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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Another Kelly Becomes a Princess: A Fairy Tale for Winter.

In the depths of winter, when gardening can be only a figment of my imagination, I pass the time with occasional work as a standardized patient, at a simulated hospital, at the faculty of medicine of a prominent university. I don’t do it for the remuneration, which is modest; I enjoy contributing to the education of future healers. This facility provides a safe place for future doctors to practice what they learn. It also serves to level the playing field for training and evaluating medical students because, in this setting, they all experience identical medical scenarios.

To ensure realism and equality, professional actors are hired to play and replay the roles of patients and supervisors. Most of them have extensive stage experience. Since acting gigs are not always available, many are delighted for this work to keep them busy. Often, when there is a shortage of mature actors, the university reaches out to the community at large. That is how I was hired. Over the years, I have met only one other non actor, Bernie, short for Bernadette, I presume.

The mind set and interests of theatre people are so focused on their craft that there are few topics that actors and non actors can share in conversation. In between scenarios, Bernie and I rarely participate in the ongoing camaraderie and dialogue. Sometimes, when she is not doing a crossword puzzle, we chat with each other. I enjoy her company.

In the spring of 2008, I noticed that Bernie had been missing from some sessions. That was surprising because she is always in demand and so reliable. It concerned me that perhaps she had fallen ill. When she returned to work, I was relieved to see her in good health and inquired about her absence. With a smile, she replied that “I’ve been to England to visit the Queen!’. Incredulously, I begged for more information because Bernie does not exaggerate when she talks. “Really” she said “I attended a royal wedding. My niece married the grandson of the Queen”.

Anyone meeting her would find that information hard to believe. Bernie is a down-to-earth, matter of fact, accomplished, professional who worked as a registered nurse in Psychiatry in her first career and now serves as a spokesperson for the Alzheimer Society. In her spare time, she paints and exhibits exquisite water colors. Her brother runs a small construction-related company. There is nothing in their background that would have made anyone in that family a candidate for a traditional royal marriage. Since I enjoy a good story, I could not let her comments pass, so I continued to question her. I wanted to know how this fairy tale event came about.

In 2003, her niece, Autumn Kelly, a university graduate with a degree in management, and a minor in Chinese language, invited her girlfriend to join her at the Grand Prix auto races, held annually in Montreal. These were special ticket to the VIP box given to her by the management company that employed her. While watching the races, the girls struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting next to them. Half way though the event, the girlfriend realized that something magical was happening between Autumn and the gentleman. When the races were over and he invited both ladies to dinner, she declined to go. It was clear that she was invited only because he was being gracious and polite. Instead, she encouraged Autumn to accept and go without her.

The two newly-mets quickly struck up a strong friendship and began dating. Since he lived in the UK, they spoke regularly by phone. One weekend, Autumn was visiting her parents who invited her to join them in watching the televised pageantry celebrating the Queen’s birthday. At one point during the proceedings, the entire Royal Family came out onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the ritual hand-waving ceremony and that is when Autumn gasped with surprise and shock. “There’s Peter” she cried out. Her mother looked at her with incredulity. “Of course that’s Peter” she said. “He’s the son of Princess Anne. Who else did you think it was? “No, Mom, that MY Peter” she replied. “That’s the man I’ve been dating and I am so angry that he has been keeping his true identity a secret for so long”, she continued.

That night, when she spoke with Peter by phone, Autumn accused him of deception, with the expectation that she would be ending their relationship immediately. Peter reasoned with her, explaining that if he had revealed his true identity, she would not have agreed to date him. The surprised, but now calmed, young lady realized that he was right and forgave him. In May 2008, Autumn Kelly married Peter Phillips, at Windsor Castle.

Bernie would repeat this delightful fair-tale-come-true story many times to anyone who would ask about her whereabouts. What she emphasized in her narrative was that the mother of the groom, Princess Anne, had declined to give her two children royal titles. Bernie was also delighted that she was made to feel comfortable attending the wedding because it was devoid of all formality. Nothing took place that day that might remind her that she and her brother’s family were not of the aristocracy. At the luncheon reception, she was seated next to the Queen’s bishop. Without prior knowledge, no one attending this event would have known that a royal wedding had taken place.

Almost three years have past and Autumn Kelly and Peter Phillips have just welcomed their first child. How ironic that the Queen’s first great grand child, 12th in line to the throne, will be born with dual Canadian and British citizenship. As the line goes in the Broadway play “West Side Story”, “What a touchin’ good story!”

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Reader Comments (5)

Allan, what a great story! It is interesting how small our world is.


January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Now that is what I call a story, no wonder Peter fell for Autumn, she is stunning.

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

I really enjoy a good story.

Allan you have happened upon a fairy tale romance and have told the amazing story beautifully. Congratulations to the young couple on their union and the arrival of their first child.

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Hi Allan:
Although Bernie had told me the story, I enjoyed hearing it again.
Your sometimes wife at the Sim Centre.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Ross

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