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The Legacy

Children scatter flower petals in the path of Edward,
Prince of Wales on the lawn of the Legislature,
Victoria, September 24, 1919

Dotted across the province are innumerable plaques, cornerstones, trees and statues, documenting the official visits of members of the Royal Family. Some are well-known, such as the large statue of Queen Victoria on the grounds of the Legislature in Victoria. The Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VIII, laid the first stone at the base of this monument to his great-grandmother in 1919 when he visited the capital as part of a two-month tour of the country.

The Duke of Connaught lays the cornerstone of the
new Provincial Library at the Legislature, 1912

Earlier, in 1912, his great-uncle the Duke of Connaught laid the cornerstone for the new Provincial Library at the Legislature, with the assistance of the architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury and E.O.S. Scholefield, the Provincial Librarian and Archivist. These occasions were an opportunity for large numbers of the public to view the royals. They were also opportunities for politicians to draw attention to the latest engineering or architectural project sponsored by the provincial government. During her 1958 visit, Princess Margaret was invited to open the new floating bridge in Premier W.A.C. Bennett’s home town, Kelowna. The ceremony involved cutting a ribbon, unveiling two plaques and then finally driving across the bridge.

Motion Picture: Princess in wonderland

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160 X 112 pixels, 1333 K file size

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Princess Margaret opening the floating bridge in Kelowna, July 19, 1958, with audio

Excerpt from V1986:42 REF

One of the more practical legacies to the province also arose from this 1958 visit. Princess Margaret was presented with the deed to Portland Island as a gift to commemorate her visit, but a few years later she returned the island to the province and it eventually became Princess Margaret Marine Park.

Letter from Kensington Palace Private Secretary
Major Francis Legh to the Lieutenant-Governor
regarding the disposition of Portland Island, July 5, 1965
GR-1671, Box 1 File 1

Provincial Secretary records (in GR-1671) show that although the Princess had offered to return it on permanent loan to the province by 1961, the government of the day was not able to commit to its development as a park until 1966. Other issues such as the loss of the original deed and sheep pasturing on the island are discussed in the file, and were the source of much confidential and diplomatic correspondence between Kensington Palace, the Lieutenant-Governor, and the Premier.

Jade jewelry presented to
members of the Royal Family
marking their 1971 visit to British Columbia

Most of the gifts given to the Royal Family return with them to Britain – in the course of her state visits around the world the Queen has received over 1,500 official gifts. British Columbia’s gift to the Queen in 1971 was a necklace and earrings made of British Columbia jade. As part of her Jubilee Year celebrations, a selection of these state gifts were on display at Buckingham Palace from August 5 to September 29, 2002.