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, May 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
She’s visited her northern realm 23 times, including her last visit in 2010. But in a clear sign that Queen Elizabeth II is seriously scaling down overseas visits, she’s bowed out of the Commonwealth leaders conference scheduled for November in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.
“I can confirm that the Queen will be represented by the Prince of Wales,” a palace spokesman told the media today. ”The reason is that we are reviewing the amount of long-haul travel that is taken by the Queen.” They are also dropping strong hints that long-distance foreign visits are a thing of the past, which is bad news to realms such as Australia and New Zealand.
For the Queen, who is deeply committed to the Commonwealth, not to attend the conference is a sign that she’s finally heeding her advisers and easing up on a schedule that would exhaust someone half her age. She’s now 87 and though she undertook 425 engagements last year, all were in Britain. During 2012, the royal household hit upon a clever idea: she and Philip stayed in Britain while the rest of the Windsors were sent to the Commonwealth to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 5:24 PM - 0 Comments
Recently the health of the older generation of royals has been under a microscope. First the Queen all but disappeared from view after she was admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis on March 4. Big public engagements were cancelled, including a trip to Italy, though she did continue with those that were in the safe confines of royal residences.
Finally, on Wednesday, she moved back into the limelight, going to the Baker Street Station of the London Underground for the 150th anniversary of the oldest subway system in the world.
Then today, Buckingham Palace confirmed that her cousin, HRH Prince Edward, duke of Kent, was admitted to hospital. He’d suffered a minor stroke, sources said. All of his engagements have been cancelled.
And that brings up a demographic time bomb placed at the heart of the Windsor team. For, according to Tim O’Donovan’s meticulous accounting of annual royal duties, members of the family undertook 4,470 engagements in 2012. And of those, 25 per cent were done by Windsors over the age of 76, including the Queen, Prince Philip, the duke of Kent and his sister, Princess Alexandra. Extend the group of royals to those age 60 and older and the number jumps to 3,019 or 67 per cent.
By Emily Senger - Monday, March 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM - 0 Comments
Queen Elizabeth has been discharged from hospital where she was admitted over the weekend…
Earlier reports said the Queen was expected to remain in hospital Monday, and be back at Buckingham Palace as soon as Tuesday, but the Daily Mail snapped photos of the smiling monarch leaving the King Edward VII Hospital around 2:45 p.m. local time on Monday.
“The Queen emerged from the hospital at 2.43 p.m. looking well and smiling broadly as she thanked staff and shook hands with a nurse,” reports The Telegraph.
This brief stay was the first time in a decade that the 86-year-old Queen has been admitted to hospital. The last time she was admitted was for knee surgery.
The Queen has cancelled engagements for the coming week, including a planned visit to Rome on Wednesday and Thursday. She is expected to spend the rest of the week resting.
By Emily Senger - Monday, March 4, 2013 at 8:27 AM - 0 Comments
The Queen remains in a London hospital after being admitted over the weekend with…
The Queen remains in a London hospital after being admitted over the weekend with symptoms of gastroenteritis.
Though the Queen is expected to remain in hospital Monday, she is reported to be “in good spirits” and could be back at Buckingham Palace as soon as Tuesday, says The Telegraph.
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 macleans.ca - Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 11:57 AM - 0 Comments
The Queen has been admitted to King Edward VII hospital in central London after…
The Queen has been admitted to King Edward VII hospital in central London after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis.
The 86-year-old monarch, who is expected to remain in hospital for two days while her condition is assessed, “was last in hospital 10 years ago, when she was admitted to the King Edward VII for surgery to remove a torn cartilage from her right knee and lesions from her face,” reports the Guardian. ”She was driven to the hospital in Marylebone by private car from Windsor Castle, where she had been resting.”
“As a precaution, all official engagements for this week will regrettably be either postponed or cancelled,” said a spokesman for the Queen. This includes a two-day trip to Rome with the Duke of Edinburgh that had been planned for Wednesday.
He also noted that the Queen said she was in good spirits and was otherwise in good health besides the symptoms of gastroenteritis.
“This is a precautionary measure. She was not taken into hospital immediately after feeling the symptoms. This is simply to enable doctors to better assess her.”
