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Queen Elizabeth II and Calgary’s Royal Connection

Whether a princess or queen, Her Royal Highness has always been a welcome visitor to our city as seen in this exhibit of archival documents and photos.

She has visited Calgary five times. Her first visit was in 1951 when she was Princess Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth’s last visit to Calgary was in 2005 as part of the Province of Alberta’s Centennial Celebration. You can join Her Royal Highness on these visits in person at the exhibit in the Municipal Atrium or you can take a photographic journey with her on this web exhibit.

Princess Elizabeth

Royal Duties

With the declining health of King George VI in 1951, Princess Elizabeth, the heir presumptive, began to take on more royal duties.

Increasing her royal duties included a month-long tour of Canada in October 1951. The departure of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh was delayed by a week due to the King’s illness and his lung surgery.

These photos of Their Royal Highnesses were included in a souvenir booklet produced by The City of Calgary to commemorate their stop in Calgary.

First Visit to Calgary

Calgary was fortunate to be a stop on the 1951 Royal Tour itinerary. Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh were scheduled for a very full day during their visit to Calgary on Thursday, October 18th.

Decorations were an important component of preparing the city for the Royal Guests as these would be the first things seen by the visitors. Decorations abounded in the form of flags, shields, crests and bunting placed at the train station, City Hall, the Palliser Hotel, and elsewhere around the city. Portraits of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh could be purchased to be used in window displays. 

One could also “decorate” one’s self. The Badge & Specialty Co. Limited of Montreal recommended the purchase of this Official Souvenir Badge of The Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh, “especially for school students participating in the Royal Visit”.

Royal Itinerary

The Royal Party was to be met at the Calgary CPR Station at 10:00 a.m. and then driven through the business section to City Hall, followed by a rest stop at the Palliser Hotel, and then finally on to the Exhibition Grounds.

Upon their 10:30 a.m. arrival at City Hall there would be a Civic Reception for Their Royal Highnesses with invited guests, followed by the signing of the Distinguished Visitors’ Register and then the presentation of a bouquet to Princess Elizabeth.

This photo captures Mayor Don Mackay escorting Princess Elizabeth down the steps of City Hall on October 18th, 1951 after the Civic Reception.

Queen and mayor

Glenbow Archives NA-4811-3, “Mayor Don Mackay escorting Princess Elizabeth down steps of City Hall, Calgary, Alberta.” October 1951, by McDermid Drug Company, Calgary, Alberta, under fair dealing, Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary.

Exhibition Grounds (Stampede Park)

After a rest period at the Palliser Hotel, Their Royal Highnesses departed at 11:30 a.m. to visit the Indian Village on the Exhibition (Calgary Stampede) Grounds at 11:40 a.m. as seen in this photograph.

The stop at the Indian Village included presentations of gifts from the Indian tribes to Their Royal Highnesses. As reported in The Albertan, Mrs. Antoinette Heavyshield would present the Indian outfit made for Prince Charles to Princess Elizabeth. She was the head seamstress for “the small white outfit” which would be displayed in her teepee. “The gift, from all the five tribes in Southern Alberta, will be presented in the name of the mothers of the tribes.”  

Photograph courtesy of the Williams & Harris Shared History Centre, Calgary Public Library.

Lunch and Mini-Stampede

After touring through the Indian Village, the next stop for the Royal Guests was at the Stampede Corral at 11:50 a.m. for the Civic Chuck-wagon Luncheon.

The luncheon was described as a “real Western chuckwagon dinner” with beef stew, Boston baked beans, potatoes au gratin, a grass salad (light green vegetables), blueberry tart, and coffee. A roast duck and five specially prepared roast Hungarian partridges were also at the table of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

After the luncheon Their Royal Highnesses departed from the Stampede Corral via stage coach through the Exhibition Grounds to a platform in front of the Grandstand. From here they could watch the Miniature Stampede performance in the infield in front of the Grandstand. 

A Cold Stampede

Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh watched the performance from the Grandstand under blankets which helped to keep them warm on what turned out to be quite a cold October day. The temperature was 18°F (7.8° C) and there were snow flurries, as seen in this photo.

