By Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 0 Comments
So after weeks of being consigned to the bargain basement of possible royal baby names, Alexandra has surged in recent days from 10:1 odds to a 2:1 favourite. (Even “Barack” makes an appearance, at 200:1, mind you.)
Well, way back in December–when the pregnancy was initially announced–everyone was plumping for Elizabeth, or possibly Diana.
Here was the list from Ladbrokes, the betting agency:
Yet, within hours of the news that Kate was in hospital with acute morning sickness, I’d created a list of my favourite names for the future monarch—five for a girl and the same number for a boy, along with my reasonings. The first choice? Alexandra (Philip was my top pick for a boy).
While no one is going to know who’s right and who’s wrong until the baby is born—Kate recently said it’s due mid-July—it’s kinda nice to think the world is coming around to my way of thinking. At least in Britain’s gambling shops.
By Jonathon Gatehouse, Martin Patriquin and Jaime J. Weinman - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
Names in the news
A regime vacation
Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles’s choice of Cuba for a few ﬂashbulb-streaked days off raised hackles in the U.S., which has had an embargo against the island country since 1960. Though the trip was cleared with the U.S. Treasury and therefore legal, critics wondered why one of the most famous couples in the world would visit a country with such an appalling human rights record. “There are a lot of better places they could go where they’re not feeding a monstrous regime,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida.
The bloom is off
Prince William may have to brush up on his ability to appeal to children before his wife has a baby. On a trip to Glasgow, Scotland, the prince tried to kiss a four-year-old Scottish girl in a princess costume, and the girl pulled away from him and hugged her mother for support, refusing to allow him near her or to give him the flower she was holding. William laughed it off and the girl handed the flower to Kate. The girl’s mother claimed she didn’t have anything personal against William, but simply “got really shy.”
Today’s special: prejudice
Dave Claringbould says rural Manitoba is not the friendliest place for an openly gay businessman. Claringbould and his partner started the Pots N Hands restaurant in the small town of Morris, near Winnipeg, only to announce four months later that they were closing down: they had received insults, including a customer who asked if he would catch sexually transmitted diseases from their food, and other customers stopped coming after finding out about their relationship. The publicity might save the restaurant, though; the premier of the province, Greg Selinger, has announced that he will eat there as a show of support for tolerance.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 8:16 AM - 0 Comments
“Her eyes are dead.” “She appears precision-made, machine made.” “Designed to breed in some manners.” Those are a few of the harsh comments directed at Kate, duchess of Cambridge by Hilary Mantel, who’s won two Booker prizes for instalments of her popular Thomas Cromwell series. They come from a biting lecture, “Royal Bodies,” delivered on Feb. 4 but just noticed by the press, at the British Museum for a London Review of Books series. While the lecture covers the baby-making qualities of everyone from Anne Boleyn to Marie Antoinette and Diana, princess of Wales, Mantel’s criticisms of Kate are its heart.
“Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions…Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture. Diana was capable of transforming herself from galumphing schoolgirl to ice queen, from wraith to Amazon. Kate seems capable of going from perfect bride to perfect mother, with no messy deviation.”
Even Prime Minister David Cameron stepped into the controversy, calling Mantel’s comments “completely misguided and completely wrong.” The tabloids, needless to say, have gone ballistic. And, for them, the timing couldn’t be better, for they could juxtapose Mantel’s biting works with new pictures of Kate. Tuesday, she appeared at her first engagement in two months. Showing off her baby bump in a close-fitting wrap dress, she visited one of her charities, Hope House, an addiction recovery centre foe women in London.
Though seemingly harsh for the sake gaining attention when it comes to Kate, Mantel’s lecture is also a rollickingly good read, especially when she highlights the regal gilded cage–”everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it’s still a cage”— in which the Windsors live:
“I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family doesn’t have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting? Aren’t they nice to look at? Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it’s still a cage.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:56 AM - 0 Comments
It is likely that the Canadian Government took the gamble of this approach in order to avoid the hassle of obtaining the agreement of the Provinces while banking upon the likelihood that no one would have the standing or motive to challenge it. Moreover, if the Duchess of Cambridge has a first-born son, it will avoid the problem of having a female monarch of the United Kingdom and a younger brother who becomes the monarch of Canada. Hence, the chances of getting by with such a constitutionally shoddy arrangement are reasonable.