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 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 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 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 Tamsin McMahon - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
No joke: 21 people and 74 pages of emails
How many federal officials does it take to answer a few questions about a $500 grant for a tea party in Prince Edward Island in honour of the Queen?
According to e-mails recently released by the federal government under Access to Information, the answer is: 21.
Back in May, Maclean’s decided to write a small light-hearted story about the federal government’s $2 million fund for cities and towns to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Local media stories in Prince Edward Island highlighted the fact that the tiny province had been budgeted to receive $170,000, the second-largest sum in the country, behind Ontario. It was a surprising fact given that Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, hadn’t actually planned any stops in PEI on their Canadian tour.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 12:34 PM - 0 Comments
Twice today–once in private, once in public–Queen Elizabeth II, head of the British military, shook hands with Martin McGuinness, a former commander of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who is now the province’s deputy first minister. The moments mark a milestone in the still-fragile peace in Northern Ireland.
As the Belfast Telegraph explains:
By shaking the Queen’s hand he is doing the right thing. It is a hugely symbolic gesture and an unequivocal sign that politics in Northern Ireland has undergone a sea-change. Mr McGuinness says his gesture is the equivalent of shaking the hand of every unionist in the province. That might be overstating the situation but it certainly is extending the hand of friendship. He is to be commended for it.
The meeting comes a day after the Queen visited Enniskillen, scene of the IRA’s most notorious atrocity during the Troubles, when it bombed a Remembrance Day service in 1987, killing 11 people. The carefully choreographed meeting was almost inevitable after McGuinness and the rest of Sinn Fein were heavily criticized for churlishly boycotting her first official visit to the Republic of Ireland, when her her conciliatory speeches and gestures won over critics.
It wasn’t an easy moment for the Queen, meeting a convicted terrorist of an organization that wanted her dead. As the Telegraph states:
Mr McGuinness was convicted of IRA membership by the Republic of Ireland’s Special Criminal Court in 1973 after being caught with a car containing 250lb (113kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition.
Though McGuinness says he left his command position in 1974, many say he continued to be a senior commander. As the Telegraph continues:
Ed Moloney, a historian of the IRA, says Mr McGuinness was its chief of staff from February 1978 to the autumn of 1982. Subsequently, said Moloney, he was the IRA’s adjutant-general, commander of Northern Command and chairman of the Army Council: top leadership roles throughout the Provos’ most savage years.
Patrick Byrne, a former Garda commissioner, told the Sunday Telegraph: “I am surprised at Martin McGuinness’s assertion that he stood down from the Provisional IRA in 1974. I dealt directly with counter-terrorism from 1972 to 1992. McGuinness was a key man in the organisation.”
There have been persistent reports that McGuinness approved the Enniskillen bombing, and that of the Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was assassinated in 1979 when his boat was bombed. Also killed was his mother-in-law, young grandson and a local boy. Other family members were seriously injured.
If the meeting was hard for the Queen, then it was equally difficult for McGuinness. The symbolic handshake hasn’t been warmly received by some Catholics, as Antony McIntyre explains in the Guardian:
McGuinness will not be standing in front of the British head of state on equal terms, as head of another state that had gained its independence from Britain. He is there as deputy head of a state over which the British hold unalloyed sovereignty and which he ostensibly spent much of his adult life trying to destroy.
Peter Hain, the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has said that “many republicans will see it as a betrayal“. He is right. They will feel that McGuinness and Sinn Féin have not simply compromised core principles but also abandoned them, principles in pursuit of which he and his colleagues in positions of leadership directed others to both take life and risk losing their own.
In County Derry, where McGuinness is domiciled, graffiti has appearedon walls – “U Dare Marty” and “Sinn Féin sellouts”. At a rally in south Armagh on Sunday, McGuinness was denounced as a traitor who had persistently lied to his volunteers. Despite the intemperate language in which it is sometimes expressed, the substance of republican opposition to the meeting does not render it the perspective of past-hugging dinosaurs.
In the end, it was just a handshake. After the meeting, McGuinness, now a leading politician for the Catholic party Sinn Fein, said, “It was good. It was very nice.”
