I must admit that I haven't given Her Royal Highness much thought in my life. If you spent your childhood in Canadian schools there was probably a picture of her in the school gym but that's about it. If you travel to the US you note that the tune of "My country is of thee" is the same as "God save the Queen." And I remember that my grandfather always had to stop everything at 11:00 on Christmas morning to listen to the Queen's Christmas greeting.
But in general my feelings were that the monarchy is some strange left over from another time, my grandfather's time, and totally irrelevant to the Canada I live in. Happy Canada Day BTW.
So it is fair to say that I went off to my royal party with fairly modest expectations. When I got there the crowd was a lot of navy couples (this is the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, as opposed to the British navy I suppose) all dressed up. I was amazed by the lack of security, it is 1000 times more complicated to get on a plane these days, basically I had my invite, someone looked at that and I cruised in.
The Queen and Prince Philip walked around, listened to some music, chatted and left in about 45 minutes.
OK this is the surprising part.
I was expecting formal, stuffy and well, serious. Instead I saw an extremely relaxed older couple (she is 84 he is 89) in terrific shape, sharp as tacks and well they were just, well, laid back. Comfortable in their skin relaxed, the least serious people in the room. Definitely the least pretentious people there that night. Prince Philip joked and teased some women I was with, another lady said to the Queen "you know you and I were married the same year" and she said "yes and we both made it this far."
What I noticed was their effect on people. My former boss, now the premier, is a modest man and often not comfortable at really formal events, I saw him walk around with the Queen laughing and at ease, and his wife who is a lovely shy woman and one to avoid events was completely relaxed as she cruised around with the prince.
It was then that I realized that they were working, real pros, and that their profession was making other people feel good about themselves. You could tell that when they get up they have the power to make someone's day with a smile, a comment and expression of interest in who someone is and what matters to them. No star quality, just nice people.
Now as to her clothes, here is a slide show of what she wore, and on the night I saw her she had on a bright yellow brocade suit, simple, collarless with white appliques. Yes and princess seamed and yes it looked to me like TNT. Her ladies-in-waiting had on identical suits in different colours.
And she carried a purse.