RRMC Memories

visit-to-victoria

Recent Visit of Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko

I was intrigued to read Jim Standen’s comments in the article from the Vancouver Sun in the July edition of e-Veritas concerning the recent visit of their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan..I suspect that the Royal Roads oral history efforts played a considerable part in effecting Jim’s meeting with Their Imperial Majesties. In May 2008 I sent Karen Inkster, Alumni and Heritage Projects officer at Royal Roads University an e mail ” about some of the more memorable events that occurred at RRMC in 1951-53. The last couple of paragraphs of my email read as follows:

“Some of the lingering memories of Royal Roads evolve around royalty….the visit to Roads by then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1951; the death of King George VI in February 1952: and the visit in April 1953 of Crown Prince Akihito of Japan. During the period of mourning for King George VI the drums of the College band were muffled; ;i.e.wrapped in black cloth and snares disconnected. That sound is haunting and unforgettable.

During the Akihito visit three second year cadets – one navy, one army one air , and one member of the junior year were selected to dine with Crown Prince Akihito and his retinue at the Lieutenant Governor’s residence. Coincidentally, I was the second year army cadet who attended that dinner. ”

In January 2009 Karen e-mailed me that planning was in process for a return visit to Victoria by Emperor Akihito. She indicated that a planning officer from the provincial Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat had approached RRU for assistance in contacting cadets who had” had the opportunity to interact personally with the Crown Prince”.

In March 2009 the RRU archivist, Sarah Holland , sought my assistance in locating the cadets who had participated in the Lieutenant Governor’s welcoming dinner for the Crown Prince. I was able to tell her the names of my classmates who attended that dinner,( 3449 Jim Standen, 3340 Cliff Shook, and 3387 Jeff Upton), but had difficulty recalling the name of the first year cadet who represented both his College class and the youth of Victoria . In response to her request for the current addresses of my classmates. I sadly informed her of Cliff’s demise two years ago, but was unable to provide any information as to the current whereabouts of Jim Standen. However it was suggested to her that our Class Secretary, 3384 Charlie Kingston, may be able to help. The name and phone number of the RMC Club’s executive officer was also provided. A few days later an official of the BC Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat sent me a copy of the same photo that you used and asked that the cadets be identified. He was informed that Jim, the chap wearing the waist sash, was the senior cadet in the college hierarchy and thus was the individual selected to escort the Crown Prince during a tour of the College. grounds. Initially I wasn’t able to identify the cadet on the left hand side of the photo (off Akihito’s right shoulder)., but after reading Jim’s comments in the recent article I now realize that unidentified individual was 3494 Guy Lessard.

In late June I received an invitation from the Ambassador of Japan and Madam Nishida to attend a reception for their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, to be held in the Geat Hll of the National Gallery of Canada on Tuesday, July 7. On arrival at the National Art Gallery Mary and I were surprised and pleased to discover that we were included among the limited number of privileged couples to be presented to their Majesties. Emperor Akihito spoke only Japanes during the presentation, but Empress Michiko conversed with us in fluent English.

Our invitation to the reception included a notice that no cameras, video phones or other recording devices were permitted during the reception. There was, however, a small area near the presentation area set aside for (presumably) the media, and a military photographer (in Air Force uniform) also was noted circulating throughout the reception. To the best of my knowledge no photos of the reception were print6ed or broadcast on local media outlets. Judging by the features of some of the camera operators,I suspect much of the coverage was slated for home country use.

3387 Jeff Upton   [email protected]

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