By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
Call the royal household what you will–prim and a tad proper are common descriptors–but don’t call it inefficient or methodical.
Merely a day after Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would not attend the upcoming Commonwealth leaders summit in November and Prince Charles would go in her place, the monarch and heir were together at the State Opening of Parliament in London. When the joint appearance was announced a few weeks ago, it caused only a murmur among royal watchers, since the Prince of Wales hasn’t attended the annual event since 1996. Now it’s clear that yesterday’s announcement and today’s appearance at Parliament were part of a greater scheme. As the Daily Mail stated, “Charles’ presence at Parliament today suggests it is also part of the carefully-choreographed plan to share the burden of responsibility.”
But don’t think that this shift means there will be co-monarchs or it’s a sign that “after more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning” as Time intoned. That’s jumping the gun. The Queen is firmly in control. Instead, it’s a recognition that Elizabeth, 87, and her husband, Philip, 92 in June, can’t continue their crushing schedule of 300-400 engagements a year without help. As the Independent said, “But–taken together–the moves highlight the increasingly high-profile role that Prince Charles is expected to take supporting his mother in state affairs in the coming months and years. It will involve increasing co-ordination between the diaries of senior royals–with the duke and duchess of Cambridge taking on many more official duties.” The Windsors rarely do anything quickly or in haste. Instead, incremental–even glacial–change is their preferred modus operandi. Charles has been taking on more and more of the Queen’s duties for years, including holding investitures (as does Princess Anne).
Even Camilla got into the supporting act, wearing a fabulous Boucheron tiara and a rather regal looking white gown (royal women only wear white to this event). Though Charles has officially stated that she’ll have the title of “Princess Consort” when he accedes the throne, in part to dampen anger left over from the Diana years, there seems to be a slow shift in perception that Camilla will actually take the title of queen. As the Daily Mail caption stated, “Camilla dressed the part of a queen-in-waiting in a sparkling tiara that has been in the royal family for over 90 years.”
Still, given the Queen’s good health–even with the occasional gastro bug–it could still be more than a decade before we see a King Charles III on the throne.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM - 0 Comments
Anyone watching the coverage of the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the investiture of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, as the nation’s first king in 123 years was struck by the cozy flavour of the day’s proceedings. Though it was an elaborate affair (the royal website has an exhaustive timetable of events) there was no doubt that, at its heart, this was a transfer within a family firm from a beloved mother to a loving son.
Amid the kisses, hugs and hand squeezes were some teary moments, especially when Beatrix signed away the throne. “Wherever the path leads, your wisdom and your warmth I carry with me,” said her son. “Thank you for the many wonderful years in which we were allowed to have you as our queen. She stood for the values anchored in the constitution. Dear mother, you were queen in full knowledge of the duties you had you were also a wife and mother, and you were fully aware of your duties there too. You were a great support to us all.”
It’s also a joyous moment. The Dutch monarchs have a long standing tradition of abdicating when the time is right. And Beatrix, a widow of 75, is clearly ready to pass on the torch to her son, his wife Máxima and their three daughters. And they did it on Queen’s Day (now King’s Day), a national holiday when the entire nation is drenched in orange, to honour the royal house of Orange.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM - 0 Comments
On Tuesday, the Netherlands gets a new monarch when Willem-Alexander exchanges his current title of crown prince for that of king. His mother, Beatrix, 75, is abdicating after 23 years on the throne.
On Queen’s Day (Apr. 30), a formal investiture will be held in Amsterdam, where the prince swears allegiance to the nation’s charter and constitution. It’s going to be a day packed with pageantry and pomp. But for all the excitement over getting its first king in 123 years, what a lot of people want to see is his new queen, Máxima. She’ll be the first queen from Argentina and comes with baggage. Daddy was a cabinet minister when a military junta ruthlessly ruled the South American country. Though he’s denied knowing about the torture and disappearances under the junta, he was barred from his daughter’s wedding and will watch the investiture on the telly. And the events keep haunting Máxima.
Máxima herself is immensely popular in the Netherlands. She’s vivacious, beautiful and has a knack for making ordinary folk feel comfortable. And she’s completely fluent in Dutch, which isn’t one of the easiest languages to learn. She’s also got a rather eclectic dress sense. There are times when she’s beautifully turned out, and times when she looks like she woke up late and ran out the door in a panic.
One thing is sure: she’ll be wearing one of the royal family’s tiaras—they have an unbelievable collection. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor has a great listing of all the ones she’s worn, and those of the family (scroll down on this link to the Netherlands section, then get ready to ooh and ahh).
She’s the first of a new generation of modern, fashionable queen consorts about to flood onto European thrones. Coming in the upcoming years are: Denmark’s Mary, originally from Australia; Letizia of Spain; Mette-Marit of Norway and Mathilde of Belgium. And of course Victoria of Sweden who will one day be upgraded to queen in her own right. Sure, some of their clothes choices are questionable (Mette-Marit: step right up) but they’re not afraid to be stylishly adventurous, and mix traditional designers with high street fashions.
So brace yourself, because Tuesday marks a whole new era for royal Europe.
By Patricia Treble - Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
For the first time in a decade, the Queen is in hospital, felled by a tummy bug. In its usual terse manner, Buckingham Palace announced:
“The Queen is being assessed at the King Edward VII Hospital, London, after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. As a precaution, all official engagements for this week will regrettably be either postponed or cancelled.”
