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A brush with royalty
« on: May 23, 2012, 07:00:37 PM »
A brush with royalty

By Matt Day, Niagara Falls Review

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 2:53:45 EDT PM

Mike Blais, Romeo Daley, Daniel Rodrique stand together before heading to Toronto on Tuesday May 23, 2012 for the 1812 Commemorative Military Muster at Fort York Armoury, an event in which Prince Charles took part in. Photo courtesy of Daniel Rodrique

A nod from His Royal Highness is a gesture Fort Erie’s Romeo Daley won’t soon forget.

On Tuesday, the Korean War veteran, who celebrated his 80th birthday the day prior to witnessing Prince Charles participate at the 1812 Commemorative Military Muster at Fort York Armoury, was joined by Niagara Falls residents Daniel Rodrique and Mike Blais for the event.

It was the first time Daley had ever been close to royalty.

“It would have been nice if we had the opportunity to talk or to say a few words even, but I’m just very, very happy to have been selected to go,” said Daley, the president of the Korean War Veterans Association. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing I think and it was great to see them.”

More than 1,000 people packed the armoury, including Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay and Canadian Forces Defence Staff Chief Walter Natynczyk, to honour the relationship of the Royal Family to Canadian regiments.

While the prince and the duchess only walked within 10 feet of the three local men and no official recognition was given, Daley said he took solace in the fact the Royal Couple looked his way as they stood in single file with other Korean War veterans.

Rodrique, producer of the documentary series The Veterans, said it was his first run-in with royalty as well.

“You could tell by their body language and how they carried themselves they were very down to earth. They were very friendly, nothing pretentious about them, and they had that warmth to them which was quite refreshing.”

Blais, president and founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said he felt honoured to be part of the celebrations.

He said the hours of waiting in line outside in the sun were worth the 45-minute ceremony, which included a passing of a commemorative medal and banner to the prince as well as Charles saluting veterans and active soldiers as they marched by.

“The troops put on an excellent show for the prince and really represented Canada well,” he said. “It’s kind of sad (the Royal Couple) didn’t walk the entire length of the gallery where the visitors were, but it was an exciting afternoon.”

Charles and Camilla are visiting Canada as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth, on the throne. They visited Regina on Wednesday.

Twitter: @Matt_Review