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Vernon residents fondly remember lunch with Her Majesty

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were in town in 1983 to celebrate Vernon’s 90th anniversary
Claire Wickett took this photo of Queen Elizabeth II outside the Vernon Recreation Centre in March 1983, while sitting atop the shoulders of her dad, Ian Wickett. The Queen and Prince Philip visited Vernon to help the city celebrate its 90th anniversary. (Salmon Arm Observer Collection, archives @ R.J. Haney Heritage Village Museum)

Nancy Hanson thought she may have committed an unthinkable transgression when lunching with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.

The wife of then-Vernon mayor, the late Lyall Hanson, was attending a special luncheon at the Vernon Recreation Complex with the Queen, who visited the city with her husband, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, in March of that year to help the city commemorate its 90th anniversary.

“I remember I was wearing the same colour dress as her (magenta) and I thought I had made a faux pas,” laughed Hanson, reflecting on the time she met the Queen, who died Thursday, Sept. 8, in London at age 96.

“I was introduced to her. Lyall sat beside her and I was seated beside (late) Sen. Len Marchand. She was very pleasant, and very easy to talk to. She mostly visited with Lyall and Len.”

Hanson’s son, Mike Campbell, had parked himself outside the Vernon Recreation Centre, climbing a tree near the entrance in order to get photos of the visiting royalty.

Also attending the luncheon that day was Jim Alveberg and his wife, Lydia. Alveberg was the city’s director of parks and recreation in 1983. He would later become city administrator.

“It was quite a thing to be in the same room with her and to have lunch with her,” said Alveberg, who would later become neighbours of the Hansons in the B.X. “I remember thinking how close we were. We were arm’s length from her when she walked by. It was an incredible feeling when she was presented to the crowd.”

One of the things Alveberg recalls about that day was how the security wasn’t much of a deal as it would be if she appeared in Vernon in, say, 2013.

“I remember they checked underneath the floor,” he said. “They also walked into the pool area.”

The Queen and Prince Philip had been on a tour of the U.S. west coast when they popped up to B.C. and visited Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Vernon, Kamloops and New Westminster.

READ MORE: Queen Elizabeth II, longest-reigning monarch in British history, dies at 96

READ MORE: Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy to live on in B.C.: Premier John Horgan

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Canadian flags in Vernon and Coldstream at such places as Vernon City Hall and RCMP station (pictured), and Okanagan College, were at half-mast Thursday, Sept. 8, to signal the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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