By Patricia Treble - Friday, May 18, 2012 - 0 Comments
She’s got a national anthem that asks God to save her, lives amid priceless treasures and is so widely known that when people in, say, Mali, talk about the Queen, everyone knows there is only one sovereign: Her Majesty Elizabeth II. She inhabits a rarified world unknown to all but a few, so it was only fitting that just 22–some related to her in ways only genealogists can decipher, and good friends–gathered on Friday at Windsor Castle for a lunch to celebrate her 60 years on the throne. King Harald V kissed her on both cheeks and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands threw out her arms before greeting her fellow sovereign. Some have long been out of power (King Constantine of Greece), while others lead tiny statelets (Prince Albert of Monaco), but they all belong to the most exclusive club in the world. Protocol officials must have gone mad trying to figure out who sat where, but that didn’t seem to matter for the invitees as kings mingled freely with queens, grand dukes, ruling princes and emirs.
By Nicholas Köhler and Chris Sorensen - Friday, May 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM - 0 Comments
Ben Mulroney has a big audition, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s in trouble, again, and Justin Bieber gets in the ring
Still punching above his weight
Somehow, with little consequence except the continued appreciation of British children, the puppet Mr. Punch has managed to commit domestic abuse, infanticide and other slapstick crimes for 350 years now. On May 9, 1662, the diary of Samuel Pepys, notes that he witnessed at London’s Covent Garden piazza what he described as “an Italian puppet play . . . which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw.” With his red nose and squawks, produced by a “swazzle” sound-making device played by a “professor”—the puppeteer inside the booth—the anarchic Punch still enthralls, a disturbing testament to the comic power of senseless violence.
Tragedy of a ruined bruin
Captured mid-fall in a stunning snapshot by student photographer Andy Duann, a 280-lb.black bear tranquilized after stealing into a tree at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder became an instant celebrity last month. Not two weeks later the bear was dead, struck by two cars near the university. Authorities had hauled the slumbering animal to the mountains, but the wilds of Colorado are dry this spring and the bear was on his way back to campus when he was struck.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM - 0 Comments
Leah McLaren just landed on the front page of the Spectator with a tale of how the Queen nearly got an earful from her in response to a regally innocuous and unmistakably British “How do you do?” at a Buckingham Palace reception. The Canadian London correspondent had just found out she was pregnant and had to restrain herself from crossing the “Too Much Information” line with Her Maj.
On the way home she burst into tears.
“I wasn’t crying because of the baby — in fact I was delighted to be pregnant — I was crying because I was having a child with a Englishman who was firmly committed to England. And that meant I could never go home.”
And with this, McLaren has come full circle. For ten years ago, she made waves with another Spectator piece, one tellingly titled: “The tragic ineptitude of the English male.” Back then, she now writes:
“I concluded as a result that most British males were borderline alcoholic, fearful of women, socially and emotionally retarded and, because of the archaic boarding school system (I confined my dating to a small west London sample), probably repressed homosexuals as well.”
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 12:50 PM - 0 Comments
It’s kind of unbelievable to read reports in the British press that Queen Elizabeth II, a woman who fulfills her job and duty with utmost diligence, has agreed to be filmed bestowing a “knighthood” on a fictional character for the world to see. Though let’s be clear–this isn’t just any old personality but James Bond, her most loyal and swashbuckling civil servant—albeit one with a licence to kill—who saves her realm with dizzying regularity and loves being “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
The scene is reportedly part of a spectacular opening ceremony being created for the London Olympics. Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) is the event’s artistic director. And he and Daniel Craig, the latest Bond beefcake, have both been filming at Buckingham Palace recently. The speculation is that the scene will include the Queen giving Bond a mission to open the Games, which he apparently does via a parachute. “Daniel Craig was here in black tie one morning in early April,” says a source to the Evening Standard. “Judi Dench [who plays M, the head of MI-6] was also here, and the talk of the Palace was that Bond was going to be knighted that morning.”
