Pictou's Luke MacDonald displays some of the photos he has received in response to letters he sent to members of the Royal Family. Rosalie MacEachern photo
Luke MacDonald would love to go to London to visit the Queen but for this weekend he is content to stay in Pictou and play for the Prince.
By Rosalie MacEachern
Special to The News
Luke, 10, will be playing his chanter for Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, when they visit the Hector Quay Monday afternoon. He is a member of the Heatherbells Pipe Band, which will be part of the entertainment during the 90-minute visit.
The excitement over Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011 sparked Luke’s interest in the Royals. On the day of the wedding his mother Lynn got up early to find his bed empty.
“I went downstairs and found him all by himself watching the wedding,” she said.
The horse-drawn carriages and the colourful uniforms of royal attendants are what interested Luke most.
“I never saw anything like it, it was pretty amazing,” he said.
From there he began reading about the Royals and collecting royal memorabilia.
Nobody tell Prince Charles, but Luke’s favourite is the Queen Mother who died before he was born.
“I’ve read a lot about her and she is always smiling in photographs,” he said.
She also considered herself a Scot, which is a nice connection for a guy with MacDonald for a last name.
“I have a lot of books about her. She became the queen at George VI’s coronation in 1936 and she was the queen during the war but then her husband died so she could not be the queen anymore. That is when she became the Queen Mother and she didn’t die until she was 101,” said Luke, adding the Queen Mother was a great fan of horse racing and summer vacations in a Scottish castle.
Lynn said Luke’s interest in the Royals has made an impression on a lot of people.
“My mother’s friends and others have been very good to him, passing on books and photos and things that interest him,” she said.
Foremost amongst Luke’s large collection of memorabilia is a painted metal tin that dates back to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and a set of tiny rectangular cards printed with pictures of all those who played a role in the 1936 coronation of King George VI, from the young king and queen down to the Lord Chief Justice of England, the Lord Mayor of London and the Master of the Horse.
“My aunt Nancy works at the deCoste Centre and John Meir worked there, too. He got the tin and cards when he lived in England and he gave it to me. It is the oldest thing I have and I really, really like it,” he said.
The cards are printed with a Player’s Cigarettes logo.
Luke also has a collection of letters and photos he received after writing to various Royals.
“I have letters from the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Anne and the Prince and Duchess who are coming to Pictou,” he said.
The last letter he sent, asking a few questions about royal life, was to Prince Charles and he had a response a month later.
Luke admits he is a little nervous because the Heatherbells will be playing right in front of the Prince and Duchess.
“My cousin is a piper and she got me interested so I started chanter two years ago but this will be my first performance,” he said, adding he will be decked out in kilt, black jacket and knee socks.
His cousins, drummer Kelli and piper Aran, will also be on hand with the pipe band.
It might be Luke’s first musical performance but he has been in costume before as he and his sister, Clare, regularly participated in the re-enactments of the landing of the Ship Hector.
“We wore costumes like the children would have worn and we went out in a boat and came ashore and that was really fun,” he said.
Luke’s friends do not care much about his interest in royalty but they do share his other great passion, mini-stick hockey.
“We’re always playing mini-sticks and I’m always the goalie,” said the Leafs fan.
Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who writes a column, Among Friends, for The News. If you have someone you think should she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org