After the Miniature Stampede, Their Royal Highnesses left the Exhibition Grounds via car to return to the CPR station for their departure to the West by rail, scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

Princess Elizabeth ended her 36-day Canadian tour on November 12th, 1951 when she and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to the United Kingdom.

Glenbow Archives PA-3953-29, “Royal Visit to Calgary, Alberta”, October 1951, under fair dealing, Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary.

Heir Presumptive

Representing King George VI

On January 31st, 1952 Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh left London / Heathrow to fly to Kenya. She was representing King George VI, still in poor health, on this Commonwealth Tour, which also included Australia and New Zealand. Their Royal Highnesses landed in Nairobi on February 1st to begin their visit.

Five days into the Royal Visit, Princess Elizabeth received word that her father, King George VI, had died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham House in the early hours of February 6th. He was 56 years of age.

Along with the news of her father’s death came the news of her accession – Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25.

The funeral for King George VI took place in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on February 15th, 1952.


The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place in Westminster Abbey on June 2nd, 1953. This solemn ceremony was conducted by Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, and it was televised at the Queen’s request, the first time for such an event. 

(The 1937 Coronation of her father, King George VI, was the first mobile outside television broadcast, although the ceremony itself was broadcast on radio.)

Calgary’s City Hall was decorated for the June 2nd celebration of the Coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Glenbow Archives NA-5600-6174b. “Street and window displays for coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Calgary, Alberta”, June 1953, by Jack De Lorme, Calgary, Alberta, under fair dealing, Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary

Coronation Service

The City of Calgary held Commemoration Services for the Coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, at Victoria Park on June 2nd, 1953.

There was a service in the Corral at 12:30 p.m. which included a rebroadcast of Her Majesty’s Coronation Speech. The 8:00 p.m. event at the Grandstand was filled with performances and concluded with fireworks.

In honour of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Bowview School, which is located  in the community of Hillhurst at 512 – 18th Street NW, was renamed the Queen Elizabeth Junior and Senior High School in 1953.

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Calgary - 1959

Did you know?

Since her accession to the Throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has completed more royal tours in Canada than to any other country in the Commonwealth. She has made 22 visits to Canada and has been to every province and territory in our country.

This portrait was painted for the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, by Leonard Boden, the renowned Scots-born London artist.

Photo Credit © Estate of Leonard Boden

Tour of Canada

In 1959 Queen Elizabeth II would embark on her second Tour of Canada as a reigning monarch, her first having taken place in 1957 from October 12th -16th when she was in Ottawa to open the 1st Session of the 23rd Parliament and to visit Hull, Quebec.

The second Tour of Canada was scheduled from June 18th to August 1st, 1959. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip would visit all of the provinces and territories. They would be stopping in Calgary while in Alberta. The Queen, presiding over a ceremony with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, would also officially open the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1959 Visit to Calgary

Their Royal Highnesses were scheduled to stop in Calgary on Thursday, July 9th, arriving at the Calgary Municipal Airport at 4:35 p.m. A busy evening was planned for them and was designed around a theme of “informality, letting the public see their Monarch, and making the tour as restful and interesting as possible for the Royal Party”.

Ottawa press dispatch of April 2nd, 1959. Referred to in notes on the Royal Visit. 

City Clerk’s Correspondence, Box 601, Folder “Presentation Lists – Royal Visit”.

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II leaving the plane with Mayor Don Mackay (left) and Prince Philip (right) and a Canadian Legion honour guard on either side of the red carpet. 

Glenbow Archives NA-4113-16. “Visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Calgary, Alberta”, July 9, 1959, by Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, under fair dealing, Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary.

Calgary Itinerary

Upon leaving the airport, the Royal Party would proceed to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. After this stop they would head on to Fort Calgary House at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Grounds.

From Fort Calgary House Their Royal Highnesses would walk to the Indian Village and then leave by automobile for the Grandstand to watch the Chuck Wagon Races.

