Emperor Akihito's only other visit to Canada was in 1953, en route to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - something the Governor General alluded to in her speech.
Walking into Rideau Hall always gives me butterflies in the stomach. This building is steeped in history and character. It was refreshing to see the large portrait of Queen Victoria in the Tent Room and, of course, the Lemieux painting of The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in the ballroom. (There's no need to dwell on the past movings and removings of royal portraits; we'll leave that for another day!)
I had the fortune of speaking with many people - new contacts and old acquaintances - including Claire Boudreau (Chief Herald of Canada), Peter Milliken (Speaker of the House of Commons), and Sheila-Marie Cook (Secretary to the Governor General). After meeting briefly the Emperor and Empress, who are lovely people, I enjoyed a good conversation with Her Excellency the Governor General.
If you ever have an opportunity to attend a state dinner, I would strongly encourage you to go. The people you meet, the conversations you share, and the memories you create - not to mention the wonderful food (and wine!) you consume - will leave you in awe. Monday was truly a magical evening that I will cherish forever.
Until next time,