B.C. remembers Prince Philip: Engaging and charming, with quick sense of humour

A representative of the Victoria branch of the Monarchist League of Canada says he was privileged to have a chat with Prince Philip during the royal’s visit to Toronto in 2013, and was struck by his engaging personality.

“He was very good at putting people at ease and he had a quick sense of humour and was charming,” said Bruce Hallsor, who called the prince’s death Friday at 99 “a sad occasion.”

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“Prince Philip has been the consort to our queen for more years than most of us have been alive,” he said. “He’s been a constant figure in our monarchy and in our society.”

Hallsor said most Canadians will feel a sense of loss in the wake of Prince Philip’s death. “It’s hard to imagine the Queen without him at her side,” he said. “He’s been part of all the major events of our country and many of those in our world for 70 years.”

Hallsor said the prince had a distinguished record as a navy captain in the Second World War, part of “an incredible life story” before marrying Queen Elizabeth.

After their marriage, the prince stepped into his royal duties “with vigor,” and created the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people, Hallsor said.

“He was one of the early leaders in the World Wildlife Fund, talking about conservation and even climate change back in the ’70s before it was fashionable,” he said. “He was somebody who showed real initiative and real leadership.”

Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin called the prince a devoted husband and consort to Queen Elizabeth, and said in a statement that British Columbians will remember him fondly for “his devotion to Queen and country, his duties as royal patron and his ever-keen interest in the lives and work of Canadians.”

“On behalf of all British Columbians, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, the entire royal family and all citizens of the Commonwealth on the loss of this steadfast companion and most loyal prince.”

Premier John Horgan also issued a statement, saying the prince “left an indelible mark” each time he visited British Columbia, whether alongside the Queen or on his own.

He said the prince will be especially remembered for the important work he did in helping to establish Khutzeymateen Provincial Park on the north coast as a sanctuary for grizzly bears.

Horgan said the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has made a difference to thousands of young people in B.C., and will continue to develop “leaders of tomorrow.”

Flags at many government buildings were at half-mast to honour the prince, including Saanich Municipal Hall. Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who was raised in England, said this is a sorrowful time.

“He’s been a remarkable man, just a few months short of his hundredth birthday,” Haynes said. “Coming from England, I’m aware of the connection of the British people to the monarchy, and the Commonwealth connection.

“My thoughts are with the family.”

jbell@timescolonist.com

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