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM - 0 Comments
Unlike the punters in Britain who laid down thousands on what hat the Queen would wear for each of the five days of Royal Ascot (see my story about that here), I only put my reputation on the line for her hat colour on Ladies’ Day, the biggest fashion spectacle—good bad and very, very ugly—of the entire horseracing calendar. Considering I’m not that good at predicting regal colour co-ordination—I thought Queen Elizabeth II would wear yellow for her big Diamond Jubilee church service while she turned up in mint green—I didn’t even consider putting up money. Still, I put some thought into the bet. For her four-day Diamond Jubilee weekend she wore blue, white, gold and green outfits. So I scratched those off my list. And she wore more blue during her Diamond Jubilee event in Nottingham with William and Kate. So I wanted something she wears a lot, but that hadn’t been seen recently.
My vote: purple. According to Vogue, which analyzed a year’s worth of the Queen’s wardrobe, she wears it 10 per cent of the time. Also, she looks amazing in it. And bookmaker William Hill was giving the shade 6-1 odds while Paddy Power had it tied with pink at 6-4. I couldn’t lose.
Wrong again. For today’s Ladies’ Day, she wore mint green (10-1 at Paddy Power and 6-1 at William Hill). Sigh.
Well, at least I wasn’t alone. Ella Kay of the delicious Mad Hattery! blog had gone out on a limb with red (12-1 at Paddy Power and 20-1 at William Hill.) Her choice was slightly redeemed by Carole Middleton, Kate’s mum, who wore deep red for her carriage ride down the course. FYI: Only very, very special guests of the Queen get carriage rides. Everyone else uses those fancy contraptions called cars.
But there are still two days left of Royal Ascot, and considering that the Queen hasn’t missed a day of this event since 1945, my fingers remain crossed for purple to pop up into her hat rotation.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 1:52 PM - 0 Comments
Each year the high and mighty from around the world gather at Ascot. While there are horses running around the track at regular intervals, most attention is spent on watching ladies dress up in their finest frocks, with equally extravagant hats.
Fashion aside, Royal Ascot is very, very big business. An estimated $640-million worth of bets will be plunked down during the five days of the annual horse racing extravaganza. And a hefty chunk of that gambling revolves around the most frivolous of bets: what colour of hat the Queen will wear each day, but especially on Thursday’s Ladies’ Day, when women pull out all their fashion show-stoppers.
This year Paddy Power is offering 6-4 odds on purple or pink, while plain salmon gets 9-1 and salmon with black spots gets 100-1. For those with money to burn, the betting site is offering 1000-1 if the Queen is seen with a “Union Jack baseball cap worn backwards.” Bookmaker William Hill has 4-1 odds on blue (highly unlikely given the monarch wore that colour on the first day of the races), 5-1 on purple and 50-1 on “the Queen wears the same hat or coat she wore during the five days of the jubilee celebrations on Ladies’ Day.” Interestingly, William Hill is only offering 10-1 odds on this seemingly impossible combo: “The Queen to have a Union Jack somewhere visible on her ladies’ Day outfit (including accessories such as hat, handbag and shoes.)” Maybe they’re thinking back to Epsom, during the Diamond Jubilee weekend, when her granddaughter Princess Eugenie sported patriotic nail fashion.
But betting isn’t restricted to to the fickleness of fashion: this year William Hill is offering odds on who will be turned away or kicked out of the Royal Enclosure. Celebs from Big Brother are getting 4-1 odds, while the Queen’s grandson-in-law, rugby player Mike Tindall gets 50-1 odds. That’s because the fascination with fascinators—just look at the millinery of Kate, duchess of Cambridge—has ended, at least at this racetrack. Royal Ascot has had its fill of the current less-is-best fashions and after years of hemlines creeping ever upward and hats shrinking into little more than feathered pompoms, the taste arbiters at Britain’s grandest racetrack have gotten out their rulers to enforce more conservative clothing requirements.
Ladies are kindly reminded that formal day wear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure, defined as follows:
- Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer
- Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater
- Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code
- Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full length and of matching material and colour
- Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:
- Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch (2.5cm) are not permitted
- Midriffs must be covered
- Fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm).