Nonetheless, it shows a disappointing lack of understanding of the Crown and its divisible nature and a willingness on the part of Canadian politicians to sacrifice Canadian independence to avoid having to engage with the Provinces.
Update 12:42pm. And to all these concerns about the nature of our country, the House just shrugged and agreed to pass the bill unanimously at all stages.
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 Colby Cosh - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Colby Cosh on the Constitutional problem of a female heir
Is there perhaps a silent prayer sweeping stealthily across the ranks of Canada’s constitutional experts? “Please, Lord, let the duchess of Cambridge be delivered of a fine, healthy heir. And if you could see to it, let it be a boy. Or, if it’s a girl, make sure she only has younger sisters.”
When St. James’s Palace announced on Dec. 3 that the wife of HRH Prince William was great with child, the machinery of the Commonwealth was ready. The heads of government in the Queen’s various realms had, in October 2011, already agreed to a co-ordinated change in their statutes that will allow the Prince’s children to succeed in order of seniority, irrespective of sex. The necessary changes to British law, which affect acts as far back as 1351, are ready for parliamentary approval and scheduled to go through as early as possible in the new year, with the Canadian ones to follow. There is nary a whisper of dissent from any quarter. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
William and Kate have to pick a baby name that will be both modern and historic. No pressure then.
The minute the pregnancy was announced, bookmakers started taking bets on what name William and Kate would choose. Since this baby will eventually carry the title of “Queen” or “King,” a few names can be immediately nixed. The traditionalist couple won’t pick anything celebrity-like, so no Peaches or Apple or Blue Ivy for the Windsors. And though Diana will likely be honoured as a secondary name if it’s a girl—Charles and William each have four given names—her public campaign to stop Charles from becoming monarch makes it unlikely she’ll get top billing. Though William adores his granny, Elizabeth is probably out for two reasons: there have already been two British Queen Elizabeths in the last century: the current monarch and her mother. Furthermore, the Belgian heirs snagged the name for their future queen. So here are some early guesses. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Kate and William have toured Canada and served as cheerleaders-in-chief at the Summer Olympics. Together they will face a hyper-scrutinized pregnancy.
The statement Monday from St. James’s Palace had all the hallmarks of a rush job: “Their royal highnesses the duke and duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby,” began the terse statement. After a nod to the happy relatives, it concluded with the meat of the matter: “The duchess was admitted this afternoon to King Edward VII Hospital in central London with Hyperemesis gravidarum. As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, her royal highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter.”
As any parent will tell you, children have minds of their own, and so it was the potential future king or queen of Britain, Canada and 14 other realms who set the agenda in a most unpleasant way. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), as most everyone now knows, is a severe form of nausea and vomiting, an amped-up morning sickness that must have made Kate’s weekend visit to her parents’ home in Bucklebury, Berkshire, a hellish experience. Protocol should have dictated that William’s granny, Queen Elizabeth II, would have been the first to know her third great-grandchild and heir was on the way. But even if the couple hadn’t chosen that weekend to share the news of the pregnancy, Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, would have surmised it soon enough as their usually unflappable 30-year-old daughter made repeated dashes for the nearest bathroom. By Monday, her nausea was severe enough that a worried William was on the phone to doctors. That afternoon, he drove her into the city to King Edward VII, “London’s foremost private hospital.” He stayed with her until about 8:20 p.m. Monday, returning to the hospital Tuesday morning. Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:33 PM - 0 Comments
Parenting isn’t easy, but Kate and William’s baby will also be heir to the throne
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, as she was known back in 1936, was 10 years old when all of England heard the scandalous news. Her uncle, King Edward VIII, had abandoned the throne—ditching his royal obligations in favour of Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American woman he had been forbidden to marry. “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love,” he told his subjects in a stunning December radio address from Windsor.
