Jennifer, who is attending the Rotary Action Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, said she had learnt of Her Majesty’s death on September 8th while in Uganda. She also recalled seeing the Queen in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario, while a small girl.
Where were you when you heard about the death of Queen Elizabeth II?
I was in Uganda when I heard the news. As President of Rotary International, I am doing everything I can to showcase our significant humanitarian projects and programs across the Rotary world that demonstrate our impact. Later that day, I was meeting with our Makerere University peace centre fellows who are devoted to peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
I then received a text message from Vice President, Nicki Scott, who wrote: “Jen, our Queen has just died. Can you please make a statement?”. I immediately went to the television and watched with the rest of the world.
What was your immediate reaction to hearing the news?
I felt deep sadness for her passing. Queen Elizabeth II was an inspiration to many Rotary members around the globe -especially those in Commonwealth countries. She was dedicated to numerous humanitarian causes that align with Rotary’s work around the world, including polio eradication. In fact, she received Rotary’s highest recognition—the Rotary International Award of Honour—for the 60th anniversary of her coronation in December 2013.
I distinctly remember, as a young girl, when she visited my home city of Windsor, Ontario. The streets were lined by thousands of people hoping to see a glimpse of Her Majesty passing by – it brought joy to so many.”
Have you met Queen Elizabeth or King Charles III previously?
I did not have the honour and privilege of meeting either of them. However, I am proud that the late Prince Philip was an honorary member of both the Rotary Club of Windsor and Eton and the Rotary Club of Windsor St. George in the United Kingdom, as well as an honorary Rotarian in London, Edinburgh, and King’s Lynn.
As a Canadian citizen, what are your thoughts about the Queen and what impact has she had on your country?
We first joined the British Commonwealth as an independent state in 1931, and most Canadians had very warm feelings for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She had a tremendous impact on Canada. She made 22 official trips to Canada and was present for many important moments in our history, like the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. I distinctly remember, as a young girl, when she visited my home city of Windsor, Ontario. The streets were lined by thousands of people hoping to see a glimpse of Her Majesty passing by – it brought joy to so many.
How does the Queen’s attitude to duty tie in with Rotary’s mantra of ‘service above self’?
One reason why I admired Queen Elizabeth is that she shared the same guiding principles of unselfish volunteer service and acting ethically towards others as Rotary members – and her actions were in line with Rotary’s motto of “service above self” and our Four-Way Test.
What impact, if any, did the Queen have with Rotary?
The British Royal Family has been highly supportive of Rotary through the years. Princess Anne addressed the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto. Princess Anne supports many non-profits and humanitarian organizations, and her presence at the 2018 International Convention brought global awareness and attention to Rotary’s work and inspired attendees.
One reason why I admired Queen Elizabeth is that she shared the same guiding principles of unselfish volunteer service and acting ethically towards others as Rotary members”
King Charles III is an honorary Rotarian (Rotary Club of Banchory Ternan in Scotland). He was also presented with the Rotary Award of Honour by Shekhar Mehta this summer at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Rwanda to mark his commitment to the environment. What are your hopes for King Charles’ reign, and what possible impact might he have on some of Rotary’s goals?
I hope that King Charles III will continue supporting humanitarian causes that he and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II have historically advanced. Given that King Charles III has long advocated for environmental causes, we anticipate Rotary’s work to support the environment might align with his, and we’d be honoured to have his support. Rotary has already allocated millions to environment-related projects in recent years, and we expect to expand our work—and funding—in this arena.