B.C. premier, lieutenant governor attend church service to honour Queen Elizabeth in Victoria
British Columbians paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in Victoria with a ceremonial procession and commemorative service Monday morning.
The procession, which began at the legislature's Parliament Buildings, was led by a Royal Canadian Navy band and a 100-member guard of honour. It followed a route through downtown Victoria to Christ Church Cathedral, where a memorial service is taking place.
WATCH | Premier John Horgan recalls Queen Elizabeth's praise for British Columbia during the late monarch's 1983 visit:
Dignitaries, including B.C. Premier John Horgan and Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin, joined the procession and attended the church service.,
The service is being led by Rev. Ansley Tucker and will be live-streamed, as public seating inside the cathedral will be limited.
Austin and Horgan both delivered eulogies in the monarch's memory during the service.
"She dutifully served for seven decades always with dignity, grace and unwavering devotion to her people," said Austin.
"Her Majesty's constant presence touched many generations of Canadian families who watched her grow from the teenage princess who trained as a mechanic during WW II to the young queen who charmed crowds on her many tours throughout the country."
Horgan noted that most British Columbians had known no other monarch than Queen Elizabeth II. "For more than 70 years, her majesty lived by a simple vow: I serve."
The premier recalled anecdotes from the Queen's seven visits to the province, including during her Royal Jubilee when she dropped the puck before a Canucks game at Rogers Arena.
"If there was a moment that the Queen captured our hearts, it would have been that day, certainly mine," he said.
The 1.4-kilometre procession began with a 21-cannon salute, while the guard of honour carried their rifles upside down as a mark of mourning.
Former Canadian Armed Forces veteran Len Drew attended Monday's commemorative proceedings in Victoria. The retired major was only 20 years old when he met the Queen during her visit to Charlottetown in 1964.
"It was a great honour to meet a commander in chief," said Drew, who was in charge of logistics and transportation at the time.
Drew says he later rushed over to the state ball, which was meant to conclude the royal visit, and as he was coming down the stairs, the mayor shouted out, "Drew, dance with the queen!"
"I looked over, and there the Queen was standing by herself."
So, the young major danced with the monarch until her husband, Prince Phillip, came to relieve him.
A riderless horse, symbolizing a fallen comrade and to represent the Queen's love of horses, was also part of the procession.
Today is a day of mourning in B.C., with schools and most Crown corporations closed, but it is not a statutory holiday, and most private businesses are open as usual.
Across B.C. and the country, Canadians are holding various events to honour the monarch and her 70-year reign.