Chocolates made with beets, a brand-new kind of shrub, Chantal Kreviazuk and maybe even the Magna Carta.
Those are some of the things ready to welcome Queen Elizabeth II when she arrives in Winnipeg Saturday for a whirlwind, six-hour tour, likely her last to Winnipeg.
"We're very, very happy," said Wilbert Ronald, owner and president of Jeffries Nursery in Portage la Prairie where a new shrub was developed for the Queen's visit. "At the same time, there are many people who have to share the glory."
The Amber Jubilee Ninebark, a delicate but hearty bush whose leaves change colour from amber to purple, is among the commemorative items Manitobans have created for the Queen's inspection.
She'll help plant the shrub next to Government House during one of her two main public walkabouts. Her other major public appearance is at The Forks, where she'll be serenaded by Winnipeg chanteuse Kreviazuk, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and many others at an outdoor concert.
The Queen will also be the first person to arrive at the new Richardson International Airport terminal and it will be the first time in her 84 years she has ever walked an airport bridge.
The Queen's visit is costing the province a modest $42,000 — a fraction of the price of Her Majesty's two-day visit in 2002.
But, it's still a logistical nightmare. Dignitaries and invited VIPs have to be briefed on protocol and manoeuvred into place. Streets must be blocked off for her long motorcade, including Kennedy Street. RCMP and Winnipeg police must ensure security is tight but not intrusive. An army of cranky local, national and international media need to be accommodated. Events must be tailored to showcase Manitoba's best features while also catering to the Queen's real interests. And the food has to be lovely.
Two fine chocolates created by chocolatier Constance Popp will be nestled in a special box beside the table setting at the lunch hosted by Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee for the Queen and 72 special guests, including former premiers, senior civil servants and well-known Winnipeggers like women's Olympic hockey star Jennifer Botterill.
The Queen will be munching on a Manitoba maple syrup butter cream chocolate and a Manitoba red beet truffle with pepper, salt and caraway seed, both chosen after taste-testing by Lt.-Gov. Lee and other provincial officials.
The Queen won't be the first member of the Royal Family to nosh on Popp's chocolate. Prince Andrew also was presented with her chocolate during his last visit.
Will Popp meet the Queen?
"I didn't even ask," she said. "I only make the chocolate. I don't think I'm even more special than that."
The public gathered outside Government House might also get a sweet treat — an Imperial cookie baked with real butter and pure almond extract made by Winnipeg's High Tea Bakery.
"We're making 3,000 handmade cookies, which is actually 6,000 cookies because an Imperial cookie is a sandwich cookie," said bakery co-owner Belinda Bigold, who is also inscribing Her Majesty's crest on each cookie in red icing by hand.
Girl Guides, eight of them, will hand the cookies out during the Queen's walkabout.
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"This is a great opportunity for them to do this," said Elaine Cullingham, executive director of the provincial office of the Girl Guides of Canada.
Stealing some of the Queen's thunder might be a copy of the Magna Carta, the 800-year-old declaration of legal rights.
The copy is in New York, but Manitoba protocol chief Dwight MacAuley has been working for a while to get it to Winnipeg in time for the Queen's visit.
He said he should know by the end of today whether it's a go. It would likely be on display in the legislature for three months — the longest allowed — and it's possible the Queen might take a short detour to see it.
Its arrival would knit neatly with another of the Queen's duties — dedicating the cornerstone of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights at The Forks. The stone comes from Runnymede, the English meadow where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press.
Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it is sending a protestor in a bear costume to stalk the Queen in Winnipeg Saturday afternoon.
The group said in a press release it is targeting the use of Canadian bearskins in the making of the Queen’s Guards’ hats.
A protester dressed in a bear costume with a “God Save the Bears Sign” will meet up with the Queen at Government House Saturday afternoon, PETA said.
It hopes to inspire the Queen to ask the British Ministry of Defence to use artificial fur instead of Canadian bearskins in the making of Queen’s Guards’ headgear, the group said.
12:20 p.m. -- The Queen and Prince Philip arrive at the new airport, get a welcome from the lieutenant-governor and other VIPs, take a brief tour and get whisked off to Government House.
1:15 p.m. -- The Queen arrives at Government House for a reception, a private luncheon in the ballroom and a royal nap.
4:20 p.m. -- The Queen's walkabout in the Government House garden begins. She'll unveil a relocated Leo Mol statue of herself, help plant the shrub and listen to brief speeches by Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee and Premier Greg Selinger. All this will take about half an hour.
5:10 p.m. -- The Queen arrives at the Esplanade Riel and walks across while La Compagnie de la Verendrye do a musket salute. She stops at the foot of the bridge to dedicate the human rights museum cornerstone and some other ceremonial duties. Then, she'll do a brief walkabout on her way to the Scotiabank stage.
5:40 p.m. -- The Queen enjoys the Manitoba Homecoming Concert for Human Rights in a special royal box for about 20 minutes.
6 p.m. -- Her five-minute speech.
6:30 p.m. -- The Queen arrives at 17 Wing to catch her flight to Ottawa.