Former Tewksbury swimmer calls Queen’s funeral ‘personal’ and proud to represent Canada – Penticton Western News
Former Canadian swimming star Mark Tewksbury was among thousands of people to honor Queen Elizabeth II at her funeral in London on Monday.
A funeral that was “personal” to him.
Tewksbury, a three-time Olympic medalist and member of the Order of Canada, was among a list of dignitaries announced last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who attended the funeral.
In what he described as a day of “mixed emotions”, Tewksbury said he felt more connected to the Queen as a person.
“I’m a person who really respects the Queen for her duty and her service and for giving back and representing different charities and organizations, and I’ve tried to live my life that way,” Tewksbury told The Canadian Press. . “So I took it (as) more of a personal connection, as opposed to a connection to the institution of the monarchy.”
The 54-year-old was part of a Canadian delegation that included actress Sandra Oh, performing artist Gregory Charles and Cross of Valor recipient Leslie Arthur Palmer.
Contrary to Tewksbury’s expectations, protocols were not as strict at funerals.
“I thought it was going to be extraordinarily stiff,” he said. “There was a lot of protocol, but it wasn’t overdone. We went to a rehearsal (for) those of us in the honors parade on Saturday. And it was a little relaxed. You just had to have the correct identification and the correct colored path to enter certain areas, but it was less than I expected.
“We were all very clear about what we had to wear. If I’m a civilian, I had to wear a mourning costume or a dark costume because I have a certain Order of Canada and medals. There’s just a certain protocol as to what you wear on which part of your costumes. …Who happens when and the order of things, and that was pretty much to be expected.
The group toured all of Westminster Abbey before turning back, with the Tewksbury group seated near the front of the west entrance to the Abbey allowing them to see everyone arrive for the rest of the funeral .
With the presence of people from different parts of the Commonwealth, there were different methods of honoring the Queen. Some treated it as a celebration of her life, while others solemnly mourned her. According to Tewksbury, the city of London was “buzzing” with people.
Arriving at the cathedral a few minutes after 10 a.m. (GMT), the service began at 11 a.m., with the group leaving the cathedral shortly before 12:30 p.m.
“Today was definitely like a change of tone in a nice, very respectful way. It’s kind of sad – quiet, calm and peaceful,” Tewksbury said.
“It was really a very good performance. It wasn’t too long and honored the Queen beautifully, both as a person and as a monarch.
Besides being “as great an honor as I would have hoped for”, Tewksbury was proud to be able to represent Canada with the diversity within the delegation.
“We had a gay man, a black man and an Asian woman. We were really diverse. We were probably among the youngest in the profession of honor. And so it’s really, really wonderful to represent our country in this way.
—Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press