An honorary lieutenant colonel from one of Canada’s distinguished infantry units says he never imagined he would ever take part in a prestigious state funeral like the one held for Queen Elizabeth II in the heart of London.
Glenn DeCaire, a former Hamilton police chief, told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton it was an “unbelievable opportunity” to represent the thousands of men and women who’ve served as Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the late monarch’s procession on Monday.
“The queen was our not only for the Canadian Forces, the commander in chief, but for the Argyle’s since 1950,” said DeCaire.
“She served for 72 years in the role of the Colonel in Chief for the unit, he said, so they jumped at the opportunity “to go and show our respect and say thank you appropriately to Her Majesty on the day of her funeral.”
The unit, also represented by Commanding Officer Lt.-Col. Carlo Tittarelli, Regimental Sergeant Major Mark Brewster, Pipe Major Scott Balinson and Master Corporal Eric Korten, walked with others from the Commonwealth countries across London.
DeCaire said he was “struck with honour” being among the large gathering from around the globe coming together to show their respect.
“Just a sign of how important she was around the world,” DeCaire said in describing the massive memorial.
“As Argyll’s, she had a very, very strong relationship with us. She’s attended to the armories.”
The queen visited Canada more than any of the Commonwealth countries – 22 stops in total, and on several occasions would host Canadian forces overseas at Buckingham Palace.
That included a 2015 acknowledgement of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo‘s 2014 death while on duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Ron Foxcroft, the CEO of Flute Transport and past honorary Col. of the Argylls, was a part of that contingent that went to the U.K. and he remembers how proud she said she was to serve as Col. in Chief of Canada’s forces.
Queen Elizabeth, who died on Sept. 8 at the age of 96, sat on the British throne for 70 years – serving as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
Her son, King Charles III, is now head of state not only for the United Kingdom and Canada, but 13 other nations as well.
Officials from around the world attended the funeral at Westminister Abbey Sept. 19, including U.S. President Joe Biden, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several of his predecessors.
DeCaire sat alongside the Commonwealth delegation at the Abbey, seated some 20 to 25 rows from the head of the altar where where the casket was placed.
Following the funeral service, the coffin of the queen was carried out of Westminster Abbey and transported through central London and up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace in a solemn procession which saw her family walking behind the coffin.
“Of course, the march from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch down The Mall was just unbelievable in terms of the outpouring of love and respect and and sympathy for the Royal Family,” Decaire said.
He says the hundreds of thousands that lined city streets before and after the funeral is what he’ll remember most about his experience.
“The number of people who had a personal connection to Her Majesty was unbelievable,” deCaire remarked. “The stories that people were telling on the street, really, it was just phenomenal.”