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 1:51 AM - 0 Comments
John Edwards heads to court, St. John’s mayor takes on Harper, and Lindsay Lohan returns to the big screen
After years of tawdry headlines, tarnished Democratic Party golden boy John Edwards is going to court. The former senator and presidential candidate is accused of diverting $900,000 in contributions to his 2008 presidential campaign to cover up an affair with videographer Rielle Hunter, as well as the birth of their child. Edwards, whose wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in 2010, contends that the funds weren’t campaign contributions; rather, the lawyers for the North Carolina politician say, the money was a gift from friends to help him out in his time of need. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
The final frontier
After having a go at astrophysics, academia and the world of high tech, Cheick Modibo Diarra has moved on to something far more complicated: governing an African nation. Between 1989 and 2002, the Mali-born Diarra oversaw unmanned NASA missions to Mars, Venus, Jupiter and the sun. He then became president of one African university and co-founded another, before becoming head of Microsoft Africa in 2006. After launching a political party last year, Diarra was recently appointed interim prime minister of Mali following a coup d’état. His first challenge: quelling rebel uprisings in the country’s north. Getting a spacecraft to Mars may be simpler by comparison.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 1:58 PM - 0 Comments
London is awash with Diamond Jubilee swag of all shapes and sizes—Fortnum & Mason is selling DJ marmalade for $11.25 and a DJ picnic hamper for $190—so it’s not surprising that famous restaurants have realized there is money, and a lot of it, to be made from the event. Rules, the venerable British restaurant that claims to be the oldest in London (it was started in 1798), has created a special cocktail menu with a clever Diamond Jubilee twist. Each of the 16 creations is tailored to one of the 16 nations that still retain the Queen as head of state. Suffice it to say that the drinks are a tad on the exotic side, given most of her remaining realms are located close to the Equator.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 2:01 PM - 0 Comments
Sometimes what isn’t said (or seen) can be more telling than what is. In Soviet days, for example, it was a person’s position at the annual May Day parade and other important events that indicated who was on the way up and who was on the way down–they even retroactively deleted those who’d lost favour.
Similar rules apply to the royal family today. On Tuesday the royal press office released more details for the Diamond Jubilee procession on June 5, which is the culmination of four days of celebrations.
Buckingham Palace today published details of The Queen’s processional route from Westminster Hall, the Palace of Westminster, to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, 5th June.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Henry of Wales will travel by carriages following a Diamond Jubilee lunch at Westminster Hall, to be given for The Queen by the Livery.
The three carriages will leave New Palace Yard and process up Whitehall, to Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and down the Mall, through the Centre Gates at Buckingham Palace.
Notice what isn’t there? It’s any mention of the rest of the royal family. And that means they’ve been officially relegated to a secondary role. If recent events are any indication, they’ll be moved hither and yon in a bus, the most plebian of transportation options. Well, at least it won’t be a fleet of Boris bikes.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 2:06 PM - 0 Comments
It was the shortest of announcements, but for experts in divining shifts and currents in the relationships between royals, it was a huge pronouncement:
The Queen has been pleased to make the following appointment to the Royal Victorian Order:
To be a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
It is an acknowledgement, handed out on the seventh wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Camilla, that the duchess of Cornwall is no longer seen as “that woman” who broke up Charles and Diana. There was no doubt the Queen had been cool towards Camilla, given the harm her adulterous relationship with Charles had on the monarchy. Elizabeth II, because she’s head of the Church of England, didn’t even attend their 2005 civil wedding. Yet the Queen realized that, for her son, Camilla was a non-negotiable part of his life. So she hosted the wedding reception at Windsor Castle and Camilla got a fittingly prominent role at state visits and other high profile events. And just in February, Camilla and her own daughter-in-law, Kate, joined the Queen on a rare—and colour-coordinated—visit to Fortnum & Mason.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 5:51 PM - 0 Comments
Okay, we’re less than two months into the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, which celebrates her 60 years on the throne, but already I’m thinking ahead. Not to the first weekend in June, when all eyes turn to London, which will host a huge concert outside Buckingham Palace, a 1,000-vessel flotilla on the Thames and, finally, the parade to St. Paul’s for the service of Thanksgiving—with the Queen and Prince Philip
likely in the Gold State Coach that is so old and jerky that occupants are reportedly advised to take Gravol to avoid sea sicknessUPDATED: travelling in the 1902 state landau. I’m not even thinking of September 2015, when Elizabeth Alexandra Mary will surpass Queen Victoria to become the longest ever reigning monarch.
No, I’m thinking of what comes after all that. There has been a natural progression in jubilees. The silver one was in 1977, to mark her first 25 years as Queen, the golden anniversary in 2002 for 50 years and now, 10 years later (let’s face it, by the time you get beyond the 50th anniversary, you’ve earned the right to speed up the rate of celebrations) we’ve arrived at the Diamond Jubilee. The Queen has obviously inherited her mother’s longevity genes. And given that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother lived to 101, there’s every chance we’ll be celebrating another jubilee. As Martin Charteris, a former private secretary to Elizabeth II, once commented, she is “as tough as a yak.”