The statement comes three days after the palace revealed the Queen was cancelling Saturday’s visit to Wales to present leeks to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh regiment on St. David’s Day. That announcement was the first indication she had a stomach bug: The Queen will no longer visit Swansea tomorrow as she is experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. She will be assessed in the coming days. Her Majesty is currently spending the weekend at Windsor, as usual.” The ancient castle has been her weekend home for the last 60 years.
For anyone who has had an elderly relative felled by gastroenteritis knows this isn’t something to be trifled with. According to the Centres for Disease Control, “Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the ‘stomach flu,’ although it is not caused by the influenza viruses.” It can start suddenly and is highly contagious–noroviruses notoriously turn cruise ships into medical disaster zones. While gastroenteritis isn’t serious for most, it can be for those who can’t drink enough fluids to replace what is being lost. For those, recovery involves a stay in hospital so they don’t become dehydrated.
The Queen, who turns 87 on April 21, isn’t one given to cancelling engagements just because she’s a bit under the weather. It has to be something major, such as a flare up of chronic back trouble that caused her to hand over duties at an investiture to Prince Charles last October rather than spend hours on her feet, leaning over to pin medals on recipients. Indeed, in 2012, her Diamond Jubilee year, she fulfilled 425 engagements and it was the bad health of Prince Philip–three hospital admissions in eight months including one for heart trouble–that had everyone concerned.
For the Queen, this current illness was serious enough that she was admitted to hospital, but not clearly bad enough that she couldn’t travel from Windsor Castle into London to the royal family’s favourite medical centre, King Edward VII Hospital. Still, her official visit to Italy that was set to start on March 6 is off. And that may not be a bad thing. She could not have been looking forward to landing in the middle of the chaos gripping Italy–its politics are being roiled by an inconclusive election (“Send in the clowns,” is a cover line on The Economist) and Rome is fixated by the upcoming election of a new pope. Though given Prince Philip’s propensity for colourful quips (here and here), it would have been a headline-generating visit.
By Philippe Lagassé - Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 11:48 AM - 0 Comments
Why the Conservatives must rethink their approach to succession
Canada’s most monarchist government in decades has just dealt a serious blow to the Canadian Crown. In an effort to quickly enact changes regarding royal succession, the government has introduced a bill that undermines the concept of a truly independent Canadian Crown, the foundation of Canadian sovereignty. Equally troubling, the government claims that altering succession to the throne does not require a constitutional amendment. In making this argument, the government has overlooked the very nature of the Crown in law and the Canadian constitution. However commonsensical the proposed changes to the law governing succession may be, such a cavalier approach to the Crown, to the foundation of sovereign authority of and in Canada, merits scrutiny.
Heritage Minister James Moore laid out the government’s thinking at a press conference this past Wednesday. According to the minister, succession to the throne is not a matter of Canadian law. Instead, succession is a question of British law alone. Only the British Parliament can set the rules for who ascends to the throne, while the Canadian Parliament’s only authority lies in assenting to the changes. Put differently, the authority to legislate the rules of succession belongs with the British Parliament because the Canadian constitution does not address matters of succession. The legal pretext for this interpretation is the preamble to the 1931 Statute of Westminster, which states that the United Kingdom will obtain the assent of the Dominions when altering succession to, and royal titles and styles of, their shared Crown.
For Mr. Moore, the absence of an explicit reference to succession in the codified parts of the Canadian constitution also explains why no constitutional amendment is needed to alter succession in Canada. Although the Constitution Act, 1982 states that changes to the “office of the Queen” require a constitutional amendment that is approved by Parliament and the provincial legislatures, the government interprets “office” to mean only those powers and privileges of the Crown that are identified in the codified constitution. Hence, succession doesn’t pertain to the office because succession isn’t mentioned in the codified constitution.
Unfortunately for the government, these interpretations of the Statute of Westminster and office of the Queen are problematic.
The conventions outlined in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster depended on the power of the United Kingdom to legislate for the Dominions and on the idea that all the realms were under a single Crown. Neither of these conditions holds anymore, as Australian legal scholar Anne Twomey has shown. When Canada and the other Dominions altered their royal styles and titles in 1953, the realms did not assent to British legislation; they legislated for themselves. And Canada’s act made no mention of the Statute of Westminster. In the 1970s Australia and New Zealand enacted new royal styles and titles without consulting the other Dominions, sapping the prescriptive authority of the Statute‘s preamble. Claims that the preamble still applies to succession were further undermined in the 1980s. The authority of the preamble depended on section 4 of the Statute, which allowed the British Parliament to legislate for the Dominions. The Canada Act, 1982 ended the British Parliament’s authority to legislate for Canada and abolished s. 4 of the Statute. Australia followed suited with the Australia Act, 1986, as did New Zealand with its Constitution Act, 1986. The United Kingdom is no longer able to legislate for Canada, Australia or New Zealand, even in matters of succession and even if they assent.
As important, the United Kingdom cannot legislate the succession to the Canadian throne because the British and Canadian Crown are no longer one and the same. The British and Canadian Crowns are legally distinct and independent entities.
