Queen Elizabeth II has passed away at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Queen Elizabeth II has passed away at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Red Deerians react to death of Queen Elizabeth II

She was 96 years old

Central Albertans are reacting with sorrow following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

England’s longest-reigning monarch has died at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace announced on social media Thursday.

Elizabeth II became Queen Feb. 6, 1952, after the death of her father King George VI. Her formal coronation was June 2, 1953. This past June, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne – she was the first monarch to ever celebrate that milestone.

Red Deer’s Jan Underwood grew up in Bradford, which is a city in West Yorkshire, England.

“I’m profoundly saddened. For all of my life I’ve known her as my queen,” said Underwood, who moved to Canada in the early-1980s.

“She was quite devoted and determined, and wanted the best for her people – for her Commonwealth. I know … the people in England are in a massive state mourning right now because they love her. She’s been a good leader and demonstrated such strength through all of the ups and downs of being a monarch.”

Underwood said she has already seen several posts on social media from people she knows from her home country expressing sadness.

Queen Elizabeth II made more than 20 official visits to Canada. She made six official visits to Alberta, including one to Red Deer in June 1990, when she officially opened the pediatrics ward at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Underwood recalled being there for the Queen’s visit to Red Deer.

“I got a glimpse (of her) – I probably got closer than I did in England. I saw the car go by and saw her face,” she said.

Historian and Red Deer Coun. Michael Dawe said that was the only personal appearance Queen Elizabeth II made in Red Deer.

While in the city she unveiled a plaque and also presented the first Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship in neonatology and pediatrics ($1,000) to Judy Raabis, then clinical coordinator at the pediatric unit. This scholarship is awarded annually to this day.

There was also a banquet held for the Queen during her visit at the Capri Hotel, which is now the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, hosted by Premier Don Getty.

“A large number of people came out to see her when she was here. She was a very highly respected person. She had a lot of dignity and comported herself very well,” said Dawe.

Dawe said he felt “profound sadness” after hearing about the Queen’s passing.

“I noticed on the news this morning that things seemed to be getting pretty serious and that members of the family had been summoned to go to Balmoral sooner than later,” said Dawe.

“That was a warning sign that it had become quite serious quite quickly. It was only two days that she swore in the new British prime minister. She was working right up until almost the very end. That’s another thing she was known for: her very strong sense of duty.”

The City of Red Deer extended its condolences to the Royal Family on Thursday. Additionally, flags at City Hall were lowered to half mast in recognition of the Queen’s passing.

“It is a sad and historic day as we join the Commonwealth and the world in mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said Mayor Ken Johnston.

“On behalf of city council and the citizens of Red Deer, we extend our condolences the Royal Family and express our gratitude for Her Majesty’s many years of extraordinary public service and incredible leadership.”

Red Deerians who wish to provide their condolences can do so in the Book of Condolences available at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch starting Friday.

Red Deer-Lacombe MLA also expressed his sadness on social media following the Queen’s passing.

“This actually breaks my heart because I do have much respect and admiration for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She’s the only queen I have ever known in my entire life. My heart is heavy for this incredible loss,” said Calkins.


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