By John Fraser - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
He’s been in line for the throne longer than any heir in history—and he’s worked it to his advantage
Throughout most of his adult life, Prince Charles, heir to the throne and king the moment his mother, the Queen, dies and hands on the hereditary torch, has been the principal victim of the media royalty mania. He has been subjected to more ridicule, innuendo, outright fabrication and grotesque invasion of privacy than almost any other individual alive today. Part of the problem, of course, is that he has opinions that some people disagree with. An equal part of the problem is that the women in the house of Windsor live a long time, and he has been in the waiting line longer than any heir to the throne in history.
The longevity of the Windsor women is not a joke, at least not to him. His beloved Scottish grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI, ruled our hearts much longer as the Queen Mother than she ever did as queen consort, and lived on till she was past her century. Charles’s own mother, our Queen, looks set to break even that record. Since he was born in 1948 and the Queen won’t reach her centenary until 2026 and, say, we give her two years of grace following that epochal moment, Charles can look forward to wearing the imperial state crown round about 2028 or 2029, at the ample age of 80 or 81. His enemies wonder if he winces when loyalists say, “Long live the Queen,” which shows how little they understand Prince Charles. His ﬂaws, both those that are real and those that are imagined but nevertheless widely ascribed to him, have been trotted out so often and for so long that most people haven’t any real and tangible idea who he really is.
Everything that is decent and good about Prince Charles comes as a shock to those who insist he is a crank or a wonk or a wuss or a doofus or a whatever. His skill at athletics, his bravery during assassination attempts (check out Google for the one in Australia in 1994 if you want a deﬁnition of sang-froid), his prophetic wisdom about ecology, his genius as a loving and wise father, his careful aim at arrogant professionals (like architects who enjoy obliterating or desecrating monuments of the past such as the National Gallery in London or the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto), his astuteness as a businessman, his support of corporate responsibility, his effectiveness in ﬁghting social inertia amongst the young and unemployed, his inspired ability to transcend religious differences and animosity, his dutifulness to his mother and sovereign: whenever you hear about these qualities Charles possesses, they always seem to be presented as a footnote to a portrait of either an idiot savant (at best) or—more typically—a meddling, dangerous fool. And still he waits and waits.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM - 0 Comments
The Queen is a pro when it comes to public speaking. After all, she’s given umpteen speeches since she was a child during the Second World War. And every year she utters a bland government-prepared speech from the throne. Yet there is something especially moving about talking in her own words before members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, especially in historic Westminster Hall—the oldest parliamentary building, and the site of the official lying in state for both her parents. She was there on Tuesday to look at their Diamond Jubilee tribute to her—a stained glass window. Here is her speech:
By Patricia Treble - Friday, March 9, 2012 at 10:52 AM - 0 Comments
It was clear Kate was determined not to be the centre of attention from the moment the royal party arrived at St. Pancras station in London on Thursday. Her clothes were dark and unobtrusive, leaving the focus solely on Kate’s travelling companion—the Queen, who was officially starting her Diamond Jubilee tour of Britain. Kate even wore her hair pulled back under a hat, avoiding the inevitable photo op when she battles for control of her tresses as they get whipped by the wind. That meant all attention was on the Queen, aided by her bright pink outfit, in Leicester, leaving Prince Philip in his customary back-up role and Kate chatting with local officials.
By Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
This ‘old lady’ apertif packs a punch and is perfect for toasting the Diamond Jubilee
As events ramp up for the Diamond Jubilee, you might want to raise a glass to Elizabeth Alexandra Mary’s 60 years as Queen. But should you choose a British ale? What about a scotch, given that one of her residences, Balmoral Castle, is in Aberdeenshire? Or perhaps a drink mixed with the very British Pimm’s No. 1 Cup?
How about toasting the Queen with her favourite drink: a very French aperitif by the name of Dubonnet, which she enjoys with a shot of gin. It’s a habit passed down by the Queen Mother, who once sent a note to her favourite page, William Tallon, asking him to be sure to include “two bottles of Dubonnet and gin” for a picnic “in case it [was] needed.” We know this because the note was sold to an anonymous bidder for $25,000 at an auction of Tallon’s royal mementoes in 2008.