They’ve even placed fashion police at the entrances to the Royal Enclosure armed with pashminas, ties and other bits and bobs to allow those who’ve crossed over the fashion line a chance redeem themselves, and thus get into the most exclusive part of the racetrack.
While all this royal betting seems harmless, there is a darker side. In 2008, William Hill reported higher-than-normal betting on the Queen wearing a fascinator—then still on the approved list—to Ladies’ Day. “We slashed our odds from 10-1 to 5-1 for the fascinator at 3:30 p.m. yesterday after several large three-figure sums were bet,” a spokesman told the Daily Telegraph. “It was a warning signal we thought some information may have leaked out of the palace. More bets kept being put on the fascinator this morning and we closed the books at 10:30 a.m.” At the same time Paddy Power was experiencing a deluge of bets on red, slashing the odds from 20-1 to 1-3. (One can only imagine a down-on-his-luck footman or page texting a buddy or two, “QEII has red pom-pom on head. Bet big!”) Alas, the Queen confounded those who thought they had an inside edge. She wore pastel blue.
Of course, all those bets are dwarfed by the mother of all royal gambles—when William and Kate will have a baby. William Hill is offering 7-4 odds for a 2012 birth with 2013 next at 8-13. Even the future monarch’s name is up for grabs. Currently John (8-1) and Frances (9-1) are leading the pack.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, June 15, 2012 at 3:04 PM - 0 Comments
On Saturday, it’s the Queen’s birthday. No, not her real one (that’s on April 21), but rather her “official” me day, held in June in the hopes for better weather for all the troops that gather for the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony. Then on Monday, everyone moves to Windsor Castle for a church service for members of the Order of the Garter, the world’s oldest order of chivalry, and certainly one with the kookiest outfits. And finally, a week of pure fun and delight for the Queen—watching horses race at Ascot.
It’s also one of the rare times when the family gathers together—well, rare when there isn’t a Diamond Jubilee and Olympics in the same summer. The entire Windsor clan—the women wearing some serious millinery—watches the military parade in London and then goes out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Ditto for the Garter ceremony and Ascot. The Mad Hattery website will cheekily comment on all the hits and misses. And while most observers will casually notice what the Queen is wearing, others will be plunking down serious money on the colour of hat she’ll wear each day of Ascot. This is a country that will gamble on almost anything. Betting agent William Hill is giving 4-1 odds on blue, while straw is a wild card at 100-1. (Last year, William Hill and most punters were caught offguard when she wore pink to Ladies Day.)
Then there are more discreet bets on her jewelry. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor, which does a brilliant job at keeping up with royal fashions, has analyzed the last six year’s worth of brooches—Elizabeth II is never seen at an official function without a pin—to give royal jewelry aficionados background for this year’s display.
But the biggest guessing game will be over whether Prince Philip will be seen by her side. And if so, then where, and for how long. After spending five days in hospital for a bladder infection, he hasn’t been seen since leaving the London hospital last Saturday. Though the Court Circular, which tracks all official engagements, didn’t have him taking part in the Trooping the Colour, the palace finally confirmed on Friday that yes, he will be there.
Still up in the air is Monday’s Order of the Garter ceremony, in which participants endure a long walk while wearing incredibly heavy and cumbersome robes. If he’s smart (and not too stubborn), he’d give it a miss and pop back up at Ascot, where it’s a lot easier to vanish into the crowds.
It’s the last best royal show until the opening of the London Olympic Games on July 27.
On your mark, get set, go!
By Ken MacQueen, Nicholas Köhler, and Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM - 0 Comments
The mayor who cheesed off Obama, an Ottawa man’s unfortunate likeness, and taking flak for hating Nickelback
Granny will be so proud
It was third-time lucky for Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II. Horse injuries forced her from Olympic contention in 2004 and 2008, but now she has been selected for London 2012. Zara’s father, Mark Phillips, and mother, Princess Anne, were also Olympic equestrians.
