the counter – also elderly – started crying when we started discussing it.”

More than 5,000 miles away in Grey-Bruce, many mourned the death of the Queen, like countless others around the world.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff released a statement on Friday offering his constituents’ deepest condolences to the Royal Family and in particular His Majesty King Charles III.

“May he reign long,” Ruff said. “May Her Majesty rest in peace.”

Ruff called the Queen a leader and a remarkable individual whose empathy, leadership and dedication to her country, the Commonwealth and all of its citizens was unparalleled.

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“The fact that she was our monarch for 70 years is unmatched in any modern monarchy and probably never will be,” Ruff said. “We all owe her a debt of gratitude and remembrance for her dedication to service and the great personal sacrifices she made during her 96 years.”

The Canadian flag and the Every Child Matters flag in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, fly at half mast in front of Owen Sound City Hall on Friday, September 9, 2022, one day after the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.
The Canadian flag and the Every Child Matters flag in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, fly at half mast in front of Owen Sound City Hall on Friday, September 9, 2022, one day after the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

The towns of Grey-Bruce lowered their flags to mark the passing of the Queen. They will remain so until the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, scheduled for the next few weeks. At press time, Buckingham Palace had yet to announce a date.

Gloria Habart, chair of the board of trustees of the Billy Bishop Museum in Owen Sound, said the flag will fly at half mast at the museum during the 10-day mourning period set by the federal government.

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“The Queen was an incredible role model,” Habart said. “She never wavered in the vow she made when she was 21.”

Habart has his own special memory of the Queen in Canada’s centenary year in 1967.

She was a reporter for the Ottawa Journal at the time and was posted outside Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, where the Queen was attending Sunday service.

“I was on the edge of a crowd, near her car and she walked past me, looked directly at me and smiled,” Habart said. “I was struck by her beauty and her small size. And I felt that her smile was for me alone.

Habart said she relives the thrill of that day by telling the story again.

“His death is a great loss and I am deeply saddened by his death,” Habart said. “Now we must give our support to King Charles, who will carry on the legacy of duty. He had great teachers in his mother and father.

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Bruce County Executive Janice Jackson said in a statement the county was saddened to learn of the Queen’s passing.

“Her Majesty’s 70-year reign and her commitment to Canada are truly remarkable,” said Jackson. “We share our condolences with the Royal Family as their loss will be felt in our region and across the Commonwealth.”

In Gray Highlands, in addition to lowering flags at municipal buildings, a condolence book is available at the Markdale Municipal Office. The book will be forwarded to Ruff’s office for distribution to the UK government. On June 4, the town’s peace committee planted a white pine in honor of the Queen and her Platinum Jubilee.

“On behalf of council and staff, I offer my condolences to the Royal Family, the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth on the passing of Her Majesty The Queen,” said Mayor of Gray Highlands, Paul McQueen. “The Queen was an outstanding leader dedicated to our service and to the service of the whole Commonwealth. She will be missed.

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