For decades, Derek Saikali has been collecting various pieces of royal memorabilia and storing them in his basement in suburban Ottawa.
Now, for the first time ever, he has taken out thousands of items dedicated to the Royal Family and displayed them around his home to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“I didn’t even realize I had so many things until I started taking them out,” Saikali said.
“I find that each piece is a piece of history.”
The collection dates back to 1837
The Kanata resident began collecting items in 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Its vast collection now ranges from memorabilia from Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1837 and King Edward’s abdication in 1936, to recent items like Funko Pop figures and biscuit tins commemorating royal births.
“They just found me,” he said, looking at the hundreds of plates, teacups and napkins that adorn his kitchen.
He said he found many pieces at flea markets and antique shops in Canada and the UK, but mostly credits his friends for bringing back holiday items.
“My friends know about this collection. I don’t think they realize the magnitude of it,” he said.
Saikali said his most expensive piece is a bright and vibrant portrait of the Queen that he commissioned Ottawa artist Cor Beattie to paint a few years ago.
“I just had two conditions: it had to be the queen of the 50s and she had to wear a tiara,” he said.
Many sightings of the queen
Saikali has no direct ties to England but has been fascinated by the Royal Family and its sense of duty since the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
He saw Queen Elizabeth II several times from afar – when she visited Ottawa and when he visited London for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. He recalled the excitement and the energy of seeing the Queen’s Flotilla at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Show.
“It was amazing,” recalls Saikali. “Like there was such energy and love for the Queen.”
“Back in the Vault”
Saikali said he planned to watch the royal funeral on Monday at home with friends.
“[The Queen] left behind a great legacy. I think she will be remembered very fondly,” Saikali said.
He said after the funeral he would put all the memories “in the safe” in his basement.
He plans to continue to add to his collection, which now includes all European royal families.