King Charles will soon be crowned in a glittering ceremony filled with pomp and protocol at London’s Westminister Abbey.
King Charles has visited Manitoba on four occasions, as Prince Charles.
The first visit was in 1970, when he visited along with his late parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, and younger sister Princess Anne, as part of a royal visit to mark Manitoba’s 100th anniversary.
The trip took them to Churchill, Thompson, Gillam, Flin Flon, Norway House, Swan River, The Pas, Dauphin, Clear Lake, Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Oakville, Winnipeg, Carman, Beausejour and Lower Fort Garry.
On that trip, the royals also visited the Bailey family farm, a potato farm near Carberry, as an escape from the spotlight and the busy schedule of a royal tour.
Brian Bailey remembers it well.
“(Charles) knew our friend Reggie — we knew him as Uncle Reggie — was hard of hearing, so he made sure he raised his voice and chatted and it was a real pleasure to see the grin on Reggie’s face as he was speaking to Prince Charles,” Bailey told Global News.
The royals spent the day enjoying a backyard garden party and riding the horses around the farm. The RCMP had brought horses from the RCMP Musical Ride for the royals to use.
“I recall that both Princess Anne and Prince Charles took their horses on one big, long, fast ride, and caused a little consternation on the part of the RCMP because the horses were not used to having that done to them,” Bailey laughed. “They had a good, fast ride and there was a little concern about how they might be the next day but everything worked out.”
Bailey said Charles and Anne, who were in their late teens and early 20s at the time, acted just like two ordinary Manitoba farm kids, even racing each other back to their vehicle before driving back to the royal train, where they were staying.
“I am pretty sure Prince Charles won that race,” Bailey recalled.
Charles returned in 1979, visiting Winnipeg, and was back again on a solo trip in 1996, travelling to Winnipeg and Churchill. The 1996 visit was timed with the formation of Wapusk National Park, one of the largest polar bear habitats in the world. The former Prince of Wales’s most recent visit to Manitoba was in 2014 along with Camilla.
Dwight MacAulay, chief of protocol for the province of Manitoba at the time, helped organize the 1996 visit and was in charge of the most recent visit.
During the 2014 visit, the royals visited Red River College (now RRC Polytech), the Royal Aviation Museum, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Assiniboine Park Zoo, where Charles fed Hudson the polar bear.
“He said he was offered two different sets of tongs to feed the polar bear. Hudson, I believe, was the polar bear he fed, and he said he chose the longer set of tongs just to avoid the bear being that close,” MacAulay chuckled.
“I was there for that and he strikes me as someone who has a very good sense of humour.”
MacAulay also recently travelled to London for a reception for the Royal Victorian Order, where he met Charles as King.
“I was very impressed with then Prince Charles and King Charles,” MacAulay told Global News.
“He’s a person who has been ahead of his time — ahead of the curve, really, in many respects — with respect to climate change, urban sprawl, sustainable development, organic farming. He’s also a very strong supporter of the arts. And he’s a person I think we’re very fortunate to have as our head of state.
MacAulay noted the Prince’s Trust, a charitable organization, has done extensive work in helping preserve Indigenous languages and supporting youth and young entrepreneurs in Canada.
“I’m a fan of King Charles, and I think Canadians are going to be very impressed with King Charles,” he said.
MacAulay says he’ll be getting up early Saturday to watch the Coronation.
“I think it’s going to be a very historic, very special moment for the Commonwealth, very special moment for the world, I think in many respects, and certainly for Canada,” he said.
“He’s been preparing for this role, virtually his whole adult life, and I think Canadians are going to be very pleasantly surprised and pleased with the role of King Charles as our head of state.”
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