Elizabeth’s father—Edward’s stammering and thoroughly insecure little brother Albert—was suddenly the king. And Elizabeth, his beloved elder daughter, was now the heiress presumptive.
“Does that mean you’ll be queen?” her younger sister, Margaret, famously asked.
“Yes, someday,” Elizabeth answered, as crowds gathered near the family home.
“Poor you,” Margaret said. Continue…
By John Fraser - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
Royal baby’s sex won’t hinder rise to the throne
If Kate ever wondered after her storybook wedding what it would be like when the full force of royal expectations and demands descended upon her, she knows it now. The ordinary miracle of pregnancy shared by a happy couple anywhere is always a cause for celebration, but a first pregnancy in the direct line of succession to the Crown was always bound to bring on a media frenzy. This one also comes complete with a historic constitutional blizzard.
The news that she and Prince William, the duchess and duke of Cambridge, are expecting their first child in a little over seven months will be greeted with joy in many quarters, indifference in some and gnashing of teeth in still others. That’s normal in an egalitarian age when deference to royalty vanished a long time ago but residual and even renewed and growing affection for Queen Elizabeth II and her “heirs and successors” has surprised many observers.
But this particular pregnancy is also fraught with constitutional heavy traffic, the likes of which royal watchers have not seen in a long time. For starters, the current law of succession in all of Elizabeth II’s realms—and there are 16 of them, including the United Kingdom and Canada—says a first-born girl can be trumped by a younger brother. Continue…
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Can Will and Kate give their child a semblance of a private life?
Prince William’s first public engagement came just 22 hours after his birth: a brief appearance on the steps of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, swaddled in a blanket and held in the awkward clutch of his father, Charles. As the crowd cheered, reporters bellowed and cameras strobed, the jug-eared heir to the British throne dutifully displayed his own, far more telegenic successor. Then he handed the infant off to a shyly smiling Diana, steered her gently by the various photographers’ positions and opened the rear door to their chauffeur-driven station wagon as the new family prepared to speed off home.
Thirty years on, the most striking thing about the footage is the absence of a car seat, or even seat belts for that matter. But the carefully choreographed unveiling was groundbreaking for its time. William Arthur Philip Louis was the first future sovereign to be born in a hospital. His father was actually there to witness his arrival. And, as with the couple’s fairy-tale wedding 11 months before, the public and press had been invited to share the joy almost every step of the way. The news of his birth may have been declared with a traditional 41-gun salute at the Tower of London, but there were modern touches mixed in as well. William would never be a commoner, but his parents, it seemed, were determined that he might find some common ground with them. Continue…
By Rosemary Westwood - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
The findings of the Leveson inquiry may alter coverage of the most anticipated baby since William himself
As soon as the royal baby story hit the wires, up popped the “live coverage” feeds on the Guardian and Telegraph news sites.
It’s the “only story that anybody on the royal beat is going to be working on for the next nine months,” declared the Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner. He predicted “feverish” coverage of the pregnancy before pronouncing it “the most anticipated baby since Prince William himself.”
But even as reporters and camera crews huddled outside the hospital where Kate was being treated for extreme morning sickness, anxious for more news (William leaving the building was about as dramatic as it got), British MPs were busy debating a controversial plan to reel in the more zealous members of the press.
The Leveson report calls for greater scrutiny of the media through a new independent regulatory body, backed up by legislation. It stems from the Leveson inquiry, the government’s response to the British phone-hacking scandal. Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the idea of a low-cost body to handle libel disputes, levy fines and even demand apologies. But, wary of too much legislative meddling, he dumped the file onto the desks of Fleet Street editors. Come up with a plan, he warned them, or expect a new press law. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:31 AM - 0 Comments
The duchess of Cambridge is officially pregnant, which means that print media will stay in business for at least another nine months—thanks in large part to my grandmother. Speaking of grandmothers, this one should probably invest in a car seat. And Will and Kate should put some parental controls on their computer.
