N.L. celebrates coronation of King Charles III with Government House event
St. John's rang in the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday morning with a lively 21-gun salute among other festivities at Government House.
Hosted by Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, the King's representative in Newfoundland and Labrador, the event began with a Guard of Honour parade featuring representatives of multiple groups including the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and more.
The parade was followed by a flag raising and a tree planting. Inuk elder Emma Reelis blessed the event and there was a performance by St. John's Inuit drum-dancing group Kilautiup Songuninga, also known as The Strength of the Drum.
"It was important to have Indigenous representation on this occasion, because not only is it important to do so, but as well because of His Majesty's relationship with, and respect for, Indigenous peoples," Foote said during her remarks.
Around 100 people attended the event, with some wearing their royal best despite the misty, cold weather in St. John's.
"Picked an awful cold day for it," said Terry Dawe, a spectator at the outdoor event. "I'm dressed for it today, I've got my long underwear on."
Dawe and his wife Mary braved the cold out of a deep respect for the monarchy.
"A very solemn occasion for us," Dawe said. "Queen Elizabeth, his mom is gone."
Cassandra Ryan, another fan of the Royal family at the event, echoed that sentiment.
"I think today is a happy day and a sad day because we all loved our Queen," she said.
Ryan fondly recalled having met the Queen on two occasions during the province's Cabot 500 celebrations in 1997.
"I left and went out to Bonavista and got in all the crowds and we met her," she said. "And then when I was coming home, here she was at the Purity factory, right on my own back doorstep."
Ryan also met Charles during his visit to the province last year.
"He's waited a long time for this," Ryan said, of the nearly 74 years Charles waited to become king. "Whatever he personally does, that's different. But for him to be king, I think it's only right."
James Laurie, another bystander in the crowd also remembered an encounter with Queen Elizabeth II.
"In 1959, we stood guard on Parliament Hill," said Laurie, who was serving in the army at the time. "She came over to open the Toronto Seaway."
In advance of the Queen's visit, Laurie and the other guards trained for months, even though they only had to guard Elizabeth for a couple hours.
"She used to speak to every 10th person," Laurie said. "She'd ask a question and you answered very briefly."
Laurie, who is turning 85 in July, could also recall being part of the festivities in St. John's for the Queen's coronation in 1953.
"When I was 15 years old, we were out for the Queen," he said. "They gave us all a box of candy. We always went to see the royalty."
Saturday's event also featured a prayer from Reverend Ian Wishart, the provincial command padre for the Royal Canadian Legion, and a speech from Deputy Premier Siobhan Coady.
The event concluded with attendees being given a commemorative pin and a white pine seedling, provided by the provincial government, in recognition of Charles and Camilla's commitment to protecting the environment.
"Our government shares Their Majesties' vision of a clean, green, sustainable future," said Coady. She said over a thousand seedlings will be distributed across the province in the coming weeks.