The Queen’s tipple packs a powerful punch, since Dubonnet contains 19 per cent alcohol by volume, and gin has 40 per cent. But don’t think the Queen is a boozer. “I’ve seen the Queen with this red drink on many occasions and she makes it last a whole reception,” says Arthur Edwards, a 35-year veteran photographer of the British royalty with the Sun newspaper in London. The Queen’s cocktail has been the brunt of many a joke from an anonymous tweeter who goes by the handle Elizabeth Windsor and assumes the persona of a boozy queen. @Queen_UK has amassed 600,000 followers, and even published a book called Gin O’Clock last year, doling out tweets such as “Giving up gin for lent. #kidding,” and, “Someone get one a gin and tonic. No tonic.”
By Patricia Treble - Friday, February 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
Being starstruck by Queen Elizabeth II is a noble tradition. It has afflicted everyone from children to battle-hardened politicians. On the last day of the Queen’s tour of Canada in 2010, for example, she visited Queen’s Park, whose lawns around the legislature were packed with officials, media and citizens. And in the midst of the engagement, Premier Dalton McGuinty walked by the media, turned and with a broad grin plastered to his face, exclaimed, “I love her!” Continue…
By Erica Alini - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 6:35 PM - 0 Comments
Economists have long warned that current spending patterns have put Ontario on track for a fiscal doomsday. In an attempt to show Ontarians the way to economic salvation, Premier Dalton McGuinty appointed a commission on public-service reform last year, headed by former TD economist Don Drummond. His report, unveiled on Wednesday, is a 362-item long laundry list of cost-cutting (and a few revenue-boosting) measures the provincial government should consider to keep the public deficit from ballooning to $30.2 billion by 2017-18. The prescriptions go far beyond the usual calls for budget freezes and capping wage increases in the public sector; Drummond recommends scrapping all-day kindergarten, increasing class sizes, and shutting down casinos. To make Ontarians feel better about the coming age of austerity, we’ve put together a list of the five most unusual ideas other governments have considered or implemented to fix their own beleaguered finances.
By the editors - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Long may she reign
Queen Elizabeth II is the only head of state the vast majority of Canadians have ever known. Through all the political, social and technological upheavals of the past 60 years, she has been the one constant in our lives. Her image graces our stamps, coins and bills; she has been to visit us 23 times. And her impact has been felt in the very nature of our political system.
The Queen has performed her role as monarch of Great Britain, Canada and 14 other realms, as well as head of the Commonwealth, for so long that it is difficult to imagine anyone else ever sitting on her throne. And yet there is more to her remarkable success than mere longevity. She has reigned long, but she has also reigned very well.
As she begins her Diamond Jubilee celebrations with the anniversary of her accession to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, it is worth reflecting on how and why the Queen has been so successful. Today, even avowed anti-monarchists in Canada and elsewhere grudgingly admit her years of service represent the pinnacle of achievement for any head of state—elected or hereditary—in any realm.
By Patricia Treble - Monday, February 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM - 0 Comments
I’ve got bad news for you, Prime Minister. The King is dead.—Edward Ford, private secretary to King George VI
Bad news? The worst!—British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Monday, Feb. 6, 2012 not only marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne; it’s also the anniversary of her beloved father’s sudden death; a tragic event that shocked both Britain and the Empire.
“His Majesty had ruled for 16 years and he was the figurehead for his subjects during one of their homeland’s darkest periods,” the BBC said. “As the news of the King’s death spread, shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres closed, and some employers sent their upset workers home.” Nurses at St. Catharines General Hospital in Ontario discovered what happened when they exited the wards to investigate why the hospital was so suddenly quiet—the staff was crying in the corridors. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Monday, January 9, 2012 at 5:54 PM - 0 Comments
Get ready for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but don’t expect a baby for Kate (yet)
If 2011 sent royal watchers into a frenzy with six glittering weddings, Prince William and Kate’s smash tour of Canada plus a titillating scandal involving a sex club and, allegedly, Sweden’s king, then the events already crowding the 2012 calendar will send monarchists into orbit. Here are the top five happenings of the year:
1. Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee
The year-long celebrations to honour the sovereign’s 60 years on the throne promise to include some must-see events, including a 1,000-boat flotilla on the Thames and the lighting of 2012 beacons from one tip of Britain to the other. The country gets a four-day holiday in June for all the events, which will see millions lining the route to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a service of Thanksgiving. The last time a sovereign hit the big 60 was in 1897. Then Queen Victoria was so fat and unwell she remained seated in her carriage for a blessing at the cathedral. That’s not likely to happen with her über-healthy great-great-granddaughter. However, in a concession to her age—she’ll be 86 this year while Prince Philip will be 91—the regal couple is staying in Britain while the rest of the family will visit every realm country in the world, as well as some big Commonwealth republics.