The emergence of the distinct and independent Canadian Crown happened gradually and it took time to be properly recognized. Somewhat ironically, the process began with Statute of Westminster, which granted the Dominions legislative independence. As Canadian cabinets monopolized the authority to advise exercises of the Crown’s powers in right of Canada in the decades that followed, the idea of a Canadian Crown took shape. In the early 1950s, the title of Queen of Canada was created. During her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II was proclaimed the Queen of Canada. As the government’s own publication, A Crown of Maples notes, “The proclamation reaffirmed the newly crowned monarch’s position as Queen of Canada, a role totally independent from that as Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.”
The final step toward a distinct Canadian Crown was achieved in 1982, when the Canadian constitution was patriated and Canada became a fully sovereign and independent state. While the 1982 patriation ended Canada’s legal ties to Great Britain, the expanded Canadian constitution retained the Crown as the concept of the Canadian state and as ultimate source of sovereign authority in Canada. This fully independent Canadian state could not have the British Crown as the source of its sovereign authority. Nor could it be a shared Crown. The only way Canada could be completely sovereign and independent was to decouple the Canadian Crown from its British counterpart.
The fact that only the Canadian Parliament and provincial legislatures can amend the constitutionally entrenched office of the Queen is a testament to this development. The Canada Act, 1982 and Constitution Act, 1982 gave the Canadian Parliament and provincial legislatures absolute control over the office of the Canadian Sovereign and the wholly independent Canadian Crown. Any claim that Canada and Britain share a Crown in the legal or constitutional sense is therefore incompatible with the complete sovereignty that Canada achieved in 1982.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson implicitly admitted as much when the succession bill was introduced in the House of Commons on Wedenesday. The minister noted the Governor General had given the bill his consent, a requirement for any bill that touches on the powers and privileges of the Crown. Since the British Crown had already given its consent to the British succession bill and the Canadian government claims that the Crown is shared, it is unclear why the consent of the Governor General, the representative of the Queen of Canada, was required. The only plausible answer is that the succession bill affects the separate and distinct powers and privileges of the Canadian Crown.
If the United Kingdom cannot legislate the rules of succession for the Canadian Crown, it follows that Canada must have the power to determine the rules of succession for its Sovereign and head of state. At present, the Canadian rules of succession are those that were inherited from the United Kingdom. And an argument might be made that they must mirror those of Great Britain absent a constitutional amendment, owing to the preamble of the Constitution Act, 1867. But mirroring the British rules does not mean Canada can simply assent to British bills to bring its succession into line with the United Kingdom’s. If Canada is a sovereign state and has an independent Crown, the Canadian legislatures—Parliament and the provincial legislatures—must pass substantive legislation to ensure that Canada’s rules of succession reflect those of Great Britain, not merely assent to a British law. Here again, the Governor General’s granting of Crown consent to the Canadian bill indicates the government is at least partially aware the British and Canadian Crowns cannot be affected by the same British law.
If we accept that Canada is fully sovereign and that the Canadian Crown is fully independent, then there must be some part of the codified constitution that addresses succession, whether explicitly or implicitly. A strong case can be made that the “office of the Queen” mentioned in s.41(a) must be that provision that addresses the succession to the Canadian throne. Accordingly, any change to the succession to the throne must trigger the amending process identified by s.41(a).
Succession must pertain to the office of the Queen because of the Crown is a “corporation sole.” Corporations sole fuse an office and an office holder. The office and office holder are treated as synonymous in law. This means that, legally speaking, all references to the Queen, Her Majesty and the Crown in Canadian statutes and the constitution refer to the same thing. When the constitution speaks of the office of the Queen, then, it is referring to both the Sovereign and the Crown in the broadest sense.
Most importantly for our purposes, this further means that the office of the Queen extends not only to the current office holder, but to those who will succeed to the office. This is necessarily true precisely because the Crown is a corporation sole.
The purpose of having the Crown as a corporation sole is to ensure that successors to the office of the Sovereign retain all the powers, duties, constraints of the Crown when they ascend to the throne. Hence, when one monarch dies and is replaced by their successor, there is no need to reiterate the established powers, duties and constraints of the Crown. Nor is there any need to rewrite any statutes. Having the Crown as a corporation sole allows for a seamless and automatic transition between the current Sovereign and her successor. So, when the Prince of Wales becomes King Charles III, all references in Canadian statues and the constitution to the Queen and Her Majesty will automatically apply to him because the Crown is a corporation sole.
It is the idea of corporation sole that underlies the cry of “the king is dead; long live the king!” The Crown is never vacant and the Sovereign never dead because, as a corporation sole, the office of Queen (or King) is immediately filled by successors when a monarch passes. Hence, as the canonical jurist of English law William Blackstone noted when discussing the concept: “Corporations sole consist of one person only and his successors, in some particular fashion, who are incorporated in law, in order to give them some legal capacities and advantages, particularly that of perpetuity, which in their natural persons they could not have had. In this sense, the king is a sole corporation.” The office of the Queen necessarily refers to both the current Sovereign and her successors.
To reiterate, then, altering the rules of succession requires a constitutional amendment under s. 41(a) because the Crown is a corporation sole, a legal status that was purposefully designed to ensure that the office of the Queen includes matters of succession.
Recognizing that the Crown is a corporation sole also helps us answer the question that hovers over this entire discussion, namely: how can the Canadian and British Crown be distinct if they’re both personified by Elizabeth II?
