When Brian Bailey signed the Queen’s condolence book this week in Brandon, the retired teacher added a special recollection: The time the Queen spent two days relaxing with his family on their potato farm.
It was July, 1970, and the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, was on the Centennial Celebration tour of Manitoba.
The royal party wanted a break from the official schedule, and spent two days unwinding and riding horses on the Baileys’ 2,000-acre farm outside Carberry.
“It was kind of break from the tour. They didn’t want to have anybody around,” Mr. Bailey, 77, recalls in an interview. “It was so relaxed it was almost unbelievable that you were talking to people who were known around the world.”
He remembers fondly the Queen resting on a lawn chair in his garden, drinking tea and talking amicably with his mother, Nora, who served the royal visitors homemade coffee cake.
“The Queen and my mom had quite a long chatter and they just talked about family things, their family and their kids,” he said.
A month before, Martin Charteris, private secretary to the Queen, had paid a visit to the farm “for a dry run,” Mr. Bailey said, including sampling the cake to see if the royals would like it.
Their security detail kept a discreet distance during the visit from the Royal Family, who were “just enjoying being free,” Mr. Bailey said.
“There was no issue of having to wear a crown or driving in a limousine,” he said. “Their conversation was so casual. The Queen … was quizzing mum and dad on the farm and the history of the farm.”
Mr. Bailey recalls how Prince Charles talked for some time to the family’s hired man, Reggie Haines. He had come to Canada from England as a 12-year-old Barnardo’s orphan to live with Mr. Bailey’s grandparents, remaining with the family until he died aged 90.
Mr. Bailey said all the royals had been told Mr. Haines was hard of hearing, so took pains to speak loudly so he could hear them.
Both Mr. Bailey and the Queen, who carried a camera slung over her shoulder, took many photos of the break – so many that Prince Philip quipped that the Canadian national anthem should be restyled “O Camera.”
Mr. Bailey is including one of the photos he took of their family together in condolence cards he is writing this week to King Charles and the Princess Royal.
He said that when he heard of the Queen’s death, “the memories just flooded back.”