In the mean time, We, lowly plebs of the north, secondary subjects of Widdleton, should get used to it: It’s going to be Will-and-Kate time all the time, perhaps until the end of time. Canada is really into its royals, especially when they learn our customs. And when they don’t.
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Celebrating a remarkable Diamond Jubilee year, our adored Queen is still going strong, in sensible shoes
In the week before Remembrance Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II trekked to the scenic London borough of Richmond Upon Thames to tour the Poppy Factory. She is patron of the Royal British Legion and Prince Harry, her gunship-flying grandson, is among the British and Commonwealth troops in peril in Afghanistan. She was greeted by local dignitaries, toured the production area, had a go at assembling a poppy, and met with staff and clients from the factory-funded employment program for wounded veterans. “The Poppy Factory hasn’t had a visit from the Queen for 20 years,” the facility’s chief executive would later remark. Not that you’d think anyone’s counting—but they are.
By any measure 2012 has been exceptional for the 86-year-old monarch. It marked her 60th year on the throne. She had a historic rapprochement with an ex-Provisional Irish Republican Army commander, whose group blew up her cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten 33 years ago. She presided over the opening ceremonies of London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, including a star turn with Daniel Craig’s James Bond. On Nov. 20, Elizabeth and 91-year-old Prince Philip observed their 65th wedding anniversary. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
It was 30 years ago today that a seven-lb. 1.5-ounce boy was born in London. His parents named him William Arthur Philip Louis. The world knows him as Prince William, second in line to the throne. After a year of intense attention everyone knows his biography (well, there could be a few people in a spiritual retreat in Bhutan who might not know his backstory). The London papers are full of reports about his $16-million inheritance from his mother that was held in trust until this day. There are mutterings about whether Kate is planning a big blowout party, or something much more low-key—if you believe Prince Harry, who never hesitates to take the piss out of his older brother, he’s become positively “middle aged,” preferring quiet night watching DVDs and eating home-cooked meals with Kate at their Anglesey home than hitting nightclubs until all hours of the morning. All a royal spokesman would say is, “He will spend some of his birthday at Highgrove, where he has been based this week, then whatever he does at the weekend will be low-key and private.”
Perhaps the Telegraph said it best:
Turning 30 is often seen as a symbolic moment, an assumption of adult responsibility after the carefree teens and twenties. But for the duke of Cambridge, who reaches that landmark today, responsibility has been a constant companion, in the form of duties to the military, charity and country that a few nights on the town will have done little to leaven. Even his marriage was soon interrupted by a six-week mission to the Falklands—and while the £10 million inheritance that he receives today might be welcome, it is also a reminder of a mother’s life cruelly cut short.
Given the pressure and scrutiny they are under, the Duke and his brother have emerged as remarkably well-balanced individuals, blending informality and charm with a constant awareness of their role. In doing so, they have made a very difficult job look effortlessly easy. We wish him many happy returns.
But along with the congratulations is a question beginning to loom above all others: Will he stay in the RAF after his three-year stint ends next year?
Certainly he’s excelled in his job. Earlier this month he passed a big test. As the BBC stated:
Prince William has qualified as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue captain, Clarence House has said. The duke of Cambridge passed his tests on 29 May. A spokesman said he was “pleased to have passed the milestone.” The prince serves with No 22 Squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey, north Wales. He had been serving as a co-pilot. Clarence House said he would now “command search and rescue operations in RAF Sea King helicopters.”
The prince completed two days of ground and air-based tests to achieve the qualification, following his two years of flying experience in the helicopter. He joined C Flight, 22 Squadron after graduating training in September 2010. Officer Commanding 22 Squadron, Wing Commander Mark Dunlop, said: “Flt. Lt. Wales demonstrated the required standards needed for the award of Operation Captaincy. Due to the nature of search-and-rescue operations, the required standards are always set at a very high level. Operational captaincy carries the overarching responsibility for the safety of the aircraft, its crew and any casualties.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said his tests had been carried out in “the normal timescale.”
