OTTAWA—Ever since Tara Reckahn was a small girl, she’s been fascinated with the royal family so when the chance came to make the trip to Ottawa for the Canada Day long-weekend and the chance to glimpse (or maybe even meet) the royal newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Kate, she jumped at the chance.
Ms. Reckahn and her mother, Sherry Case, left Tehkummah last Wednesday evening and drove all night to Ottawa, arriving at the home of Tavis Case, Ms. Reckahn’s brother, at 5 am. A short rest later and the pair were lined up at the National War Memorial in the heart of downtown Ottawa at 9:30 am with a front row view.
“I didn’t think we were leaving until Thursday, but Tara called me and said ‘I have a copy of the itinerary and they’re doing a walk-about on Thursday!’ so I spent the day rushing around and she packed as soon as she got home from work and off we went,” laughed Ms. Case.
But it was all worth it, they said, for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the newlyweds. The women were lined up to the left of the war memorial and before long they knew the couple had arrived. “A shout went up from the crowd when they got there,” said Ms. Reckahn. “They walked right past us.”
The royalist noted that she was so much in awe of the couple that she failed to get the photo she wanted, she just couldn’t stop staring.
“The press were right in front of them, walking backwards to take their photos and all you could hear was the ‘click, click, click’ from the cameras,” Ms. Reckahn recalled.
As is standard procedure for these types of visits, the royal couple split up to meet and greet those on the left and right sides of the memorial with Kate designated the left.
“There was a couple with three young children, probably between the ages of 6 and 11 standing behind us,” Ms. Case noted. “The parents asked us if they could stand in front of us so they could see the couple. We said of course and put them ahead and when Kate came over she made a point of speaking to the children, asking them their names and their age and shaking their hands. She was so kind.”
The mother and daughter also had the chance to shake the hand of the duchess too and, although they admit they have not been swept up in the hype of the wedding—they were there to see Wills—that moment with Kate did change their perspective.
“She was gorgeous,” added Ms. Reckahn.
The following day, Canada Day, the pair trekked to Parliament Hill for the festivities, but didn’t get there early enough to beat the crowds or get too close to the newlyweds but, Ms. Reckahn said, they did get to hear William’s address to Canadians, and forced themselves through the crowd as best they could.
Ms. Reckahn said that William is definitely her favourite prince, “and seeing the way he talks to the people, it reminds me of his mom (Princess Diana),” she said.
Ms. Case said her daughter was first bitten by the royal bug when, as a child, she read a book on Princess Diana and after that, she was hooked.
“We were at Brown’s store once (Carl’s Trading Post in South Baymouth) and she saw a record of the narrative of the wedding of Diana and Charles,” Ms. Case remembered. “She had a five dollar bill and she just had to have it and pay for it with her own money. She’s been collecting ever since.”
Ms. Reckahn is currently compiling a collection from Queen Victoria right up the wedding of William and Kate and picked up a couple of hand-drawn wedding sketches while in Ottawa.
This isn’t the family’s first brush with royalty, either. In 1991, during Charles and Diana’s visit to Sudbury, Ms. Case took her daughter to meet the royal couple that she adored. “During the reception, we stood on the wrong side of the line and Tara didn’t get a chance to meet Diana,” she recalled. “She cried and cried so we headed to the cancer centre where we knew they were heading next.”
Having missed the entrance, someone alerted them to the rear exit where they knew the royals would be leaving. Patiently waiting, Ms. Reckahn got her chance and presented Diana with a bouquet of flowers and a handshake, much to the princess’ delight.
“The 1991 experience was one of the most special times of our lives,” said Ms. Case.
The mother and daughter noted the atmosphere surrounding the Ottawa visit, meeting people from around Canada and beyond. “There were lots of happy, smiling people,” she said. “It felt like the Country Fest for royal watchers.”
“We met people with cottages on Manitoulin and some who were even related to the family,” Ms. Case said. “It’s really overwhelming to be with a crowd of royal watchers. They (the royals) are history—a part of who we are and where we come from. To be with that many like-minded people and to have the chance to meet Kate is really special.”
“We had such a good time and it was a good thing for she and I to share together, it was quite the experience,” Ms. Case added.