Kids, just spinning their wheels
Jacques Villeneuve is a bit young, at 41, to be a grumpy old man, but he would seem to prefer that the kids get off his lawn, as it were. When protesters in Montreal threatened the Formula One Grand Prix, the racing champion said, “It’s time for people to wake up and stop loafing about. It’s lasted long enough. We heard them. We listened. They should stop.” Villeneuve said he thinks protesters grew up without their parents ever telling them no and deemed them “rebels without a cause.” Is it premature to speculate about Villeneuve running to be the next leader of the Quebec Liberal party?
By Leah McLaren - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
With their usual resolve, revelers marked the Queen’s milestone with contagious enthusiasm, even in the rain
It’s fitting, somehow, that in all of the spectacular moments designed to elicit a laugh from the Queen last weekend—a flotilla of boats on the Thames, a giant flaming bonfire and a grand equestrian pageant in her own backyard—it was an offhand joke about—what else?—the weather that caused Her Majesty to finally crack up. During her son Prince Charles’s tribute following the outdoor street concert in front of Buckingham Palace on Monday night, the monarch looked pleased and humbled by the cheering crowd of tens of thousands before her. Standing centre stage surrounded by an eclectic assortment of pop stars, from the great (Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder) to the goofy (Robbie Williams and Cliff Richards), the lady of the hour was visibly relieved the skies had finally cleared in what had otherwise been a weekend of thoroughly English weather.
Not that it put much of a damper on things. On Sunday afternoon, Elizabeth II and her family—the duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, duchess of Cornwall, duke and duchess of Cambridge and, last but not least, Prince Harry—stood stoically for four hours in the frigid rain and whipping wind watching a parade of boats pay tribute on the Thames River. It was a feat of supreme organization, pageantry and—in the royal family’s case—bladder control that the whole thing went off without a hitch (if you don’t count the duke of Edinburgh falling ill with an infection the following day). There were red velvet thrones available on the royal barge, but the Queen, dressed in a ruffled white coat, gloves and a rain-deflecting, inverted-brim hat, stalwartly refused to rest. Whether this was out of excitement or in solidarity with the close to one million people who gathered, in some places 20 or 30 deep, huddling under inside-out umbrellas, to cheer her arrival on the banks of the river, is not clear. All we know for sure is that she appeared to love every minute of it. The royal right hand got a thorough fluttering as she waved the boats along for hours. Unlike the blue-lipped duchess of Cornwall, who remarked to onlookers while disembarking that it was “absolutely freezing!” the Queen stood tall despite her 86 years, and did not complain. In this sense it was a moment that encapsulated everything that Great Britain stands for: monarchy, pageantry, and the ability to enjoy oneself in spite of the crappy weather.
By Anne Kingston - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Queen’s radiant smile flooded her face, even as she stood in the rain for hours
Sixty years into her monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II ﬁnally appears to be having a good time. There she was on her gilded royal barge ﬂoating down the Thames, as always thoughtfully attired for her subjects’ beneﬁt: her Swarovski-encrusted white bouclé coat made her easy to spot amid blue navel mufti and red-jacketed guards. Her jewellery cunningly paid homage to her earlier jubilees, the silver and gold ones. But the Queen’s true stealth accessory was a radiant smile that ﬂooded her face with joy, even as she stood stoically amid blustery chill and drizzle. So it was throughout the giddy four-day Diamond Jubilee blowout that witnessed horses galloping, 1,000-plus ships sailing, celebrity lords singing and a national beacon lighting.
The Queen’s joyful countenance was duly noted by long-time royal watchers who know the monarch as neither a promiscuous nor political smiler. In portraits, her expression recalls the glassy, remote aspect of Madame Tussauds’ best work. Her face in repose tends toward serious, even scowl. When she does smile, it’s unmistakably authentic.
The obvious explanation for Elizabeth II’s happy countenance is that in this her 87th year, her annus mirabilis, she has much to smile about. At her side is Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh, her marital ally of nearly 65 years (though he was admitted to hospital on Monday with an infection). Her decades of leading by example, of toiling like a Clydesdale, have paid off. Few loose ends remain. The uncertainty that once swirled around Prince Charles’s suitability to reign has lifted, as has antipathy toward Camilla, his second wife. And last year’s pitch-perfect royal nuptials of Prince William to Kate Middleton ushered in a new surge of royal mania.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
It may not be the most burning question in the world, but it’s one that just begs for an office pool. This isn’t as daft as it sounds. After all, hundreds of thousands of pounds are bet on the colour of the Queen’s hat at Ascot every year.