The Daily Mail points out the dilemma:
It is difficult to convey just how much the prince loves his job as a search-and-rescue Sea King pilot, and the difference it has made to his outlook on life. As one confidante explains: “It is a core part of who he is. The confidence and contentment he has gained from his career has seeped into every aspect of his life.” For behind the controls of his helicopter, the prince is just another, anonymous member of the armed forces. Indeed, many of those he rescues—from walkers on Snowdonia to stranded sailors in the Irish Sea—have no idea that a future king has just saved their life. And having initially been desperately disappointed to be barred from frontline military service because of his position as a direct heir to the throne, that’s just how William prefers it. Sadly for the prince, however, the clock is ticking and his first, three-year tour of duty is due to end next spring.
He has to tell his superiors by the end of this year whether he wants to continue flying and is, as we speak, ‘very seriously’ weighing up his options. His gut instinct is to jump at the chance both because he loves it, and because he appreciates he is being the opportunity to lead a so-called normal life that few of his predecessors—his father included—have ever been given. Indeed, sources close to the prince are at pains to stress that neither the Queen nor Charles are putting “any pressure on him whatsoever,” and insist that he must do what is best for himself and for Kate.
But in his more realistic moments, William himself is the first to admit that “the pressures of my other life are building.” His 91-year-old grandfather’s two recent bouts of ill health—his heart surgery before Christmas and his recent hospitalisation after a bladder infection—have rammed home the unpalatable truth that the senior members of his family are not getting any younger, and it is time for a glamorous new generation to step into the fray. Another factor the prince is weighing up is his home on Anglesey, the island in North Wales, which has given himself and Kate the relative peace and anonymity they crave. If he decides to take all or part of a new 36-month tour of duty, then he will almost certainly have to transfer to a new base in a different part of the country. Do he and his wife have the stomach to start again? Particularly, of course, if the couple do have a child in the immediate future, as they have both indicated they are keen to do.
And of course there’s that other little announcement everyone can’t wait to hear: something about a baby?
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 Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM - 0 Comments
A controversial new book says her mental illness hurt her son and has even affected his relationship with Kate
On the day of the funeral of Diana, princess of Wales—a sunny Saturday in September 1997—there was one small item that broke a million hearts in a city, and a nation, already awash in grief. A bouquet of white freesias sat atop her coffin as it rode on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey. Nestled in the flowers was an envelope with a single word—“MUMMY”—printed in a child’s hand. Walking behind were its authors, princes William, 15, and Harry, 12, accompanied by their father, Prince Charles, their grandfather, Prince Philip, and their embittered uncle, Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother. At the time, those of us covering the funeral, and millions more watching on London’s streets and on televisions around the world, wondered what these wounded young lads could possibly have said to make sense of the tragedy that befell their mother, and the circus of grief it spawned.
That note also touched a deep chord with Penny Junor, a veteran royal watcher and the author of the newly published Prince William: Born to be King, which manages to be both a sympathetic portrait of the future king and a controversial examination of an upbringing that was scarred by tumult, loss and Diana’s mental fragility. “I thought it was incredibly touching,” she said of the note. It was only through the wise intervention of Sandy Henney, Prince Charles’s press secretary at the time, that the boys’ farewell words to their mother were sealed in an envelope, protected from the reach of the hundreds of telephoto lenses lining the funeral route. “Their lives had been so intruded upon by the media,” Junor said in an interview with Maclean’s. “That would have been the end of their world if their little note to their mother had been picked up by those lenses.”
In fact, the privacy of William and Harry’s lives had been trammelled from birth. Long before their mother’s death, they endured the loss of loved ones who fell out of favour with their parents, and the rage, tears and public humiliation of the marriage breakup that left them caught between the warring camps of mother and father. “He would be superhuman if he didn’t have demons,” Junor writes of William. “But he keeps them to himself; he is one of the most intensely private people you could meet.”
