Albertans reflect on Queen Elizabeth's legacy after her death

·3 min read
Queen Elizabeth accepts a baton from Canadian athlete Diane Jones-Konihowski. The baton contains the opening speech from the Queen sent from Buckingham Palace. The 11th Commonwealth Games officially got underway Aug. 3, 1978 in Edmonton. (Rod MacIvor/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Queen Elizabeth accepts a baton from Canadian athlete Diane Jones-Konihowski. The baton contains the opening speech from the Queen sent from Buckingham Palace. The 11th Commonwealth Games officially got underway Aug. 3, 1978 in Edmonton. (Rod MacIvor/The Canadian Press - image credit)

From an Olympian to the average passer-by, Albertans are reflecting on the legacy of Queen Elizabeth following her death on Thursday.

Buckingham Palace announced in a short statement that she died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth's legacy weighs heavily on Diane Jones-Konihowski, who is a member of the Order of Canada and a three-time Olympian pentathlete.

She met the Queen and Royal Family numerous times; one of which was in 1970 when the Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh, Scotland and the family held a garden party on the grounds of Sandringham Estate.

"They liked to meet with the athletes," Jones-Konihowski said.

She also met members of the Royal Family in Christchurch, New Zealand at the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

One memorable meeting was in 1978, when then-27-year-old Jones-Konihowski ran in the opening ceremony of that year's Commonwealth Games.

She carried the baton holding the Queen's opening speech and passed it to her so that she could open the Games formally.

Jones-Konihowski then went on to win a gold medal, which the Queen awarded her.

"The only thing I really worried about was that I was wearing short shorts and you're supposed to do a curtsy when you meet Queen Elizabeth, so that was sort of playing on my mind a little bit," Jones-Konihowski said, and laughed as she recalled the moment.

"But I did it and other than that, it was a tremendous honour to be chosen to carry the message into the stadium, and to have [her] read the message to open the games."

The people's Queen

In 2005, the Queen toured Alberta and Saskatchewan to mark the centennial anniversaries of each province.

Todd Noble remembers when she visited Jasper to attend mass at St. Mary and St. George Anglican Church.

Noble said his wife called him while he was at work and said there was word the Queen and Prince Philip were coming into town.

Noble was also informed their then-two-year old daughter, Brynn, was chosen to be a flower girl.

"My daughter she's only 19 now, but ... we've kind of held a special place [for the Queen] after having our personal interaction with her," Noble said.

Noble recalls there being a crowd around the church when he arrived and saw his daughter there.

He noted barriers and security were keeping most people back, except for his daughter.

Noble remembers the Queen coming out of the church and his daughter breaking away from her post to investigate a bug on the ground, before she looked up at the Queen to also show her the bug.

"The Queen could have just walked right by and thought nothing of it and just kind of made very light of it," Noble said.

"But she stopped and she looked at my daughter and she laughed and looked around, and I recall her saying something to the effect of like, 'Who might this little one belong to?'"

He added that elicited laughter from everybody surrounding the pair, along with Prince Philip, who was behind the Queen and was holding himself laughing out loud before the Queen patted the child on her head and moved on.

"She took that time to just acknowledge this little girl ... it was justification to how personable she really is," Noble said.

Submitted by Dan MacLennan
Submitted by Dan MacLennan

Dan MacLennan and his wife also met the Queen during her 2005 tour. She was at a small scale private event after a formal dinner at the Northlands Park Agricom, now known as the Edmonton EXPO Centre.

For the longest time, MacLennan said he had trouble getting people to believe he met the Queen until he was provided a photo by the office of then-deputy premier Anne McLellan, ten years later.

"I'm very grateful that I got the pictures and that I can actually say that I met her and she's just another normal person who came across really well,"  MacLennan said.