Good wishes for ‘long, happy mar­riage’,

Royal cou­ple meet vet­er­ans, peace­keep­ers at pri­vate re­cep­tion

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - BY JANET WIL­SON

The black-and-white pho­to­graph tucked in­side Ge­orge Spear’s weath­ered cap may be creased and slightly faded, but it re­mains a tes­ta­ment to the love he’s had for his wife of 68 years — a fact the Ne­pean na­tive was able to share with the Duchess of Cam­bridge.

Prince Wil­liam and Kate spent more than an hour at the Cana­dian War Mu­seum meet­ing with vet­er­ans, war brides and peace­keep­ers at a pri­vate re­cep­tion in Le­Bre­ton Gallery. It was the royal cou­ple’s fi­nal sched­uled ap­point­ment be­fore leav­ing Ot­tawa.

When Kate stopped to chat with the Spear fam­ily, she saw Spear’s hat ly­ing on the ta­ble and picked up the cap and the photo gin­gerly with both hands.

“I told Kate it was a pic­ture of my wife, Jean, be­fore we were mar­ried in 1942,” said Spear, who served as a sergeant ma­jor of the 1st Corps Field Sur­vey Co., Royal Cana­dian En­gi­neers.

“Kate asked if I had al­ways kept the photo and I replied, ‘ All through the war and ever since’.”

Jean Spear, who came to Ot­tawa from Eng­land as a 22-year-old war bride in 1944, told Kate that she had been mar­ried to her sweet­heart for 68 years.

“Kate held the cap so care­fully and with such ten­der­ness as if it was some­thing pre­cious. She told us it was won­der­ful and that she would have to get a photo of Wil­liam to carry with her. I thanked her for com­ing to Canada and wished her a long, happy mar­riage.”

Jean Spear wore the same rose­c­oloured suit yes­ter­day that she did to meet the Queen at Buck­ing­ham Palace in 2006 when she was named a Mem­ber of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire.

“I thought it was only fit­ting that I wore the medal Prince Wil­liam’s grand­mother gave me as well as the out­fit,” said the 89-year-old Spear.

“This is yet an­other ad­ven­ture for my fam­ily. My son Ian and daugh­ter Heather were also with Ge­orge and me at Buck­ing­ham Palace so it’s spe­cial that they are here to­day,” Jean Spear said.

The royal cou­ple looked re­laxed and seemed to en­joy tak­ing their time go­ing ta­ble by ta­ble meet­ing with the roughly 140 guests. At one point, Kate could be over­heard say­ing that she was al­ways get­ting in trou­ble for talk­ing too much. The new­ly­weds worked the room sep­a­rately, shak­ing hands, in­sist­ing that the guests re­main seated and would oc­ca­sion­ally sit down to con­verse with those who were less mo­bile.

Sev­eral women wore fas­ci­na­tors and so­phis­ti­cated sum­mer hats in a nod to Kate’s fash­ion sen­si­bil­i­ties, while vet­er­ans from the Sec­ond World War and Korean War and NATO peace­keep­ers dressed in uni­form, proudly dis­play­ing their medals. It was a fit­ting venue in­side the bunker-like mu­seum to high­light Canada’s mil­i­tary his­tory and ac­com­plish­ments.

Jean Spear, who founded the coun­try’s ESWIC (Eng­land, Scot­land, Wales, Ire­land and Canada) club for war brides, was joined by five other war brides from the Ot­tawa area. They in­clude Jean Irv­ing, 88, Marg Barry, 88, Gla­dys Say­lor, 85, Alice Camp­bell, 95, and Mar­ion Black­burn, 84, and they re­main good friends to­day. De­spite some aches and pains, the feisty group was full of pluck yes­ter­day link­ing arms and singing an im­promptu ver­sion of Knees Up Mother Brown, a pop­u­lar English song writ­ten in 1938.

Irv­ing was thrilled that she got to shake hands with Kate and to tell her that she came from a vil­lage near where the Mid­dle­ton fam­ily lived.

“I told Kate that her par­ents were mar­ried in a church near Burn­ham where I grew up in Berk­shire County. She was quite pleased and knew it well.” TO WATCH a video of our re­porter chat­ting with Jean and Ge­orge Spear, go to

BLAIR GABLE, REUTERS Wil­liam and Kate un­veil an un­fin­ished mu­ral dur­ing a re­cep­tion at the Cana­dian War Mu­seum in Ot­tawa on Satur­day. The cou­ple spent more than an hour at the mu­seum meet­ing with vet­er­ans, war brides and peace­keep­ers at a pri­vate re­cep­tion in Le­Bre­ton Gallery. It was their fi­nal sched­uled ap­point­ment be­fore leav­ing Ot­tawa.

DAVID KAWAI, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN War brides Jean Irv­ing, 88, Marg Barry, 88, Jean Spear, 89, Gla­dys Say­lor, 85, Alice Camp­bell, 95, and Mar­ion Black­burn, 84, all had a chance to meet Cather­ine, Duchess of Cam­bridge and Prince Wil­liam, Duke of Cam­bridge as part of the Royal Cou­ple’s tour of the Cana­dian War Mu­seum on Satur­day.

DAVID KAWAI, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN Ge­orge Spear holds his hat to show a photo of his wife Jean, which he has kept there since he left for com­bat in 1942. Both had the op­por­tu­nity to meet the and talk with royal cou­ple.

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