By Richard Warnica - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM - 0 Comments
Vancouver’s pot-friendly mayor, Dr. Seuss’s trouble-making turtle, and Obama’s ‘really big stick’
Winning a big lottery jackpot once is improbable. Twice? That’s near impossible. But don’t tell that to Virginia Fike. The Berryville, Va., woman bought two winning tickets to a single Powerball draw recently. Each one was worth a cool US$1 million. After taxes, Fike will take home about US$1.4 million—not a bad haul for what started as a stop at the gas station. Fike found out she’d won while visiting her mother in the hospital. She plans to spend the money on her parents and bills.
Pipelines, no. Pot farms, yes.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has come a long way from the juice farm. The former organic smoothie magnate has an iron grip on city hall. Now he’s flexing his political muscle outside his own jurisdiction. Robertson wrote a comment piece for the Vancouver Sun urging the federal government to think twice about a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion that could nearly triple the number of oil tankers off Vancouver’s coast. Days later, he added his name to an open letter calling for the legalization and taxation of marijuana. Seven other B.C. mayors also signed the letter, but Robertson’s name was by far the most prominent on the page.
By Colby Cosh - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 3:58 AM - 0 Comments
Argentina, the world press tells us, intends to rename its top soccer league the “Cruiser General Belgrano First Division”, in honour of the Argentine ship sunk by the Royal Navy during the 1982 Falklands War. Far be it from any outsider to prescribe how a country honours its war dead, but honour is not what the move is about: it’s part of a continuing, exhausting barrage of Falklands agitprop from Argentina’s Kirchner government. Kirchner is scrambling to keep Argentine economic growth rolling, barracking businesses and workers in the classic caudillo manner as inflation outpaces the dubious official statistics. She has tried, with some success, to close off Southern Hemisphere ports to boats flying the maritime flag of the Falklands and to weld traditionally UK-friendly neighbours into a regional bloc against “colonialism”. Tensions are high and the Falkland Islanders are feeling besieged. Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 20 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 Patricia Treble - Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 2 Comments
Filled with items that are less than $100 apiece, Pippa Middleton’s wardrobe is easy to emulate
Every day that Pippa Middleton goes to her office in London, she runs a gauntlet of photographers eager to snap her picture. Because her older sister Kate, a.k.a. HRH the duchess of Cambridge, is often secluded on a rainy Welsh island with her husband or behind palace walls getting a private introduction to royal life, it is Pippa who bears the brunt of tabloid fascination, something she does with the trademark Middleton silence and polite smile.
While the public is curious about her love life (the latest rumour has her breaking up with boyfriend Alex Loudon) and her work in the party planning sector (reports are swirling that a publisher wants to hand her $1.5 million for a book on the subject), those areas are dwarfed by interest in her clothes. That hasn’t diminished since she wore that plunging, form-fitting bridesmaid dress at her sister’s wedding to Prince William.
Interestingly, while big sister mixes the occasional inexpensive outfit—such as a $300 Reiss dress to chat with the Obamas at Buckingham Palace—into her increasingly high-end fashion rotation, Pippa eschews couture houses and instead buys the bulk of her daywear in the affordable retail stores that dot the main streets and malls of almost every country in the world, including Zara, French Connection and H&M.
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 macleans.ca - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Kate is pregnant (or not), Diamond is engaged (again), and Manning gets a new uniform (of sorts)
Peyton Manning played his first professional football game in 1998. Over the next 13 years, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback didn’t miss a single start, suiting up for 227 consecutive kickoffs. But that gridiron streak—and his team’s hope for a Super Bowl berth—were tackled last week when Manning underwent a second round of neck surgery that is certain to keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the season. (For those fans who won’t recognize him without a jersey, he’ll be the guy wearing a cervical collar.) Who will replace Manning on the line of scrimmage? One name being bandied about is Brett Favre, the legendary quarterback who holds the record for consecutive starts (297). Favre, of course, says he is happily retired. But we’ve heard that before. Twice.