The Canadian and British Crowns are distinct corporations sole. As a result, the Queen of Canada and Queen of the United Kingdom are legally distinct office holders, just as the Canadian Crown and British Crown are distinct offices. However, the natural person who occupies these offices, Elizabeth Windsor, is the same. One woman personifies distinct and separate offices. This means that the Canadian and British Crown are under a personal union, but not a legal or constitutional one. Elizabeth Windsor holds the legally independent offices of the Queen/Crown of Canada and the Queen/Crown of the United Kingdom. But when she acts as the Queen of Canada, she is not acting as the Queen of the United Kingdom. The fact that Elizabeth Windsor is both the Queen of Canada and the United Kingdom does not mean that the two states shared a single Crown or Sovereign.
To conclude, it is worth discussing what might happen if we accept the government’s argument that succession is only a matter of British law and that changes to the rules of succession do not require a constitutional amendment. The most obvious consequence of the government’s position is that Canadian republicans will have been proved right: the Crown is an inherently British entity and Canada cannot claim to be an independent state until our ties to the House of Windsor are cut or we become a republic. The government’s view would also mean that Canada would effectively cease to be a constitutional monarchy if the United Kingdom decided to become a republic. The concept that underlies Canada’s entire system of government, the Crown, could be dismantled by another country.
The government’s narrow construction of the office of the Queen under s. 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982 may lead to some interesting outcomes, too. If the office of the Queen covers only those powers of the Crown that are explicitly identified in the codified constitution, a future Parliament could pass various statutes to undermine the monarchy without consulting the provinces. One could image, for instance, a future Parliament passing a regency act that transforms the Governor General from the representative of the monarch to the personification of the Crown in Canada, owing to the Sovereign’s absence in Canada. Coupled with a new set of letters patent that transferred all of the Sovereign’s remaining authority to the Governor General, this regency act could be used to exclude the royal family from all Canadian affairs. Since this kind of act would not affect the powers of the Crown included in the codified constitution, Parliament could pass it without consulting the provinces. Of course, it is difficult to imagine that this was the intended spirit of s.41(a), but a narrow construction of the office of the Queen might allow it.
Suffice it to say, while the changes to the succession are laudable, a greater degree of caution and debate is warranted here.
Philippe Lagassé is an assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. He thanks James W.J. Bowden for his research assistance.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservatives have now tabled the legislation that will, in the words of the official news release, “end the practice of placing male heirs before their elder sisters in the line of succession” and “remove legal provisions that render heirs who marry Roman Catholics ineligible to succeed to the Throne.”
James Bowden and Philippe Lagasse argue this is a constitutional change that requires provincial consent.
According to s. 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, any amendment to the “office of the Queen” requires the unanimous consent of Parliament and the provincial legislatures. Arguably, the succession to the throne touches on the office of the Queen because the Crown is a corporation sole…
Of course, admitting that succession falls under s. 41(a) invites all sorts of unwanted political complications. It would allow any provincial legislature to block or slow a change to Canada’s rule of succession, and there is one particularly antimonarchical provincial government that might see this as a perfect occasion to create controversy.
The government argues otherwise.
The changes to the laws of succession do not require a constitutional amendment. The laws governing succession are UK law and are not part of Canada’s constitution. Specifically, they are not enumerated in the schedule to our Constitution Act, 1982 as part of the Constitution of Canada. Furthermore, the changes to the laws of succession do not constitute a change to the “office of The Queen”, as contemplated in theConstitution Act, 1982. The “office of The Queen” includes the Sovereign’s constitutional status, powers and rights in Canada. Neither the ban on the marriages of heirs to Roman Catholics, nor the common law governing male preference primogeniture, can properly be said to be royal powers or prerogatives in Canada. As the line of succession is therefore determined by UK law and not by the Sovereign, The Queen’s powers and rights have not been altered by the changes to the laws governing succession in Canada.
Meanwhile, British Labour MP Paul Flynn is proposing an amendment to the legislation in the British House that would allow for the possibility of a royal same-sex marriage.
MPs are being urged to consider what would happen if a gay king or queen had a child through artificial insemination or adoption. Labour MP Paul Flynn is tabling an amendment to the succession to the crown bill which would allow the child of a monarch in a civil union to become heir to the throne – even if they do not share the same royal bloodline.
By Patricia Treble - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 6:40 PM - 0 Comments
Being really, really close to the platform at the Capitol as President Barack Obama was sworn in was certainly a moving event. It’s also quite familiar to someone who follows the royal family closely. As I tweeted, “It’s really the U.S. version of the Diamond Jubilee service: pomp, military precision, stirring music, good sermon and it’s over in an hour.”
Going head-of-state to head-of-state, how do the big ceremonies compare?
Pomp: The Marines are impressive, the venue in Washington is spectacular, but when it comes to making a spectacle (in a good way), no one does it better than the British. The entire four-day weekend was organized to an inch of its life, and pulled off superbly. The Household Calvary riding down the Mall in London is a sight nearly impossible to beat. Winner: The Queen
Timing: Both the main swearing in ceremony in Washington and the service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral took just over an hour each. Never drag out blockbusters, a maxim that Steven Spielberg would do well to remember. Winner: Tie
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The At Issue panel takes viewer questions.
I’d like the Speaker to be more assertive on a couple fronts, but, in the context of Question Period, he can’t be asked to judge whether or not a question has been answered sufficiently. I think he should, just as he can cut off a question that doesn’t deal with the business of government, cut off a response that strays from the subject raised, but it’s problematic (and unworkable) to expect that he should be judging the quality of the response for the purposes of deciding when a question has truly been answered. I also disagree with Andrew’s suggestion that he should be able to compel a minister to stand. If the government side wants to hide a minister behind a designated deflector, that’s for the public to judge and the government to explain.
