Kwalikum Secondary grad selected to attend funeral for Queen Elizabeth II

A graduate of Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS) will attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

Alexander Close, a 24-year-old member of the Royal Air Force (RAF), has been chosen to attend the monarch’s final farewell at Windsor Castle on September 19, according to his father Anthony Close.

“This is definitely a very special moment,” said Anthony. “And he’s very proud to be a Canadian-British citizen attending that over there.”

Close, who has been in the RAF for two years, served from the ages of 12 to 19 as an air cadet in 893 Beaufort Squadron at Qualicum Beach. According to his father, he is based at RAF Cosford near Birmingham.

Close will be part of the formal dress parade at the handover ceremony at Windsor Castle.

“While the funeral is in Westminster and then there’s a long parade, he’s more or less in the final stages at Windsor when the procession comes around he’ll be doing drills there,” Anthony said.

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He was selected along with other staff from various air bases across the UK. Anthony said Close was so busy with his preparations that he didn’t have time to fill him in on many details.

Close, based in a London barracks, rehearsed all night from 10pm until 10am the other day in preparation for the big day.

He has to get up at 2am on Monday morning to get ready, Anthony said.

“He’s always wanted to work in aviation since he was about five years old,” he added.

Close applied to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) before graduating from the KSS and being accepted as a pilot.

He was willing to travel to Ontario to undergo the final physical exam, but unfortunately his medical records were misplaced. By the time they were relocated, the pilot intake was filled and closed for two years, according to Anthony.

“Because he had dual nationality, he decided to go to England and try his luck with the RAF,” Anthony said.

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Close was eligible but had to live in the UK for three years to qualify. He went to college for a few years, majoring in physics, math, psychology and English.

After joining the Air Force, his pilot training was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Close decided to join the British Army Parachute Regiment but was able to transfer back to the RAF and complete his basic training in November 2021, according to Anthony.

Since the pilot license was still closed, he decided instead to train as an aircraft engineer.

Close hopes to one day bring his skills as a seaplane pilot or helicopter engineer back to Vancouver Island.

Every year throughout his life he and his father would travel to air shows in England where they could stay with a family in the Cambridge area.

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Close’s grandfather was a passionate model builder and aviator, aviation enthusiast and historian. He was also in the British Army’s Royal Corps of Signals, stationed in West Germany during the Cold War.

He started building model airplanes with his father around the age of five and by the age of seven he was traveling with his father and grandfather to competitions and winning several trophies.

“Even then he had a deep fascination with flying,” said Anthony.

During his time as an air cadet, Close achieved the rank of warrant officer and parade commander for 893 Beaufort Squadron. He has been involved in many fundraisers for the Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and Bowser Legions.

“He is very honored to be part of this process,” said Anthony. “I think part of that sense of pride is that he’s a Canadian citizen.”

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