Nova Scotia·Q&A

Former N.S. lieutenant-governor Mayann Francis mourns the death of her role model, Queen Elizabeth

Francis served as the Queen's representative in Nova Scotia from 2006 to 2012.

Francis served as the Queen's representative from 2006 to 2012

Queen Elizabeth, followed by Prince Philip and then-Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Mayann Francis, walk along the guard of honour as she leaves Government House Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Halifax during a nine-day visit to Canada. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia's former lieutenant-governor Mayann Francis said although the death of Queen Elizabeth was not unexpected, she cried when she heard the news Thursday.

Francis served as the Queen's representative in Nova Scotia from 2006 to 2012.

She described the late monarch as a role model and an important anchor in her life.

Francis told CBC Radio's Information Morning Nova Scotia host Portia Clark that being in the presence of the Queen was a "moving experience."

This is a condensed version of their conversation that has been edited for clarity and length.

Aside from her age, why do you say you have been expecting to hear news of the Queen's passing?

When Prince Philip died in 2021, I just had a gut feeling that she would not be here until she reached 100.

I always watched and read about her.

I found her to be a very intelligent, kind, caring, respectful person. She loved families, her children, and she loved her dogs.

Whenever I was with her, especially in 2010, she demonstrated her respect for me and that demonstration of respect was definitely real — it wasn't phony.

I just loved her, loved every moment of being with her, talking to her, because she was just such a kind, genuine person and extremely intelligent.

She just became part of my life and she will always be part of my life.

In 2006, I became  the Lieutenant Governor, representing her.

I feel very strongly about her too, because she was a strong believer in God. She had much faith and that's the way I am as well.

I always try to acknowledge her in different ways.

In my recent children's book One Summer in Whitney Pier, I decided that the dog that's in there is a corgi.

Then in my memoir, I talk about her as one of my anchors and I go into details about my belief and her faith in God.

She was somebody that I love and I admire and she'll always be in my heart and in my life.

When I found out yesterday that she died, I just cried and cried. I'm still feeling that way about her now that she's gone and her life will always be with me.

In your book, I was just looking at the passage where you talk about meeting her for the first time with your sister Isabel in London as lieutenant-governor and how you won't talk about your conversations, but I'm wondering if she was a role model for you as you were taking on that role?

She was a role model for me from the time I was a child, and because my family were strong monarchists, I just always loved her.

When I became the lieutenant-governor, it was like, oh my heavens, what is God's message here?

She was just somebody that will always be an influence in my life in many ways.

When my sister and I met with her, it was quite a moving experience. It was clear that she was briefed on both of us because of her conversation about our life. She was just that type of intelligent person and she cared.

And I'll remember when she was here in 2010, saying farewell to her at the airport and she got to me and you're shaking hands and she said "take care" and I'll always remember that.

She was always genuine and kind and wonderful.

I watched her when she was in Africa, when she was in other parts of the country, and she was genuine and very sincere.

A very close friend of mine who's from Africa sent me condolences yesterday. One of the things she said was her passing on has left a void in so many hearts. [She said] Kenyans particularly will fondly remember her since she was named Queen while on vacation in their country.

As one of the Queens lieutenant-governors do you have a particular role or perspective during this transition to King Charles?

I support him. He will play the play the role well, and my respect is there for him. 

As I said, I'm a strong supporter of monarchy, and he will do well.

He's on his way to formalize it, but he's the king now so on the surface, there is that continuity. But given that the Queen's been such a stabilizing force in some respects for 70 years, what do you think is going to be the actual change, beyond emotion, under a new monarch at a time when some feel the monarchy has outlived its purpose?

I don't know that, but I do believe that King Charles will continue to make sure that the monarchy has respect.

He'll know the current circumstances in terms of our environment, our society, our way of thinking. He knows all of that. He's a very smart man.

He was extremely close to his mom so I'm sure that he's going to make sure that the respect is there. That's my belief.

For people who've only seen her through the media or on our money, what would you like people to remember through your eyes?

She was somebody who was always dignified. She loved children, she loved pets, especially dogs.

But look at her as somebody who truly loved people. She was somebody who respected people, and I just always admired her, still do.

The fact that she was a true and deep believer in God stays in my heart.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

A banner of upturned fists, with the words 'Being Black in Canada'.


With files from Information Morning Halifax

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