On the ropes
When Arturo “Thunder” Gatti was found dead in a Brazilian vacation home two years ago, local police concluded that the Montreal boxer had committed suicide. But a recent re-examination of the evidence—and some stunning courtroom testimony—have pointed the finger at someone else: Gatti’s widow, Amanda Rodrigues. In a report now being reviewed by the original investigators, a team of U.S. experts says the boxer’s body contained severe head wounds consistent with a beating, and that the official finding (that Gatti hung himself with a purse strap) is “pure, unadulterated fiction.” Meanwhile, during a court battle over Gatti’s $6-million estate, one friend testified that Rodrigues was an abusive wife who threatened her husband, sucker-punched him on numerous occasions, and forced him to rewrite his will just three weeks before his death.
If Bob Dechert was smiling on the evening of April 19, 2010, as he stood to vote in the House of Commons, he was apparently not simply delighting in the democratic process. “If you have time, watch on TV or on your computer . . . and I will smile at you,” he wrote to Shi Rong, a journalist with China’s Xinhua News Agency. The parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs was forced to acknowledge that note and a series of other “flirtatious” emails after his missives were distributed around Ottawa last week. Dechert’s official biography describes him as a married man and he says his relationship with Shi was “innocent,” but security analysts fret that his correspondence with a member of China’s state-run news service raises concerns about national security and espionage. The Prime Minister’s Office says it has no information to indicate Dechert did anything inappropriate.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 11:25 AM - 34 Comments
John Baird redecorates the Foreign Affairs building.
A pair of historic paintings by Quebec modern master Alfred Pellan were removed from their decades-old spot and replaced by a 2002 photo portrait of the Queen late last month. The change was ordered before the visit of Prince William and Kate in late June, and took some staff by surprise when they entered the Lester B. Pearson Building after the long weekend.
The large, brightly-coloured Pellan paintings, called “Canada West Canada East,” show two coasts — one with details such as totem poles and the Coastal Mountains, the other featuring fishermen, moose and sailboats. They have hung in the spot above the reception desk since the Queen opened the building in 1973, and the faint outlines of the works are still visible on the brown stone wall around her newly-hung photograph.
Shortly after Stephen Harper moved into the Prime Minister’s Office, a member of his staff similarly ensured a picture of Her Majesty was found and hung.
By Anne Kingston - Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM - 18 Comments
The pressure to be thin is true for a duchess and women in the public eye
When an already slender Kate Middleton lost an estimated 20 lb. between her November 2010 engagement and April 2011 wedding, the reaction from a society that upholds size 00 as a fashion ideal was predictable: however did she do it? Rumours that her mother introduced her to a low-carbohydrate regime devised by French doctor Pierre Dukan catapulted the 30-year-old The Dukan Diet onto bestseller lists worldwide.
But Middleton’s rapid weight loss also gave rise to concern, particularly among those who remembered Prince William’s mother’s struggle with bulimia. Back in March, Belfast resident Heather Lindsay reportedly advised Prince William’s fiancée “not to lose any more weight” when she shook hands with her during a walkabout. Lindsay later reported Middleton laughed and said it was “part of the wedding plan.” At the time, few questioned that logic. The spectre of brides dropping several dress sizes before their big day is part of the wedding script, one even encouraged by reality TV shows like Bridal Bootcamp. And no bride was under more scrutiny than Middleton.
But the duchess of Cambridge’s disturbingly rail-thin appearance during her Canadian tour, one not fully captured by cameras, suggests the weight loss was more than wedding jitters. It was a subject of rabid discussion among journalists covering the tour, though rarely mentioned in their reports, primarily because the topic is not part of the fairy-tale narrative that William and Catherine embody—one that sells newspapers and magazines. One British journalist, a veteran royal watcher, puts it thus: “Her weight is simply not discussed.” Some reporters, especially women, are reluctant to engage in “body-snarking,” the common practice of criticizing women in the public eye for their physical appearance, and they’ve chosen not to add to the immense pressure the duchess already is under.