Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Today, Shawnigan marks the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest serving monarch. She also served as Queen of Canada for 70 years, given our country’s Commonwealth status.

The Queen held a special place in her heart for Canada and made more than 23 formal visits to this country. Her last visit to Vancouver Island was in 1994 for the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, named after Queen Victoria (her great great grandmother).

Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited Shawnigan Lake School in 1969 and presented Duke of Edinburgh Awards to our students.

According to our archives, a former British Headmaster in the 1980s rather overzealously insisted on the regular singing in Chapel of “God Save the Queen.” In more rebellious times, the students mutinied as they understandably felt that we were a Canadian boarding school with our own beautiful national anthem. And to strike at the heart of the British Headmaster’s sense of identity, they stole Shawnigan’s framed picture of the Queen from the dining room.

What’s undoubtable and beyond debate is that Queen Elizabeth was a remarkable and extraordinary female leader in an ever-changing world – thoughtful, generous of spirit, discreet, dignified, and so much more.

And what an unenviable role she held – ever in the public gaze and under permanent scrutiny. And she did it with style, modesty and integrity – and she always delivered grace under fire.

She was the essence, the moral epicentre, and the true glue of the Commonwealth.

We will not see her like again.

She had a playful and mischievous side as well. In 2012 as part of the Opening Ceremony for the London Olympic games, the world saw James Bond arriving at Buckingham Palace to collect the Queen and take her via helicopter to the Olympic stadium. The "queen" double is then shown jumping out of the helicopter with a Union Jack parachute billowing behind her before making her official entrance into the Olympic stadium. Secretly filmed, her beloved corgis of course had cameo roles in the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AS-dCdYZbo

My Queen story is this:

For four years, I taught Princess Eugenie, the Queen’s granddaughter, English Literature at Marlborough College in England. One spring term, we were studying a play called the Woman in Black in class – a nightmare-inducing play about a haunted house. I booked tickets for us to see a production in Oxford. Eugenie put her hand up and quietly informed me that she was unable to attend. I immediately told her that it was a set text, essential viewing and we were all going together on this theatre outing – no excuses! She didn’t say anything else. However, another student nervously put his hand up in the back row and said: “Sir, I don’t think she wants to say it out of respect to you but it is actually her Grandmother’s 80th birthday on Thursday and there’s a family gathering at Buckingham Palace – and I think our Queen trumps you and the Woman in Black!”

I blushed immediately to the amusement of the class and put my head in my arms on the desk for a few moments! Eugenie’s approach spoke volumes for her character. And I felt like a complete muppet!

Our Canadian flag, here at Shawnigan Lake School in British Columbia, flies at half mast in her honour.

I shared this prayer with our students at lunchtime today:

Heavenly Father,

We thank you for the outstanding way in which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II dedicated her life to leading the Commonwealth of 54 countries from around the world throughout her seventy years of reign. May her example of integrity and service continue to influence and encourage people in every walk of life.


Richard D A Lamont
Head of Shawnigan Lake School
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.