Queen Elizabeth lamprey
Dressed in a Tiffany-blue hat and colorful overcoat against the winter cold, she was greeted by well-wishers in the snow-covered town of King’s Lynn at an event planned to mark Accession Day, the anniversary of the day she became queen in 1952.
“I love that the monarchy is above politics and feel that the queen represents that best of all,” said Laura Skrzynski, a longtime admirer of Elizabeth who joined the crowd of about 150 people applauding the queen’s arrival. “She stands for integrity and respect and I am inspired by her faith. She has been a constant through all our lives.”
Accession Day is usually marked quietly because it also marks the anniversary of the death of Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. But it drew extra attention Monday because this year marks the queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. Only Queen Victoria had a longer reign.
Elizabeth said in a message to mark the occasion that she and her husband, Prince Philip, have been “deeply moved” to receive so many kind messages about her Diamond Jubilee.
“I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years,” she wrote in a message to the nation. “In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighborliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign.”
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain praised the queen’s “magnificent service,” thanking her for guiding the nation with “dignity and quiet authority.”
“Always dedicated, always resolute and always respected, she is a source of wisdom and continuity,” Cameron said. “All my life, and for the lives of most people in this country, she has always been there for us. Today, and this year, in the 60th anniversary of her reign, we have the chance to say thank you.”
The queen’s Diamond Jubilee will be marked with a series of regional, national and international events throughout 2012.
Over the course of 2012, members of the royal family — including Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge — will fan out across the globe and travel to Commonwealth countries including Canada, Jamaica and Belize.
The queen and Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, will stay closer to home, touring the U.K. from March to July. Philip, 90, was recently diagnosed with heart problems that may affect his future travel plans.
The 2012 Diamond Jubilee weekend will be held June 2-5, with the main highlight likely to be a huge pageant on the River Thames featuring a 1,000-strong flotilla. A gala concert is also planned.
Elizabeth expressed hope that the coming year will be a time to give thanks “for the great advances” since she took the throne and “look forward to the future with a clear head and warm heart.”
The city used to give the king a lamprey pie each year at Christmas. Since 1836, the pie has been baked for only the monarch's special occasions, such as the queen's coronation in 1953 and her silver and golden jubilee anniversaries.
Although lamprey used to be abundant in the Severn River near Gloucester, the creatures are now endangered and protected.
"It would be like us making a pie out of piping plover," an endangered shorebird in Michigan, Gaden said.
Gaden already has shipped 2 pounds of slimy Lake Huron lamprey, frozen, to Gloucester, but he is vacationing in England and will put on a tie and officially present the fish to the mayor May 4.
Sarrah Maccey of the Gloucester Folk Museum told BBC News that she and a chef will bake the pie, and she is researching ancient local recipes. One traditional 15th-Century recipe calls for the creature to be cooked in a sauce of wine, vinegar, cinnamon and its own blood, then baked in a tall crust.
Martin Kirby, a local journalist who took on the task of finding suitable lamprey for the occasion, said the piecrust is not supposed to be eaten and will be decorated with the city's coat of arms.
Gaden said he doesn't plan to eat any. No one knows for sure whether the queen will take a bite, either.
Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne after the death of her father, George VI, on Feb. 6, 1952. That makes 2012 her Diamond Jubilee, and the royal family is gearing up for festivities throughout the year. Will, Kate, and other members of the family will head to British Commonwealth countries like Canada and Belize; on the first weekend in June, celebrations will be held at home, including a 1,000-vessel flotilla on the Thames, reports the AP. The queen is ready to"look forward to the future with a clear head and warm heart," she writes.
Lampreys may look like some kind of terrible tentacle monsters, but they used to be a culinary delicacy, and Gloucester has a tradition of giving one to the monarch since the Middle Ages and intended to do so for the Diamond Jubilee. Unfortunately, lampreys were severely overfished in the UK and are now an endangered species.
The Great Lakes, however, have a surplus of the squiggly things, and representatives from the Fisheries Commission were only too happy to send over a couple pounds. They just wish they could have sent even more.
“We would prefer to send them truckloads of lamprey,” said Great Lakes Fisheries Commission spokesperson Mark Gaden to the Lampreys are an invasive species in the Great Lakes, where they’ve been attaching themselves to native fish like lake trout and sucking out all their insides. Poisons and traps work to control them to a certain extent, but lately lampreys been showing up in Lake Erie in swarms and so far poison hasn’t been helping. Maybe they just need to become a fashionable snack again.
Sarrah Maccey of the Gloucester Folk Museum has been researching recipes for lamprey pie and intends to cook the dish with the help of a chef. One recipe calls for the lampreys to be cooked in their own blood with vinegar and cinnamon, then baked into a crust.
Somehow, we suspect she is more looking forward to the 60-year-old
She is a flesh-and-blood symbol of Canadian heritage and history, a figurehead who helps to differentiate Canada from the United States, and a person who deserves to be admired and honoured on the 60th anniversary of her ascent to the throne.
“I think people recognize that there’s respect due for someone who has performed a difficult task for 60 years, and been pretty close to flawless,” said Robert Rooney, who serves on the executive of the Calgary chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada.She has tremendous personal qualities that have allowed her to, essentially, never put a foot wrong in a 60-year reign. And at the same time, she’s maintained quite carefully a private aspect to her life.”
Rooney said that the public doesn’t know many personal details about the woman whose official diamond jubilee was commemorated across the Commonwealth on Monday.
But he said Canadians need to realize their monarchical system of government is one of the things that makes this country special.
“If you ever try to explain to an American the difference between Canada and the United States, all you have to do is show them a coin,” Rooney said.
Monarchist League of Canada Calgary chapter chair William Greene agrees.
“With a monarchical system of government, if the prime minister falls tomorrow, we still have someone we can look up to,” Greene said. “Much in contrast to the United States, where when Nixon (left) office, there was no one to look up to. The Queen and the monarchy have always been removed from politics, so they’re not swayed by one party or another, and that’s important.”
Greene, who also serves as padre for Calgary’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 264, helped to organize the diamond jubilee dinner that took place at that branch Monday and featured a presentation by Mount Royal University military historian Stephane Guevremont.
Guevremont told the Herald that as a French-Canadian, he has reservations about the monarchy.
“For us, the Queen represents an institution that we fought with blood,” he said.
However, Guevremont said that as a historian he admires the role Elizabeth played during the Second World War — when as a young princess she served in the military as a driver and mechanic.
“She deserves our respect, because she stayed in London during the Blitz and the bombing of the Second World War. She is a warrior queen,” Guevremont said.
In Calgary, the bells on the City Hall clock tower, as well as the carillon at the Calgary Tower, chimed 60 times at 6 p.m. Monday. Each chime marked one year of the Queen’s reign.
“Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, is the Queen of Canada as a Commonwealth country,” said Catherine Humeny, co-ordinator of protocol for the City of Calgary. “We were invited by the government of Alberta, along with other municipalities, to ring bells at 6 p.m. on February 6 to mark her ascension to the throne, and we were delighted to participate.”
A book for signing will be available at Calgary’s McDougall Centre all year for members of the public who wish to send a congratulatory message to the Queen.