After an address and presentation by Mayor Don Mackay, the Royal Party would leave for a Barbeque.

Photograph courtesy of the Williams & Harris Shared History Centre, Calgary Public Library.


The barbeque plans certainly fit the Royal Visit theme of informality. The Barbeque Invitation indicates that the event was to be held at the homes of The Honorable Mr. Justice Marshall M. Porter and Mr. Reginald F. Jennings in the community of Eagle Ridge and the menu is something that we might find at our own family barbeques.


Barbequed prime standing rib roasts
Buttered Buns
Beans – Western Style
Green Salad

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Calgary - 1973

1973 Visit to Calgary

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Canada twice in 1973. Their first visit, from June 25th to July 5th, included a stop in Calgary. In fact, Calgary – July 5th, 1973 – was the last stop of Their Majesties’ trip. One of the reasons for this trip was for the Queen to participate in events across Canada to mark the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Centennial.

Their Royal Highnesses arrived at the Calgary Airport in the late morning at 11:50 a.m. They were greeted by a number of dignitaries, including Premier Peter Lougheed and Mrs. Jeanne Lougheed, and Mayor Rod Sykes and Mrs. Gisele Sykes.

Calgary Itinerary

The Royal Guests departed at 12:00 Noon for the Indian Meeting Ground where Chief Harold Cardinal, President of the Indian Association of Alberta, made an Address of Loyalty to which the Queen replied. This was followed by a short walk by the teepees and then the departure for the Palliser Hotel.

The Civic Luncheon at the Palliser Hotel began at 12:55 p.m. There was a presentation of Head Table Guests who had not been presented previously.  Mayor Rod Sykes then made a presentation from The City of Calgary to Their Majesties – Calgary’s gift being a $2000 Royal Visit Scholarship.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

After the Civic Luncheon and the opportunity to retire for a brief rest period, Their Royal Highnesses left the Palliser Hotel at 2:40 p.m. for the Stampede Grounds. Upon their arrival, they transferred to a carriage, and with a mounted escort from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), they made a circuit of the track. Exiting at the North Gate, their open carriage made its way to Flare Square where the Royal Guests would disembark for a tour of the RCMP Activity Centre.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip and George Crawford, President of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, meets an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the afternoon grandstand performance at the Stampede.

Glenbow Archives NA-2864-23290-14. “Queen Elizabeth meeting Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer at afternoon grandstand performance, Calgary, Alberta”, July 5, 1973, by Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, used with permission, Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary. 

Dinner at the Palliser Hotel

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip returned to the Palliser Hotel at 4:50 p.m. for a brief presentation of photographs and presents. After a rest period they attended a dinner at the hotel hosted by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau is speaking at the dinner he hosted at the Palliser Hotel. Queen Elizabeth II is seated to his right and Prince Philip is seated to his left.

Glenbow Archives NA-2864-23388-11a. “Prime Minister Trudeau speaks at a Palliser Hotel banquet for Queen Elizabeth, Calgary, Alberta”, July 5, 1973, by Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, used with permission, Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary.

After Dinner Events

The Royal Couple left the Palliser Hotel at 8:35 p.m. to return to the Stampede Grounds. They arrived at the Royal Box at the Grandstand and Queen Elizabeth opened the Stampede at 8:55 p.m. After viewing the Chuckwagon races and a special musical presentation honouring the RCMP, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip left the grounds at 10:20 p.m. for the Calgary Airport where they departed for London at 10:50 p.m. via an Air Canada DC-8.

Photograph of the signature page for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip from July 5th, 1973 during their Calgary visit.

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Calgary - 1990

1990 Visit to Calgary

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, visited Calgary again in 1990. Although she was usually accompanied by Prince Philip on her travels, he did not accompany her on this trip. The Queen was in Calgary from Wednesday, June 27th to Saturday, June 30th with a mid-day trip to Red Deer on Thursday, June 28th.  

The signature page for Queen Elizabeth II from June 27th, 1990 during her Calgary visit.