As for the way we elect our federal representatives, I’ve lately fallen for the idea of a ranked ballot. And unlike proportional representation or mixed-member proportional representation, I think a ranked ballot is something that could be widely accepted by the public and easily adopted.
(I’d happily be done with the monarchy, but, as Chantal says, it’s hard to imagine how that change would come about. If we’re looking around for things to abolish, it’d be more practical to focus on the Senate.)
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 2:26 PM - 0 Comments
While the Queen watches the boats float along the Thames, the NDP’s Pat Martin suggests it’s time we move past the monarchy.
Well I think I speak for a growing number of Canadians, Tom, who think that this is the right time to revisit whether we should cut our apron strings to the British Monarchy but I think what jelled it for me most recently was going to a Canadian citizenship ceremony that as an MP I get invited to often and watching these people from 30 or 40 different countries having to swear allegiance not to Canada but to the Queen and all of her heir and successors for time and memorial, it kind of just struck me at that moment that we are way out of touch with this and if anything, new Canadians should be swearing an oath of allegiance to their country Canada and not to this vestige of hangover of the Colonial Era …
Canadians aren’t you know baffled by shiny objects like the wedding of Will and Kate. We have to think beyond that. Your preamble to our conversation here is a good education for Canadians to remind themselves, isn’t it kind of goofy that our currency has the face of a foreign monarch? I mean, wouldn’t you rather have a Canadian as the head of state for Canada? Wouldn’t you like your son or daughter to someday be able to aspire to that goal? We are so wrongheaded that I think there’s a big appetite once Canadians think about it for a minute to severe those ties, there’s no justification and being a Member of Parliament, it kind offends me that we have to ask permission from the Queen to pass a piece of legislation, even though we know it’s just a pro forma thing that we’re going through, it’s just wrong.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 3:48 PM - 0 Comments
It may have only been a small notice in the Court Circular, a record of all duties by Britain’s royal family, but it caused editors and photographers to block off the date on their calendars, for it has the making of a photo-op unlike any other in recent royal history; on March 1, the Queen, Camilla, duchess of Cornwall and Kate, duchess of Cambridge will visit Fortnum & Mason, one of London’s most exclusive department stores, where the Queen will unveil a plaque marking the regeneration of Piccadilly.
So three generations of Windsors, aged respectively 85, 64 and 30, will be out and about together. And given Fortnum and Mason has a fabulous restaurant, there is speculation that they will have tea; an historic tea for a Queen and two future queens. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
For too long (in my humble opinion) valuable tabloid space has been monopolized by two classes of people you might call FFDN’s (Famous for Doing Nothings): the British Monarchy and The Housewives of Insert-American-City. The main difference between the two classes is that one class has some—class, that is—and the other doesn’t. The B.M., I will concede, is the winner in this regard, but it doesn’t stop them from being as tedious as the housewives. It seems as though every decent self-respecting celebrity rag has suddenly abandoned its traditional and proper focus on the cellulite and scandal of show-biz’s rich and famous, in favour of reality TV weddings and reluctant dog christenings. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 7:45 AM - 0 Comments
Abstract: This paper helps explain the variation in political turmoil observed in the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] during the Arab Spring. The region’s monarchies have been largely spared of violence while the “republics” have not. A theory about how a monarchy’s political culture solves a ruler’s credible commitment problem explains why this has been the case. Using a panel dataset of the MENA countries (1950-2006), I show that monarchs are less likely than non-monarchs to experience political instability, a result that holds across several measures. They are also more likely to respect the rule of law and property rights, and grow their economies. Through the use of an instrumental variable that proxies for a legacy of tribalism, the time that has elapsed since the Neolithic Revolution weighted by Land Quality, I show that this result runs from monarchy to political stability. The results are also robust to alternative political explanations and country fixed effects.
I wouldn’t suggest taking this classic bit of political science too seriously, with its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink regressions on a small data set and its inherently dubious use of an “instrumental variable” to ferret out causation. That said: Victor Menaldo’s basic observations would be hard to refute. Monarchies in the Middle East and North Africa have been stable relative to their republican neighbours; the replacement of a monarchy with a republic rarely if ever makes the people better off; and the monarchies in the region tend to be more liberal economically, even if they don’t have particularly liberal political structures.
In the ci-devant monarchies of the Arab and Persian world, nostalgia for overthrown Western-friendly regimes of the past seems fairly common. When the Libyans got rid of Gadhafi last year, for instance, they promptly restored the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya (1951-69), and some of the anti-Gadhafi protesters carried portraits of the deposed late king, Idris. From the vantage point of Canada, constitutional monarchy looks like a pretty good solution to the inherent problems of governing ethnically divided or clan-dominated places. And in most of the chaotic MENA countries, including Libya, there exist legitimist claimants who could be used to bring about constitutional restorations.
The most natural locale for such an experiment would have been Afghanistan, where republican governments have made repeated use of the old monarchical institution of the loya jirga or grand council. The U.S. met with overwhelming pressure from Afghans to include ex-king Zahir Shah in the first post-Taliban loya jirga in 2002, but twisted the old man’s arm to ensure that his participation would be no more than ceremonial. At least one South Asia analyst, Shireen Burki, thinks this was a regrettable missed opportunity that can only be attributed to reflexive suspicion of monarchism by U.S. officials.
