The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is placed at Westminster Hall in London, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Nariman El-Mofty, Pool

Former PMs, Canadian celebrities to attend queen’s funeral in London

Retired swim star Tewksbury honoured to be part of delegation for queen’s funeral

Canada is sending 15 delegates to the queen’s state funeral in London, England, on Monday, while celebrities will take part in a procession of recipients of national honours.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and their spouses are leading the Canadian delegation, which will include former governors general Michaëlle Jean and David Johnston as well as former prime ministers Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.

They will be joined at Westminster Abbey by Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron, as well as the Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charette, and Canada’s High Commissioner to the U.K., Ralph Goodale.

Meanwhile, former Olympian Mark Tewksbury, musician Gregory Charles, actress Sandra Oh and decorated coast guard Leslie Arthur Palmer will take part in the procession.

Three-time Olympic swimming medallist Tewksbury says he is “very honoured” to be part of the Canadian delegation attending Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday.

“It’s such an honour, I was very touched (to be invited),” Tewksbury said.

The 54-year-old said while their “paths crossed a number of times,” he only met the late queen once when she came through the athletes village at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

“I had that famous minute of small talk,” said Tewksbury, who won a pair of gold medals each at the 1986 and 1990 Commonwealth Games. “I must admit, I thought ‘Oh, what’s the big deal?’ Because I’d seen it from afar, at the Commonwealth Games in ‘86, and she was often in the stands and swimming. But she just had that presence. It’s such a cliche, but I suddenly was tongue-tied, butterflies. There was a presence. She obviously wore her duty so incredibly well.”

The 54-year-old Tewksbury was in Manchester at a conference when the queen died on Sept. 8 at 96. The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle had given the opening address at the conference four days earlier.

“So, I felt the sadness. And then our event got immediately cancelled, because that’s royal protocol. I’m still in a little bit of shock, to be honest,” said Tewksbury, who had flown home to Calgary after the cancellation.

Tewksbury was flying to Ottawa on Thursday evening. The delegation, including members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and representatives of several regiments of the Canadian Armed Forces, were flying together from Ottawa on Friday.

The state funeral will be attended by 2,000 guests. The queen’s coffin will be carried through the historic heart of London, from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch near Buckingham Palace on a horse-drawn gun carriage with King Charles III and other royals walking behind.

The funeral on Monday is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. local time, or 6 a.m. ET.

In Ottawa, a national commemorative ceremony Monday at Christ Church Cathedral will include former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark.

— Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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