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Tribute to His Royal Highness

Honourable colleagues, His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest on Saturday, 17 April at St. George’s Chapel  on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Many of the funeral arrangements were planned by Prince Philip himself, especially the choice of music, which included several pieces with a strong connection to his time in the navy. One such piece was “Eternal Father, Strong To Save” . This same hymn was played in Canada by the dominion carillonneur on the same day from the Peace Tower in Ottawa. The first verse goes as follows:

Eternal Father, strong to save 

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave 

Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep 

Its own appointed limits keep; 

O hear us when we cry to Thee 

For those in peril on the sea. 

There are so many ways in which this hymn resonates with our times and indeed with the life of His Royal Highness, who started his life as an exile, served in the Royal Navy and was for our monarch over a period of 73 years Her Majesty’s stay and strength.

The commemorative ceremony in Ottawa also featured an original piece of music composed specifically for the occasion by Petty Officer 2nd class Nadia Pona  of the Royal Canadian Navy entitled “His Royal Service Ends”. The piece celebrates the life of Prince Philip in honour of His Royal Highness’s special bond with the Canadian Armed Forces and his naval career.

Still on the nautical theme, Prince Philip was instrumental in the creation of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia . After his first visit to B.C. in 1951, he contacted the Greenwich Museum  and asked for the museum to send a collection of objects to the province in order to start a new naval museum.

Prince Philip visited my home province of British Columbia 12 times. Here are just a few of his notable visits. In 1954 he came to Victoria and attended the British Empire and Commonwealth Games  in Vancouver, where he witnessed the Miracle Mile. He also poured the first aluminum ingot at the new smelter in Kitimat. In 1971, on the centenary of B.C. joining confederation, the royal visitor sailed from Vancouver to Victoria on the Royal Yacht Britannia. In 2002, Prince Philip’s final visit to B.C. was an 11-day trip to Canada on the last leg of the Commonwealth Golden Jubilee tour  celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. The Queen unveiled a stained glass window in the B.C. legislature in Victoria and dropped the puck at an NHL exhibition game in Vancouver. Of course, the Canucks  won.

To Her Majesty and the Royal Family, we offer our deepest condolences.