“We don’t do kings,” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said when she was asked if restoration could help solve the problems of the south Slavs. “Pity you don’t,” the happy Commonwealth realms and the peaceable kingdoms of northern Europe might have added. The U.S. turned out to be more interested in easily-overwhelmed American clients like Ahmed Chalabi and Hamid Karzai; and how has that turned out?
By Adam Goldenberg - Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:12 PM - 0 Comments
One says he’s “a proven advocate for members.” Another says he’ll remove “obstacles to grassroots engagement.” A third wants the policy process to be “an effective tool for grassroots members.”
The people running to be the Liberal party’s next National Policy Chair are all preaching to the choir. Their fate is in the hands of Liberal delegates who took a day or two off work to fly to Ottawa to debate Liberal policy resolutions with other Liberals who took a day or two off work to fly to Ottawa to debate Liberal policy resolutions. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
His well-documented health problems pale in comparison to an intensifying corruption scandal centred on his son-in-law
This hasn’t been King Juan Carlos’s year. Since June, the Spanish monarch has had his right knee replaced, had surgery on his left Achilles, and suffered a black eye and injured nose after colliding with a door. However, all those health problems pale in comparison to an intensifying corruption scandal centred on his son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, that threatens to damage the monarchy itself.
Urdangarin is under investigation for allegedly siphoning millions from his non-profit foundation, the Nóos Institute, into private companies under his control. An Olympic handball player before being elevated to duke of Palma when he married the king’s younger daughter Infanta Cristina in 1997, Urdangarin headed the foundation from 2004 to 2006. As well, leaks from the prosecutor’s office in Palma, the capital of the Balearic Islands, state the institute charged inflated fees and prices on big public contracts to organize events in the region. Police have raided Urdangarin’s offices and removed documents. He’s expected to be named a formal suspect within weeks, with charges coming later.
Urdangarin broke his silence this week, telling the news agency EFE, “I deeply regret that [the accusations] are causing serious damage to the image of my family and the house of his majesty the king, who have nothing to do with my private activities.” His lawyer says “he is fully innocent.”
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 21 Comments
Will and Kate give the monarchy new blood and relevance. They gave everyone else a love story to remember.
In a year riven by political turmoil, economic malaise and rioting in the streets, a young, fresh-faced couple formally titled the duke and duchess of Cambridge (but affectionately known as Will and Kate) provided ongoing romantic relief—and distraction. The photogenic pair delighted the masses and were a boon to the media that tracked their every move, real and speculative. Their wedding gave the British economy—along with fascinator sales—a bump. More, it injected a much-needed adrenalin boost to the British royal family itself. Dutifully, smilingly, the duo restored a patina of glamour and vitality to an institution tarnished by divorce, scandal and tragedy.
Details of the preparations for their April 29 nuptials were meted out like a slow IV morphine drip on www.princeofwales.gov.uk: the Westminster Abbey venue, the guest list, the name of the wedding cake decorator. An estimated two billion people tuned in to watch the ceremony, a pitch-perfect spectacle of royal pomp amid government-mandated austerity. Millions clogged the streets, among them Jean Seaton, a professor of media history at the University of Westminster, who views the occasion as a rare moment of British unity: “People were enjoying it as a kind of celebration of themselves,” she says.
Part of the cheer stemmed from the faith that the couple’s love match was real, not staged like the prince’s parents’. The union of the blond son of a beloved princess to a comely commoner also suggested Buck House was evolving with the times. There was no discussion of virginity: the couple had lived together for eight years. The bride, derisively dubbed “Waity Katie” by the press before her engagement, proved her mettle over the years, coping with paparazzi and gossip. Her unwavering determination to play the role she now has, once a source of criticism, is her greatest strength—one necessary to navigate an institution known to destroy the women who enter it. “It’s a much more negotiated, tested entry [than Diana’s],” says Seaton, the BBC’s ofﬁcial historian. “She knows—to the extent she can—what she’s getting into.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM - 5 Comments
Reforms would see crown passed to first-born, regardless of gender
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will endorse a plan by David Cameron’s government in Britain to change the royal succession. Under Cameron’s proposal, the first-born child—whether male or female—would be eligible to inherit the throne, meaning the first child born to Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, would be in line to be king or queen, regardless of gender. (The privilege is currently limited to the first-born son.) A spokesperson for Harper says the Conservative government, which has recently been keen to show its monarchist colours, has no problem with the idea, provided it doesn’t distract Ottawa from its focus on “creating jobs and growth in the economy.”
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 14 Comments
Kate’s recent seclusion has gossip mills churning. But it’s all part of the plan.
William and Kate’s appearance last Thursday at the Royal Marsden hospital was the most ordinary of royal engagements. The duke and duchess of Cambridge opened a new children’s cancer centre. It’s the sort of duty that royalty undertake every day. Yet the visit was accorded superstar treatment by the world’s media, largely because it was just the second public engagement for the couple since completing their tour of Canada and America on July 10.
So an event that lasted a few hours generated stories well past the weekend—he’d pulled a 24-hour shift as a search and rescue pilot in Wales before rushing to the Surrey hospital, her engagement ring vanished during the visit! (She’d removed it and washed her hands before meeting patients with low immunity.) WhatKateWore.com, a site devoted to Kate’s fashion, saw its visitors on Thursday jump from an average of 8,000 a day to more than 20,000.
