Former metropolis leaders replicate on Queen Elizabeth’s final Edmonton go to

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May 25, 2005. Queen Elizabeth II during her walk-about with Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel at Winston Churchill Square on May 25, 2005. Perry Mah/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency May 25, 2005. Queen Elizabeth II during her walk-about with Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel at Winston Churchill Square on May 25, 2005. Perry Mah/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency Photo by Perry Mah /Perry Mah/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agenc

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When former mayor Stephen Mandel met Queen Elizabeth II during his last-ever visit to Edmonton in 2005, he had been in office for just seven months.

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The Queen, on the other hand, had 53 years’ experience on the throne.

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After she died last week, having reigned for a total of seven decades, Mandel said meeting her was a high point of his comparatively paltry nine years as mayor.

“I’ve had a chance to meet some other leaders that are well known, but she was by far the biggest thrill,” he said.

“Seventy years — it’s not like she was a two-term or three-term mayor.”

One of the final days of the Queen’s trip through Alberta and Saskatchewan to mark the provinces’ centennial celebrations included a stop at Edmonton city hall, where Mandel greeted her, introduced her to the rest of city council and walked with her through Churchill Square. A crowd of 5,000 people showed up to see her.

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Preparations for her time in Edmonton had been underway before Mandel ever became mayor, and he credits city staff for handling the hard work, helping with the enormous co-ordination between the city, royal officials, and the provincial and federal governments.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel (right) walks with Queen Elizabeth II as Prince Philip (back left) and Lynn Mandel follow as they tour City Hall during a walkabout in Edmonton, Alta., Wednesday May 25, 2005. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel (right) walks with Queen Elizabeth II as Prince Philip (back left) and Lynn Mandel follow as they tour City Hall during a walkabout in Edmonton, Alta., Wednesday May 25, 2005. Photo by Darryl Dyck /SunMedia

“My goal was to make sure I was out of the way,” Mandel said.

“She’s very warm. It’s not like it’s arduous or too difficult. I mean, I just made sure my hands were behind my back and didn’t touch her, because you get chastised for that,” he said.

Former city councilor Michael Phair said council was getting regular updates in private about how the events would be organized and security measures before the Queen arrived. Then, a team of staff, including numerous people tasked with handling her wardrobe, arrived in Edmonton about a week ahead of her.

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“It’s something that I would never have contemplated happening ever, meeting the Queen here in Edmonton,” Phair said.

Phair recalls the level of detail and organization that went into something as simple as making sure children with flowers in Churchill Square could get up close enough to deliver them to the Queen — every move was quietly but precisely organized. He also remembers people showing up with corgi breed dogs in tow, well-known for being much loved by the Queen.

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  2. Queen Elizabeth II greets well-wishers during a walkabout outside of Edmonton City Hall on Wednesday, May 25, 2005.

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After greeting city council members, Queen Elizabeth also visited, at her request, the kids in the Hall Bistro, which was a work experience program for inner-city youth.

Mandel added he remembers, as a very young child, when the Queen visited his hometown of Windsor, Ontario, shortly after her reign began in the 1950s.

Half a century later, he was wearing the Edmonton chain of office, walking shoulder to shoulder with her. But he laughs that he just happened to be the mayor at the right time.

“She managed to survive with tremendous grace and class. Quite a remarkable woman.”

Photos and a book of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II have been set up at Edmonton City Hall, Friday Sept 9, 2022. Photo By David Bloom Photos and a book of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II have been set up at Edmonton City Hall, Friday Sept 9, 2022. Photo By David Bloom Photo by David Bloom /David Bloom/Postmedia

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