Caley Hartney arrived at work Monday morning to find a bouquet of flowers at her Shelbourne Street office door.
It was just the latest in a series of cards, emails, letters and calls since the Duke of Edinburgh died April 9 at the age of 99.
“There’s been such an outpouring here from people in our community who want to share their touch on what has happened and express their gratitude to the Duke of Edinburgh,” said Hartney, the B.C. and Yukon executive director of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, the duke’s youth leadership program.
Hartney only saw parts of Saturday’s funeral — she intends to watch the entire thing later — but said she understands it hit all the right notes.
She said she has been struck this week by the impact the duke had on both the youth who participated in the program, created in 1956, and the broader community. “It’s been inspiring and touching.”
Hartney said every story she’s heard has referenced the duke’s sense of humour, commitment to young people and ability to connect with individuals.
“His dedication to the notion that young people have infinite potential and given the right sort of tools and resources can accomplish a lot in this world was unwavering,” she said.
JA Pankiw-Petty, a past-president of the award’s B.C. and Yukon division and a former gold award winner, said the duke has left an indelible mark.
“Building leadership skills and building a sense of community and duty in young people, and multiply that by 500,000 [participants] in Canada and just imagine the impact that has on society,” he said.
Pankiw-Petty said he was 18 or 19 when he met the duke.
“He was very engaging with everyone and he took the time to make everyone feel special,” he said. “I was delighted that someone who we all had such respect for was so approachable — he embodied the values he was hoping to instill in young people. That the [award program] survives him and continues to thrive in our province in particular is a testament to his character.”
And by all accounts, the duke was a bit of character.
One reader recalled her mother calling all the kids outside to see Prince Philip drive a yellow Cadillac convertible down Cook Street during a visit in the late 1970s.
Anne Moon, a resident at the Glenshiel seniors residence, said she often looks over Thunderbird Park near the Royal B.C. Museum where the Queen — then Princess Elizabeth — and Prince Philip visited in 1951.
“I wondered about how they must have laughed together over the years over the gifts they received,” said Moon, who was going to have a cake Saturday night, iced in his honour.
Sal Johal, a confessed Royal Family fan, said he took a photo of the Queen and Prince Philip getting out of a floatplane in the Inner Harbour in 1994 ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
For Johal, who grew up in England, it was a nice bookend: The duke had visited his primary school to talk about the Spitfire planes parked on a neighbouring airfield.
“It was just really cool,” he said.
Ian Powell, who met the Queen and Prince Philip several times — once when he was general manger at the Empress Hotel — called the loss of the duke a blow.
“They have been around as long as I have been around,” said Powell, who was born in England. “There’s something so intrinsic about them, they have been such a constant, it just hits a bit harder.”
Powell noted the Queen will turn 95 on Wednesday.
He said as he watched her sitting alone during Saturday’s funeral, he kept thinking: “Just you hang in there.”