While gossips postulate Kate’s seclusion is because she’s either pregnant with twins or depressed because she’s too thin to conceive, the reason is more prosaic: it’s a long-term strategy by the royal household to ease her into a life of duty and unceasing attention by a curious world. Earlier this year, Judy Wade, the royal editor of Hello!, said, “We were told she’s not going to do much in the way of official engagements at all in the first few years because they want the marriage to work and they want her to have a gentle introduction into royal life.” (The recent royal tour is seen as a one-off variation from that plan.)
By John Fraser - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 0 Comments
William and Kate’s first great adventure as a married couple breathed new life into an old relationship
Amongst the unbelievers of the Crown in Canada, you could almost touch the chagrin, from sea to sea, as the extraordinarily successful 2011 royal tour unfolded last week. William and Kate, the newly minted duke and duchess of Cambridge, the future king and queen of Canada, didn’t just come and see and conquer: they vamped us. They did it with warmth and charm and youthful sexiness, then topped it all with a reminder, unambiguous and impossible to ignore, that the ties that bound us “from days of yore” still have the power to renew something very important in our history.
“Will and Kate” are now part of the Canadian story. A big part. Those monarchists who have tried over the years, like Queen Elizabeth II herself, not to be “fair-weather friends” were almost as stunned as the unbelievers as they watched this beautiful and caring young couple walk into our tale and hearts with such aplomb and grace that they seem to have started a whole new chapter.
It was more than just a gesture that, on Canada Day, Catherine wore the maple-leaf-shaped diamond pin the Queen wears so often when she comes to Canada and that had been loaned to the future queen for this trip, the first great adventure in the couple’s married lives after their storybook wedding. The brooch was also a kind of talisman of the past joining them to the future.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 0 Comments
Well-wishers outnumbered protesters 10 to one
If Ottawa provided the Kodachrome picture-postcard royal welcome, Quebec offered William and Catherine a more complex cinéma vérité depiction of the country they claim to want to know. Canada’s two solitudes collided during the couple’s two-day, two-city Quebec sojourn as separatist and anti-monarchist protesters, though in the minority, determined the agenda. Fear of a repeat of Prince Charles’s 2009 visit to Montreal, when eggs were hurled at his car, prompted organizers of William and Kate’s tour to not schedule walkabouts in the cities. Their concerns appeared founded, as several dozen protesters from pro-independence group Réseau de Résistance du Québécois appeared at Ste-Justine Hospital, the first stop of the couple’s eight-hour swing through Montreal. Chants of “Will and Kate, Will and Kate” vied with “royals go home” in French and English. And a few eggs were thrown, one landing on the back of an older woman who had waited hours in the sweltering heat.
Clearly forewarned, the duke and duchess exited their car briskly upon arrival, barely acknowledging the crowd. After an hour touring the neonatal, high-risk pregnancy and cancer wards, they exited under heavy security as black SUVs blocked the crowd of some 500—much to the crowd’s disappointment, including 11-year old Victoria Sicurello, who had hoped to hand Kate roses and a handmade card.
A similar 10-to-one well-wisher-to-protester ratio was evident at their next destination, the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, where they took part in a cooking lesson with students and dined on Brome Lake duck, Charlevoix lamb and an Îles-de-la-Madeleine lobster soufflé.
By John Geddes - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM - 43 Comments
I’ve never much liked the atmosphere surrounding royal visits. The anxiety many Canadians seem to feel about putting on a good show for titled foreigners and the press following them always strikes me as pathetic.
But by the end of Will and Kate’s tour, something else was at play. To me, it felt like our main concern had ceased to be about how Canada would come off, and shifted to being about how the young duke and duchess would perform. For instance, live news coverage yesterday left no doubt that everybody was rooting for William to speak well in his good-bye remarks in Calgary.
By the editors - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
A letter from the editors
They just might be the most redundant pictures ever taken. While the national and international media lavished attention on Prince William as he repeatedly practised a water landing in a Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter in Prince Edward Island this week, his wife, Catherine, insisted on snapping some pictures of her own.
Getting a few shots for the family scrapbook is the sort of thing a young couple might do on holiday. But during an official state visit it seems delightfully out of place. All of which suggests a royal tour—and a royal couple—that’s refreshingly different and new.
The event at Dalvay by the Sea this past Monday saw William, the duke of Cambridge instructed in “waterbirding,” a unique Canadian emergency technique in which a helicopter pilot lands on water during an engine failure. Prince William specifically requested this personal tutorial, given that he flies helicopters at his day job as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot based in Anglesey, Wales.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 224 Comments
COYNE: Perhaps we’ve grown out of our insecurities—and growing into the monarchy
Even before Prince William and his bride Kate had arrived in Canada—before they had visited their first cancer patient, or listened to their first war vet, before they had thrilled hundreds of thousands in Ottawa or talked with street kids in Quebec or surveyed the efforts to rebuild Slave Lake, Alta.—the nation’s newspaper columnists were sounding the alarm at the invasion. When, they sighed, would Canada grow up? Wasn’t it time to slough off these last vestiges of colonial rule? Of all the irrational, outmoded ideas: to choose a head of state on the basis of heredity.
