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Countess of Wessex on hand to mark grand opening of Edmonton’s Light Horse Park

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, participated in a ceremony to mark the opening of Light Horse Park in Edmonton Friday, June 24, 2016. Sarah Kraus, Global News

Located in the heart of Old Strathcona, the official opening of Light Horse Park was marked with a royal visit Friday morning.

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, participated in a ceremony to mark the opening of the park, located immediately west of the former Connaught Armoury in Old Strathcona.

The countess, wife of the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, was joined by Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr. The countess stopped to chat with several students from King Edward, Mount Carmel and Garneau schools who were on hand for the ceremony.

The event included a rededication ceremony that will see the cenotaph moved to a more visible location in the park. It was originally installed by the Strathcona Legion in 1967.

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“I congratulate the members of the Old Strathcona neighbourhood and the regimental foundation for working together to tell the story of the Regiment in Light Horse Park,” Hehr said.

“Given that we are in one of the most significant periods of remembrance in our generation it is wonderful to see the cenotaph refurbished and relocated to this new setting for greater prominence and community recognition.”

The ceremony also included a sod turning photo op, during which the countess graciously offered her assistance to Hehr so he could take part.

The Countess of Wessex is the Colonel-in-Chief of the South Alberta Light Horse – often referred to as “Alberta’s Regiment” – which the park is named after.

The name change is intended to reinforce the unit’s historical ties to the 19th Alberta Dragoons, Connaught Armoury, Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the local community.

“Our city’s bond with the South Alberta Light Horse Regiment has been strengthened with a succession of Edmontonians serving as its honorary leader. Today’s park opening, in the presence of the Countess of Wessex, in historic Old Strathcona marks yet another milestone in our relationship,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

The Regiment has hosted its Remembrance Day ceremony in the park since 2008.

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The South Alberta Light Horse requested the name change in 2008. The request was approved by the City of Edmonton in 2012.

After the ceremony, the countess was scheduled to head up to Fort McMurray to tour the wildfire-ravaged region with Canada’s Governor General David Johnston.

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