The longest conversation I ever had with a member of our Royal Family was with the man they call Prince Philip. It was in Regina in November of 1978, when he was a young pup of 57.
For much of his life, the Queen’s husband loved to describe himself as a farmer, and as ceremonial leader of the Royal Agricultural Society, he had come to visit Canadian Western Agribition. There was a reception shortly after his arrival, and I was introduced to him as the news director of CKCK. He shook my hand firmly and said “You’re the people with the lousy picture on Channel 2!”, referring to CKCK television which by then was totally disconnected from the radio station.
I thought to myself “Wow, just like me when I first check into a hotel … look to see what’s available locally on the box!”.
Canada, especially the prairies, have been very friendly and familiar turf for the Royals, and the experience for Philip has been quite different when he’s made the journey by himself. Manitoba’s most enduring and endearing memory of him will always be that rainy Sunday in July of 1967. He presided over the opening of the 5th Pan American Games, the event that put Winnipeg on the map, decades before the arrival of either Teemu Selanne or Patrik Laine. The rain never stopped that day, and the Prince never stopped smiling as it dripped off the end of his royal nose.
Winnipeg hosted those same games a second time in 1999, and the royal duties fell to Princess Anne, Philip’s only daughter.
As he nears birthday #96, and moves into what is best described as genteel ‘semi-retirement’, the Duke of Edinburgh can look back on a fascinating life. His has been the oddest job that any of us can possibly imagine, and he has definitely done it his way.
Did I tell you that I have a brother who looks like him?
I’ll save that for another time.
I’m Roger Currie