As the trip wore on—as the prince greeted crowds in English and French and Dene and Inuvialuktun, visited the cradle of Confederation in Charlottetown, played road hockey in Yellowknife—the pundits’ mood only seemed to grow sourer. These hicks waving happily at the couple as they passed: was it not obvious they were simply in the thrall of celebrity? Could they not see the prince and his glamorous consort for the foreigners they are?
Nothing new here. The same party-poopers write the same diatribes every time royalty comes to town. But they have seldom seemed quite so out of step with the times, so…dated. In truth it is not the monarchy that is outmoded, it is the critics, invariably of a certain age, who seem unable to escape a time when asserting the country’s identity meant rejecting not only monarchy, but a long list of things that were supposedly holding us back. Perhaps what we are discovering on this tour is that the country has grown out of such adolescent insecurities. Perhaps we’re growing into the monarchy.
By Barbara Amiel - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 37 Comments
Lotsa luck Kate. Enjoy those bandage dresses while you can.
Unlike some observers of the duke and duchess of Cambridge, I am not, to borrow the easy grammar of a Globe and Mail columnist, “conflicted” by royalty. I’m often ambivalent about eating another chocolate biscuit and I certainly have conﬂicting feelings about whether to get another dog since my husband has said one more and he’s building a house for people, but a constitutional monarchy isn’t something that bothers me. As an organizing principle of society compared to religion or tribal rule it looks harmless.
Royalty may irritate some female columnists given the infernally good-looking crop of princesses these days, all of them young, size four and about six feet tall. As if it were not enough to be sporting about the stunning former Miss Kate Middleton, now we have the wincingly gorgeous South African champion swimmer Charlene Wittstock beaming next to new husband Prince Albert II of Monaco. I saw their wedding announcement in last Sunday’s New York Times.
The Monaco royal marriage did not get the featured spot in the Times’ wedding section, which is called “Vows” and is ever a gold mine of joyous moments in courtship. This week’s “Vows” was given over to Laura Hwang, a classical viola player and former cashier at Blue Apron Foods in Brooklyn who married Steve Rosenbush, a business writer. Steve had to spend up to $100 a visit getting to know Laura because obviously it’s tricky to chat up a cashier with an impatient lineup behind you. They were married by a Universal Life minister, an unfamiliar denomination but apparently used by almost every American Jewish person who marries a non-Jewish person.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 9 Comments
How a present from the Harpers—a historic copy of Maclean’s—links this tour with the one in 1939
All in all, it does make a charming souvenir gift. Just ask the Prime Minister. A copy of Maclean’s May 15, 1939, souvenir edition of the 27-day royal visit made by King George VI and his consort Queen Elizabeth—Prince William’s great-grandparents—formed part of a personal gift from Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, to the prince and his wife, Kate, on the occasion of their current visit to Canada. (The gift also included a copy of Chatelaine of similar vintage.) The 1939 royal tour of Canada, the first ever visit of a reigning monarch to the Crown’s senior dominion, was like no other royal visit before it, and Maclean’s, naturally, treated it as such.
In many ways the souvenir issue, with the king’s portrait on its cover, set the template for the magazine’s coverage of royal visits ever since. That included printing the Queen’s portrait first, on the cover of the otherwise business-as-usual May 1 issue: early recognition that the royal women, whether as rulers or consorts, from Elizabeth II to Diana, princess of Wales to Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, have always been the stars of the show. Photos were a huge part of the special edition, including a shot of the two royal children, who had been left at home for this arduous cross-continental odyssey: princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, seated at a piano.
But it wasn’t just that George VI was a reigning king that infused his arrival with historical significance, but rather how—by what right—he was reigning over us. In 1937, King George, the first monarch crowned since the 1931 Statute of Westminster established the full independence of the self-governing dominions, was also the first to swear in his coronation oath to govern Canada by its own laws and customs. The monarchy was now the final institutional glue holding the Empire (soon to be Commonwealth) together. Although not yet formally king of Canada—that legal change in title didn’t occur until his daughter’s reign—George was very much coming to his dominion in that capacity. The tour marked another step, both real and symbolic, on the long road to equality between motherland and former colony that had, so far, stretched from the Canadian Corps’ victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917 through Canada’s seat at the Versailles peace treaty negotiations two years later and the Westminster statute and the coronation oath.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:08 PM - 8 Comments
JJ McCullough questions some of the gushing over our apparently monarchist Prime Minister.
Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 1999, Opposition Leader Harper said he enjoyed the experience, but nevertheless felt the need to preface his comments by warning that “I’m not a strong monarchist, I’m really not.” In his wonderfully cynical 1997 US speech on the Canadian system of government, all he could likewise muster about the role of the Crown was a dryly comic observation that “our executive is the Queen, who doesn’t live here.” At his first throne speech, Harper similarly ditched the longstanding practice of wearing a full Victorian “morning suit” with striped pants and vest, outraging some monarchists at the time for his sartorial casualness on a royal occasion.
As far as I can tell, dismissive gestures like these are every bit as relevant to Harper’s understanding of the monarchy as his other, more cloying noises of support. Like most members of the Canadian political class, Harper politely respects the monarchy to the extent he is supposed to. He has no desire to change the status quo, but is not unaware of its absurdities and ironies, either. This is a position of pragmatism and institutional conservatism, and the republican in me doesn’t care much for it. But robust monarchism it is certainly not.
That first quote from Mr. Harper is actually from a 2002 interview, in which the leader of the opposition pronounced his meeting with the Queen to be the highlight of his year. Continue…