GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. – Wilson Price was a man of honour, and - according to the Queen of England - had amazing eyes.
“She stopped at his line and spoke briefly with him,” said Debbie Browne, daughter of Price, of Queen Elizabeth. “She said, ‘You have the most amazing blue eyes.’”
Price travelled to England aboard the T.S.S Atlantic to stand guard for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. One of three Newfoundlander’s chosen to make the trip, he stood at attention along the coronation route for nine hours without food or water. Price, a corporal in the militia at the time, had to be demoted to the rank of private to be selected to attend the monumental event, as many ranks and designations needed to be represented.
June 2 marks the 65th anniversary of the coronation.
The Queen mother, upon a visit to St. John’s, also paid Price the same compliment.
“They had a little chit chat, she asked where he was from, and then she ended it by saying, ‘You have the most amazing blue eyes,’” Browne said.
Browne said her father was impressed with how organized everything was surrounding the coronation.
“If you knew my dad, he was straight forward and said it like it is, so if it was organized, it was organized,” she said.
Browne said her father lacked a middle name, which from her recollection, could have possibly prevented him from attending a party at the Bowater House at the time.
“Apparently, he wasn’t going to be accepted in there unless he had a second name,” she said. “So, whoever the general was overall at the time, gave him a second name so he could go in without trouble.”
Walter Tucker, future mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor, originally recommended Price for the trip.
“He had to have a good reputation and army experience,” said Marie Price of her late husband.
Price fought in Italy for three years during the Second World War. While on deployment, his father was killed at his place of work. Price, who found out two months after, felt bad that he got a night of reprieve from the front lines because of it. Marie Price said her husband loved being in the army.
“He always thought a lot of royalty,” she said, noting that her husband had kept a replica medal from King George VI’s coronation as a child.
Price left for England in April of 1953, and he came home to a new daughter.
“I was pregnant on Debbie when he left,” Price said. “She was two months old when he got back.”
Price said her husband wanted to call their daughter Elizabeth. Marie was against it, and said a lot of newborns at the time would have been called Elizabeth. She notified her husband of their daughter’s birth by telegram.
“She said, ‘Everyone and their dog is going to be called Elizabeth,’” Browne joked.
Price was quiet and reserved, and Browne said that’s why a lot of people didn’t know of her father’s experiences, which include running into Bing Crosby and his son in a souvenir shop in England.
“He didn’t do it for show,” she said. “It was all about honour.”
Price passed away shortly after his birthday in April of 1995 at 71 years old.