TORONTO — It was a poignant goodbye for the Queen and Prince Philip on Tuesday as they ended their nine-day visit to Canada that spanned three provinces.
Undaunted by the heat wave that’s engulfed Toronto, a large crowd of emotional well-wishers bid adieu to the royals during a departure ceremony on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature that included a 21-gun salute.
Thousands of people cheered for the Queen as she greeted the crowd, which strained to catch a glimpse of the monarch as she ambled across the lawn, seemingly oblivious to the searing heat.
Wearing a raspberry pink Stewart Parvin coat over a lime and pink dress with matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, an upbeat Queen smiled and waved to the crowds as they clapped, whooped and hollered.
Some waved British flags, others hoisted corgis — the Queen’s favourite dog — aloft in a last-ditch effort to attract her attention.
A few were lucky.
Stefani Konidis and her nieces, who stood outside on the lawn to offer white roses to the Queen, met the monarch.
“Who can say no to three beautiful girls standing in the heat trying to give her flowers?” Konidis said afterwards.
“And she was very gracious. It was really fun. The kids loved it. You know what? It’s something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives, no question.”
The monarch’s day at the legislature — commonly known as Queen’s Park — started with a quick visit to Lt. Gov. David Onley’s suite. There she met Chief Angus Toulouse of the Assembly of First Nations and admired the enormous portrait of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor, that hangs in Onley’s drawing room.
From there she was escorted out to the marble hallways of building’s west wing, where she was greeted by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who was unable to contain his unabashed admiration for the monarch during her tour of the province.
The two seemed jovial as they strolled down the hallway, both smiling and chatting as McGuinty introduced her to visiting dignitaries. “Your Majesty, our house is your house,” the premier told her in his speech.
“It’s been my privilege to accompany her Majesty at a number of public events, but I can’t believe the size of the crowds that I’ve been drawing,” McGuinty joked.
But as the Queen took her seat on the stage in the legislature’s main foyer, McGuinty’s right hand darted out, hovering dangerously close to her back. The monarch seemed unaware of the gesture — a major breach of protocol had the premier actually touched her.
Outside, the Queen unveiled a plaque commemorating the 150th anniversary of the dedication of Queen’s Park by her great-grandfather before joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean for a walkabout in the blistering sun.
The ceremony concluded with the Queen’s inspection of the honour guard and a 21-gun salute before she departed for the airport.
There, the royals boarded a plane bound for New York City, where the Queen made her first address to the UN General Assembly in 53 years.