A Coat of Arms

At 11:30 a.m. on June 27th, before Her Majesty’s 2:00 p.m. arrival at the Calgary International Airport, there was a Presentation of the Coat of Arms Ceremony in Council Chamber. The City of Calgary had applied to the Chief Herald of Canada for a grant of arms in honour of this Royal Visit.

Following this presentation ceremony, a Civic Luncheon in honour of Their Excellencies Ray Hnatyshyn, Governor-General of Canada, and Mrs. Hnatyshyn, was held in the Municipal Atrium at noon.

The Coat of Arms granted to Calgary in honour of the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Calgary in June 1990.

Spruce Meadows

On Friday, June 28th, Premier and Mrs. Getty accompanied Her Majesty to Spruce Meadows. She unveiled a plaque dedicating a sculpture of three bronze horses by artist Harry O’Hanlon and then went on to enjoy a number of activities before viewing the finals of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Visiting Spruce Meadows must have delighted the Queen, an animal lover since childhood, whose greatest passions are horses and dogs.

A duplicate of O’Hanlon’s sculpture Family of Horses sits outside on the Municipal Plaza. It was presented to The City of Calgary in 1989 by Marg and Ron Southern of Spruce Meadows.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and Ron Southern viewing a small version of the sculpture Family of Horses at Spruce Meadows.

Spruce Meadows

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II rides in an open carriage with Marg Southern at Spruce Meadows.

A Busy Day

June 30th, Her Majesty’s last day in Calgary, was a busy one. At 11:20 a.m. she opened the Museum of the Regiments at Canadian Forces Base Calgary followed by a luncheon with the members of the museum board. Then it was off to McMahon Stadium where Her Majesty, Colonel-in-Chief, inspected the King’s Own Calgary Regiment and The Calgary Highlanders. 

Photo Credit © Yousuf Karsh

New Queen’s Colour

Queen Elizabeth II presented a new Queen’s Colour to The Calgary Highlanders. After the ceremonies and greeting veterans, she left McMahon Stadium for the airport, departing from Calgary at 4:10 p.m.

The old and new Queen’s Colour of The Calgary Highlanders

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Calgary - 2005

2005 Visit to Calgary

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, visited Alberta from May 23rd to May 25th, 2005 to celebrate Alberta’s centennial. (The Province of Alberta was created in 1905.)


The Royal Couple were in Calgary on May 25th to attend events and Her Majesty signed this page for The City of Calgary Distinguished Visitors Register.

Calgary Itinerary

Upon their arrival, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made their first stop at the Museum of the Regiments for a private tour. Her Majesty opened this museum during her 1990 visit to Calgary. Her 2005 visit to the museum was in recognition of The Year of the Veteran.

Alberta Centennial Luncheon

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh then attended a luncheon at the Roundup Centre, hosted by Premier Ralph Klein and his wife Dr. Colleen Klein, to celebrate the centennial of the Province of Alberta.

Luncheon at the Roundup Centre

Queen Elizabeth II and the Honourable Ralph Klein, Premier of Alberta, visit over lunch. 

A Centennial Celebration

Following lunch at the Roundup Centre, Their Royal Highnesses went to the Pengrowth Saddledome (now the Scotiabank Saddledome) to attend A Centennial Celebration. This free centennial concert, attended by about 17,000 Albertans, showcased Alberta’s multicultural and western heritage.

A Fond Farewell

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip bid farewell to Alberta after the centennial concert.


After the concert the Royal Couple left for the airport, sent off with a 21-gun salute, an appropriate way to mark the Queen’s final visit to Calgary.

Queen Elizabeth II

Longest Reigning Monarch

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee – 65 years on the throne – on February 6th, 2017.


She is the longest-reigning British monarch, the world’s oldest reigning monarch, and the longest-reigning queen-regnant in history. (A queen-regnant is a female monarch who is of the equivalent rank to a king, but reigns in her own right. She is not a queen consort – wife of a reigning king, or queen regent – the guardian of a child and reigning temporarily on their behalf.)