Nearly every shade of the colour wheel is on the table—well, except beige, which the Queen never wears, though she will accept ecru or oatmeal. As Anne Kingston’s article states, she picks “Easter-egg pastel and gem-bright outﬁts than can be readily spotted in a crowd.” Just look at the montage of pictures that accompany the piece!
Vogue studied all her outfits for a 12-month period and discovered that she wears shades of blue 29 per cent of the time, followed by floral (13 per cent), green (11 per cent), while pink and purple tied at 10 per cent.
We do know that she’s got to pick something that will stand out, will instantly scream “THE QUEEN” and yet not go a-flutter in the wind. (The same rules apply to her hat: it can’t be too big, will likely have a brim—she’s been wearing a lot of those lately—and will certainly be held firmly in place by the judicious use of hat pins.)
Since she wore pink at her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and blue for her Golden Jubilee in 2002, I’m wagering a small bet on yellow for her Diamond Jubilee service and parade on Tuesday. Why? Partly because it’s a sunny, happy shade and partly because she just loves the colour.
And FYI, here’s the penultimate “Build a Queen” that our office is constructing. It’s a moving tribute, but I’m not sure how the Queen would feel about seeing Herself minus a regal head. (Usually a bad thing for monarchs.)
By Anne Kingston - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
And other regal fashion tricks
“I can never wear beige,” Queen Elizabeth II once lamented, “because no one will know who I am.” The comment, attributed by the biographer Robert Hardman, encapsulates a six-decade stealth fashion strategy that has produced an 86-year-old style icon whose look is unabashedly her own.
Uninterested in fashion per se, the young Queen always was conscious that “clothes are part of her armour,” as a royal couturier once put it. Loyal to the late designers Hardy Amies, for tailored daywear, and Norman Hartnell, for evening clothes that paid subtle homage to her host country, she established her pragmatic approach—and signature style—early on. And from the beginning, the ﬁve-foot-four monarch’s primary duty has been to her subjects, hence the Easter-egg pastel and gem-bright outﬁts than can be readily spotted in a crowd. In later years, the hues have grown even bolder, a result of the inﬂuence of Angela Kelly, the Queen’s former dresser turned personal assistant. Not a detail is left unobserved. Obligatory matching hats never shadow the sovereign’s face or ﬂy off in the wind; clear plastic umbrellas employed in the rain boast coloured borders cleverly co-ordinated to match her outﬁt.
Devoid of frippery or fashion faux pas, the Queen’s clothing has become a soothing constant in Britain’s national life—from the practical low-heeled patent pumps and matching prim purse (whose contents still spark rabid speculation) to her sturdy brogues, tweed skirts and head scarves tailored to tramping across the moors.
Yet ﬂashes of personality emerge—as seen in an enduring fondness for showy shoes like the Roger Vivier-designed ruby-studded kidskin pumps worn at her coronation or the sparkly brooches she rocked decades before Michelle O did. “Fashions fade, style is eternal,” Yves Saint Laurent famously said. He wasn’t talking about the sovereign who wisely avoids beige, but he could have been.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 3:01 PM - 0 Comments
John Williamson was in a quandary in October 1947. Two fabulous diamonds had been found at his east African mine—a rare, virtually flawless 54.5-carat pink diamond and a huge 175-carat blue-white diamond. One was destined to be a wedding gift for Princess Elizabeth. “Which one do you think?” he asked his partner Iqbal Chopra and his wife, according to an account by Iqbal’s grandson Jarat in the journal Old Africa. “We thought he should send the pink one. He said, ‘That is what I thought. Even though it doesn’t look as important as the big blue-white.’ ” He immediately sent it to London.
