TORONTO – The Queen trumpeted Canadian values of freedom and fairness in a speech Monday night that also noted Canadian sacrifices in Afghanistan, as her 22nd visit to the country neared its end.
“In my lifetime Canada’s development as a nation has been remarkable,” she said.
“This vast, rich and varied country has inspired its own and attracted many others by its adherence to certain values. Some are enshrined in law, but I should imagine just as many are simply found in the hearts of ordinary Canadians.”
The Queen was dressed in a glittering white lace floor-length dress with a spread of maple leaves made of Swarovski crystals over one shoulder and small sequins and pearls embroidered on the rest of the dress.
To attend the dinner, hosted by the federal government, she also wore diamond chandelier earrings and her Queen Mary tiara.
After touring Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto and Waterloo, Ont., the Queen and Prince Philip head Tuesday to New York, where she will address the United Nations.
In her speech the Queen praised Canada’s unequalled commitment to the UN and the country’s values of “freedom, fairness and the rule of law.”
“Building on those foundations, this nation’s international engagement is strong as ever, whether measured by the service and sacrifice of our troops in Afghanistan or gathering the leading countries of the world here in Toronto to address matters of urgent concern,” she said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented the Queen with a display to be housed in the Hockey Hall of Fame, which includes pictures of the Queen attending a hockey game in Toronto in 1951 and dropping the puck in 2002 in Vancouver.
The display included a Canadian Olympic hockey jersey for the Queen, who Harper called “Canada’s most valuable player.”
The dinner was the end of a long day for the Queen, which began at Research in Motion in Waterloo, where a picture of Canadian schoolchildren offering up a virtual bouquet greeted the Queen on her new top-of-the-line BlackBerry.
It’s rumoured the 84-year-old Queen is no stranger to such devices, but Palace officials wouldn’t confirm whether a Royal BlackBerry already exists.
If it didn’t, it does now.
Following her whirlwind tour of Canadian high-tech darling RIM, with co-founder Mike Lazaridis, the Queen was presented with her own personalized, white, BlackBerry Bold 9700 smartphone.
The gift included the desktop image of children from Queen Elizabeth Public School in Kitchener offering flowers — a traditional greeting for the monarch with a digital twist.
Outside in the sweltering heat, crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the Queen, who stopped to speak to a number of war veterans who’d taken refuge in the shade of a tree while she toured the facility.
“It was nice talking to her,” said Korean war veteran Sid Brougham, 78. “I didn’t think we would, but she made time.”
Last time he saw the Queen he was a teenager and she was a princess visiting Dorval, Que., on a train, he said.
“She is like everybody else, but to us, she is different. I guess it puts a lump in your throat,” he said.
“The older she gets, the more she looks like her mother. She’s a good Queen. But my queen was the mother.”
A power outage hit downtown Toronto as Prince Philip was about to present the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a program that encourages youth to participate in community service, among other areas. The emergency power kicked in at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and Prince Philip soldiered on, presenting the awards in the dimly lit room, joking with parents in the audience.
Full power was restored to the hotel less than 15 minutes before the receiving line began for the formal dinner.
Earlier, the Queen took a guided tour of the RIM’s cavernous work room, a high-security area where the ubiquitous gadgets are assembled.
Even the monarch couldn’t escape the white smock that everyone was required to wear during her tour of the RIM’s assembly floor, which is specially designed to guard against electrostatic charges that could disrupt the delicate devices.
But the Queen kept her white gloves and hat — a buttercup-yellow confection by designer Angela Kelly with multicoloured feathers and a mulberry-coloured brim. Beneath her smock, the Queen wore a matching yellow wool crepe coat and silk flowered dress by Karl Ludwig.
The Queen took it all in stride, passing aisles of large automated machines and immaculately clean workstations where employees put the BlackBerrys together.
Dozens of RIM workers in blue smocks who were cordoned off along the aisles clapped as she entered the room, with an entourage that included Lazaridis and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
According to a company spokeswoman, it was the first time the media had been allowed on the RIM work floor.
Strolling up the aisle, the Queen paused at a workstation where electronic assembly worker Elivira Dulic showed her a new BlackBerry.
The Queen extended her clasped hands to touch the device and smiled, seemingly very interested in what Dulic was saying. She then asked Dulic a question, pointing to the BlackBerry, and the two chatted briefly.
The royal family has a long tradition of keeping up with technology, dating back to 1878, when Queen Victoria met Alexander Graham Bell and tried his new invention: the telephone.
The current Queen also keeps up with the times, according to the official website of the British monarchy. She made her first radio broadcast in 1940, sent the first royal email in 1976, podcast her Christmas broadcast for the first time in 2006 and launched the first Royal channel on YouTube in 2007.
She even has her own iPod.
Before her departure, the Queen greeted, spoke and shook hands with RIM employees and visiting dignitaries who had gathered in the plant’s lobby before heading outside, satisfying the dozens of cheering supporters who waited for hours in the blistering sun for a look at the monarch.
Before touring a 3D film studio in Toronto, the Queen attended a luncheon on site hosted by McGuinty.
In a speech bursting with praise for the Queen, McGuinty announced a scholarship would be renamed in honour of the monarch to the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology.
“On behalf of 13 million Ontarians, thank you for sharing with us your grace, your warmth and your kindness,” McGuinty beamed at the Queen.
“You have given an unwavering devotion to all those who would look to you for guidance and leadership. You have given us integrity, honour and duty. You shine for us.”
The Queen then viewed a demonstration of 3D filming at Pinewood Toronto Studios — using 3D glasses with a monogram Q on the side.
Pinewood Toronto Studios is Canada’s largest film and television production complex, with seven sound stages and more than 23,000 square metres of production space.