My Royal Command Performance

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine have been touring Canada. While reading about the tour, I learned that they visited Carcross, in the Yukon.


Carcross (Photo by Yukon Information Bureau)

I daresay none of you had heard of Carcross before the royal tour.  There’s no reason you should have. The settlement is home to fewer than 500 people, and it’s inaccessible as hell. Prior to the royal tour, its sole claim to fame is that it’s the eastern terminus of the Yukon and White Pass railway … which most of you have never heard of, either.

But many years ago my wife and I once applied for teaching jobs in Carcross, so I had at least heard of it. We didn’t get the jobs and I never went near the place.

So then why am I bothering to tell you this?  Because it reminded me of a previous royal tour in which I played (literally) a minor part.


The band shell on a quiet summer evening

In May, 1986, Prince Charles and Princess Diana came to Kamloops as part of an eight-day tour of British Columbia. At that time, I was principal oboist of the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra. We were part of the entertainment, and performed in the Riverside Park band shell. (I’ve been  known to facetiously call this my ‘royal command performance’.)

At one point, the prince and princess set up in front of the orchestra for a reception line. Although a great many people were standing and milling about, I got a pretty good look at the royal couple from perhaps fifty feet away. I was busy playing at the time, so I couldn’t sit and stare, unfortunately. The main thing I remember is that Princess Diana appeared to be as tall or taller than Prince Charles.

The prince and princess in Kelowna during the 1986 royal tour. (Photo courtesty Canadian Press.)

The prince and princess in Kelowna during the 1986 royal tour. (CP Photo/Ron Poling.)

That is the full extent of my brushes with royalty. It wasn’t much, but it nonetheless makes a nice memory. Thanks, Carcross, for bringing it to mind.


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