Esteem for the Queen from a former Canadian tour guide in the UK

In May 2007, just over 15 years ago, I graduated from York University and quickly moved to London on a working holiday visa.

Within weeks I had been interviewed and hired as a tour guide for the Big Bus Company. A 21-year-old Canadian is now reportedly leading tours from the top of a bus in (arguably) the biggest city in the world. Those looking for an English-speaking guide to the Queen would be disappointed. But what I lacked in accent, I made up for with enthusiasm.

I have always been fascinated by London and as far back as I can remember, the Royal Family and the Queen have piqued my curiosity. I remember waking up at 3am to attend Princess Diana’s funeral at Westminster Abbey when I was 12 and collecting journals chronicling her life. On subsequent trips to London to visit my family, I always wanted to learn more about British history and the role of the monarchy within it.

Tourists from all over the world bought tickets for the bus tours. Although many wanted to know where to find the best fish and chips (the Fishcotheque, under Waterloo station), or how to pronounce Leicester Square (lester Square), everyone wanted to know more about the queen.

“Why corgis? She fell in love with them when she was a child.

“What is his middle name? She has two: Alexandra Mary.

“What’s in her purse?” Probably some lipstick, a telephone and a hook she puts under the tables to hang her purse.

“Who is her favorite child?” Prince Andrew.

“Why did she build Windsor Castle so close to Heathrow Airport? Isn’t it noisy with all the planes flying overhead? Rolling eyes.

“Why are there no license plates on the Queen’s cars?” She owns the roads.

Fellow Canadians, Europeans and citizens of Commonwealth countries are more familiar with the concept of royalty and the role of the Queen. But it’s the Americans who have always made me laugh and smile with their questions and their fascination.

Less familiar with the role and nature of the monarchy, many Americans saw the Queen as a figurehead akin to fairytale royalty, seated on her throne at Buckingham Palace, waving her loyal subjects in her court a par one, in Solomonic form, awarding honors and making critical decisions. They were puzzled when I explained how the Queen spent her summers picnicking at Balmoral, hiking, driving her own Land Rover without bodyguards, sparingly using tupperware to keep her cereal fresh and washing up after Prince Philip finished his family barbecue.

The day she and Prince Philip walked past our tour bus was a day to remember. My advice was phenomenal.

But everyone came to London to learn something and when you get to know London, you get to know the Queen. Royal warrants adorn the shops where she shops, the streets of Crown land have wreaths on the lampposts, proving that she owns them. She smiles at you from postcards and tea towels, and the city where kings and queens have ruled for a millennium was her home. Indeed, she had been queen longer than most people on earth are alive. A public royal, she has always represented her country and her role with honour.

It was through the eyes of these tourists that I learned how the Queen was perceived internationally. Mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, stateswoman, living legend and giant of history, she was everything to everyone and, as French President Macron recently remarked, she represented ” a feeling of eternity.

Returning to Canada after my year abroad, I enrolled in law school at the University of Windsor (her last name). There the Queen’s presence in my life continued – Regina v. Accused, Queen in right of Canada, Her Majesty’s Government — she was not just a figurehead. She was head of government – ​​of many governments – and served her duties diligently for more than seven decades. As my solicitor’s certificate notes, I was called “to practice at the Bar of Her Majesty’s Courts” in the “sixty-first year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.

It is hard to accept that we now live in post-Elizabethan times. However, she leaves her kingdoms far different from how she found them. The world is better for having known her, we are better for having ruled her over us, and her legacy will surely prosper in the capable hands of King Charles III (the first British royal to graduate from university, in 1970).

Adam Hummel is an immigration lawyer practicing in Toronto.