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The Duke of Edinburgh

Canadian national commemorative ceremony in honour of Prince Philip takes place


Like many other Commonwealth nations, Canada held a commemorative service in honour of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Held at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, Ontario, after the funeral at Windsor finished, it celebrated the Duke’s life and his relationship with Canada. 

The ceremony was held at an empty cathedral, with all watching remotely due to Covid. It was led by the Dean of Ottawa and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Elizabeth J Bretzlaff and the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, the Right Reverend Shane A.D. Parker. The cathedral has long been connected with the Royal Family, and a service commemorating the life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was held there in 2002. 

Albert Dumont, Algonquin Spiritual Advisor, spoke on Prince Philip’s continual hope for youth across the Commonwealth to bring change and growth, and how their lives parallel Indigenous teachings. Dumont also highlighted Philip’s visits to Turtle Island and relationships with First Peoples. 

Roselyne Marie-Andreé Rhéaume, Sailor First-Class, Royal Canadian Navy, gave a reading from Ecclesiasticus, Ecclesiasticus 44:1-4, 7-8. Throughout the ceremony, Prince Philip’s storied military career was celebrated, and it was particularly fitting to have a Sailor from the Royal Canadian Navy give a reading. 

Major-General Guy J.J. Chapdelaine, Chaplain General, Canadian Armed Forces, offered an interfaith greeting. In addition to being the Chaplain General to all Canadian Armed Forces, he is also an Honourary Chaplain to Her Majesty. He highlighted the Duke’s own service:

“We pray for all people throughout the world who mourn the loss of The Duke of Edinburgh, that in our grief we may follow his example, dedicating our lives to serving our neighbours.”

“Remembering his service as an Officer in the Royal Navy: we pray for all the Queen’s Forces, and especially for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, at home and abroad: protect them in every danger, that they may perform their duties with courage and perseverance, respecting the dignity of every human being.”

The Chaplain General also focused on Prince Philip’s attention and commitment to youth everywhere: 

“In remembering The Duke of Edinburgh’s great concern for the young people of this world and its leaders of tomorrow, we give thanks for the thousands of young lives that have been shaped and moulded by the Commonwealth Study Conferences and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. May young people around the world persevere in the face of challenges, and embrace diversity as a strength.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in both English and French on Prince Philip’s dedication to duty, to the Commonwealth, and to The Queen. He mentioned the Duke of Edinburgh award, and what it has meant to people here. The Prime Minister also emphasised that Canada has lost a friend, as well as a supporter. 

A string quartet from Appleby College played a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace”. The College was chosen because of the school’s close connection with the Duke of Edinburgh Award. 

David Johnston, the former Governor General of Canada, spoke about Prince Philip’s personality. He described the Duke as “gracious, down to earth, and enthusiastic” and “living a life of privilege, but free of arrogance”. He shared a memory of a visit to Balmoral where The Queen invited Johnston’s wife to visit the stables but she didn’t have appropriate shoes. Prince Philip quickly realised the issue, and after looking at her feet, suggested she wear a pair of The Queen’s shoes. Prince Philip knew that he was meant to solve The Queen’s problems. 

Johnston also spoke of the Prince’s dedication to the military, and how no matter what, his military commitments were of the utmost importance to him. Among the music played was “I Vow to Thee My Country”, written by the British Sir Cecil Spring Rice, in honour of the commitment and sacrifices made by the Armed Forces. 

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com