The raw pink stone was cut down to 23.6 carats and used by Cartier as the centre of a jonquil-shaped flower brooch that also featured 200 small white diamonds. Considered “the finest pink diamond ever discovered,” by the Royal Collection, the Williamson pink is frequently pinned to the Queen’s coat. And this summer it will be a featured attraction at an exhibit of royal diamonds at Buckingham Palace.
Yet despite his extraordinary accomplishments, the Canadian man behind the jewellery is largely forgotten. He only made it into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2011. And few detailed first-hand accounts survive of the independent, sometimes prickly, entrepreneur. Tall and handsome with a Clark Gable look, John Thorburn Williamson was also “taciturn to the point of secretiveness and difficult to get to know,” John Gawaine wrote The Diamond Seeker, a fictionalized account of Williamson’s life that is widely cited by experts on the diamond industry.
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 4:53 PM - 0 Comments
But nation caretaking, travelling and meeting people came at the expense of her kids
When Queen Elizabeth II was just a young princess, her tutor would address her in an unlikely way: “Gentlemen,” the eccentric Henry Marten would say to her while outlining some concept of constitutional law or history. It may have been by force of habit—Marten had for years been teaching boys at the elite Eton College. Or it might have been a hint of what was to come.
The Queen is a woman, but it’s easy to overlook that fact. Easy to forget that, besides being leader of the Commonwealth, head of state of 16 nations, head of the armed forces and head of the Church of England, she has been or continues to be a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. These other roles have always, at least publicly and perhaps rightly so, seemed less important than being the monarch. It’s more natural to think of her meeting with political leaders, taking ofﬁcial tours and sifting daily through government documents than exercising her maternal or feminine instincts.
“If you look at all the actions that the Queen has done, you could easily say she’s been doing a man’s job,” says Robert Finch, dominion chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada. That is no sexist crack: before Elizabeth’s reign, there was a string of four kings—and since the Norman conquest of 1066, only ﬁve other females have held the top spot. “In fact, I consider her to be one of the world’s greatest statesmen,” continues Finch. One who just happens to be a woman.
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
We dug deep into the archives and selected 23 of our favourite Elizabeth stories spanning 68 years
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for 60 years but Maclean’s has been fascinated with her since long before she wore the crown. Our latest e-book, on the occasion of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, compiles the best of our royal coverage over the last seven decades from some of Canada’s most famous writers and photographers. Berton wrote a seven-part series in 1953, the year after George VI died and Elizabeth became Queen. (One of those articles, “How the princess was taught to rule,” is included in this collection; the others will be released in a special ebook, Pierre Berton on the Queen). Photographer Yousuf Karsh gave an account of his 1951 trip to Clarence House to shoot the young family. And more recently, Andrew Coyne explained why Canada needs the monarchy—even if it’s Charles and Camilla.
It was no easy task compiling this collection. Fourteen of the 23 stories only exist in bound copies. And our seemingly endless poring over them, and the resulting wear and tear, sent Maclean’s resident archivist, and author of our Royal Quarters blog, Patricia Treble into a sweat. We sat down with her to find out how she got the originals back in their locked cabinets, what her favourite stories about Elizabeth are and what royal has visited Canada the most (the answer may surprise some).
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
She’s been on the throne for 60 years, yet in Our Queen, royal author Robert Hardman argues that she’s changed the monarchy more than any sovereign in recent times. Although the monarchy may have once been a stuffy, ossified institution inside and out, Hardman explores its unseen young, vibrant side. The author has gone behind the green baize door for an intimate, fascinating exploration of how Queen Elizabeth II remoulded an ancient institution so that it fits into this increasingly hectic modern era. Gone are the gentleman amateurs who ran the royal household and in are professionals.
Q: You’ve been following the royal family for a long time. With so many topics available on the Windsors, why did you want to write this particular book?
A: I’ve been a royal correspondent for 10 years and subsequently I’ve written documentaries and features, so I’ve seen a lot of the monarchy as an institution. Every time I’ve had a look behind the scenes there was a sense that things were changing. Superficially it’s a traditional institution, but behind the scenes it’s not. Does she lead it from the top? Is it a hidebound old court or is it rather a quirky interesting, surprisingly modern organization?
Q: Which one is it?