2. Kate, year two
The duchess of Cambridge turns 30 today, a milestone she celebrated in advance on Sunday by attending the London premiere of Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”–wrapped in a fabulous, floor-length lace gown by Alice Temperley–followed by “low-key and private” celebrations. London’s tabloids were taking turns guessing what William got for his wife. The latest had it being a watch–a very, very nice watch. There were also reports the Queen would give her a family tiara, though that will only be confirmed when she wears it in public. But so far, the royal family has kept everyone guessing.
After a massive debut in 2011—wedding, royal tour etc.—Kate’s expected to keep a much lower profile this year, so as to not overshadow the Queen. Expect a continuation of her ultra-neutral, ultra-simple fashion. As for a baby, the stork isn’t likely to come until after the summer’s Jubilee festivities and the London Olympics.
3. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark’s Ruby Jubilee
A cousin to most of Europe’s royal families, “Daisy,” as she’s been known since birth, celebrates 40 years on the throne this year. Not only is she beloved—her popularity stands at more than 80 per cent—but so is the monarchy itself, which Margrethe, who turns 72 in April, has done an enviably good job of modernizing. People like royals to act royal, but not too royal, and Denmark’s queen has figured out how to successfully walk that tightrope. Her dynasty is ancient—traced back to Gorm the ?—and the sovereign at times wears a crushing amount of historic jewelry. But she also has an artistic streak–she illustrated a Lord of the Rings edition; sketched sets and costumes for the 2009 film The Wild Swans, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale; and even designs some of her own clothes. And she is often seen doing her own shopping in Copenhagen.
And don’t expect her to abdicate any time soon to plunk her photogenic progeny, Crown Prince Frederik, and his equally glam wife, Mary, on the throne. Margrethe recently told the Danish daily Politiken, “My view has always been that it is an assignment that you have for life.”
4. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s upcoming bundle of joy
After a year marked by scandal gossip about her regal father’s alleged frequenting of sex clubs, along with revelations about her mother’s Nazi family secrets, the future queen will likely enjoy this year a lot better. In March she’s due to give birth to her first child, who, under Swedish law, will succeed Victoria on the throne.
5. Spain’s unsexy scandal
If there is a royal family guaranteed to have it rough in 2012, on the other hand, it is Spain’s. On Feb. 25 the king’s son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, the duke of Palma de Mallorca, is slated to appear before a judge over allegations of corruption. The husband of Infanta Cristina is under investigation for misusing fund given to his foundation to organize sporting events. Spanish papers allege he siphoned the money into his private businesses and it’s widely believed he’ll be criminally charged in the affair within months.
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 John Fraser - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 0 Comments
William and Kate’s first great adventure as a married couple breathed new life into an old relationship
Amongst the unbelievers of the Crown in Canada, you could almost touch the chagrin, from sea to sea, as the extraordinarily successful 2011 royal tour unfolded last week. William and Kate, the newly minted duke and duchess of Cambridge, the future king and queen of Canada, didn’t just come and see and conquer: they vamped us. They did it with warmth and charm and youthful sexiness, then topped it all with a reminder, unambiguous and impossible to ignore, that the ties that bound us “from days of yore” still have the power to renew something very important in our history.
“Will and Kate” are now part of the Canadian story. A big part. Those monarchists who have tried over the years, like Queen Elizabeth II herself, not to be “fair-weather friends” were almost as stunned as the unbelievers as they watched this beautiful and caring young couple walk into our tale and hearts with such aplomb and grace that they seem to have started a whole new chapter.
It was more than just a gesture that, on Canada Day, Catherine wore the maple-leaf-shaped diamond pin the Queen wears so often when she comes to Canada and that had been loaned to the future queen for this trip, the first great adventure in the couple’s married lives after their storybook wedding. The brooch was also a kind of talisman of the past joining them to the future.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:08 PM - 8 Comments
JJ McCullough questions some of the gushing over our apparently monarchist Prime Minister.
Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 1999, Opposition Leader Harper said he enjoyed the experience, but nevertheless felt the need to preface his comments by warning that “I’m not a strong monarchist, I’m really not.” In his wonderfully cynical 1997 US speech on the Canadian system of government, all he could likewise muster about the role of the Crown was a dryly comic observation that “our executive is the Queen, who doesn’t live here.” At his first throne speech, Harper similarly ditched the longstanding practice of wearing a full Victorian “morning suit” with striped pants and vest, outraging some monarchists at the time for his sartorial casualness on a royal occasion.
As far as I can tell, dismissive gestures like these are every bit as relevant to Harper’s understanding of the monarchy as his other, more cloying noises of support. Like most members of the Canadian political class, Harper politely respects the monarchy to the extent he is supposed to. He has no desire to change the status quo, but is not unaware of its absurdities and ironies, either. This is a position of pragmatism and institutional conservatism, and the republican in me doesn’t care much for it. But robust monarchism it is certainly not.
That first quote from Mr. Harper is actually from a 2002 interview, in which the leader of the opposition pronounced his meeting with the Queen to be the highlight of his year. Continue…
By Nicholas Köhler and Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Her duty was to be the Queen, his is to become king. In this they are perfectly united, in love and honour bound.
Few remember it, but it was an instant that captured the whole story. It happened at Buckingham Palace after the 1986 wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson—a great beginning to a sad union. William, four years old and dressed as a 19th-century sailor for the occasion, had run after the newlyweds, tottering dangerously close to their carriage’s big rear wheels. Then the Queen spotted him and scrambled after her grandson, running for several metres before pulling him back. “It was an incredible sight,” one palace employee later said. “Many of us have worked here for years and we have never seen the Queen run before.”
In the tightly scripted world of the British royals, such rare unstudied moments—a brief sprint to collect a beloved boy in danger—are all we have to go on. Everything else lies rich and hidden. And so it is with that most private of relationships, the one between William and Elizabeth II—the second in line to the throne and the Queen herself. The pair are said to be close, yet we have just the slightest of hints to suggest that that’s the case: unlike the pyrotechnics of his mother Diana, princess of Wales, William has somehow managed to lead a life largely sheltered from the prying eyes of the press, and the Queen is a study in circumspection.
Although it’s often Diana who’s cited as the main proponent behind giving William and his younger brother Harry as normal a childhood as possible—lunches at McDonald’s, visits to Disney World—the Queen also encouraged the boys to behave as normal boys do, but in her own way: against the rustic backdrop of her beloved Balmoral Castle, in rugged northeastern Scotland. There, William was free to explore the private 20,000-hectare estate and, under his gruff grandfather’s tutorship, learn to fish for salmon.
By Leah McLaren - Monday, April 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 1 Comment
Why Kate’s middle-class roots matter, how she’s like the Queen Mum, and ranking William
Andrew Roberts is a British historian who has written a dozen books, the most recent of which is The Royal House of Windsor (available exclusively on Amazon Kindle). He is a staunch monarchist and expert in British military history.
Q: In your new book you make an impassioned argument for why royal wedding fever is both culturally important and historically warranted—how so?
A: This wedding isn’t just about a pretty dress. It’s important to keep in mind that Kate Middleton is going to be in her new job for far longer than any democratic leader is going to be in power. The monarchy isn’t just there to attract tourists. It’s also a profoundly important constitutional factor in the way Britain is run. Of course they haven’t brought an act of Parliament since the 18th century, but nonetheless, the monarchy gets to the heart of what the country is all about.
By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
For four years the people of Wootton Bassett, a town deep in the English…
For four years the people of Wootton Bassett, a town deep in the English countryside, have played a solemn role in Britain’s war life. Every time a serviceman is killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, his or her body is returned to the nearby base of RAF Lyneham and then driven slowly through the heart of the Wiltshire town. There, hundreds and often thousands of residents have stood silently as the cortège passes by on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. (Before 2007, the repatriations occurred at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, and the route to the hospital skipped all the local towns.)
The tradition so touched Britain that last week Queen Elizabeth II did something no monarch had done in more than a century: she gave permission for the ancient town to add “Royal” to its name. It is a bittersweet recognition. In September, RAF Lyneham will shut down, and the repatriations will return to Brize Norton. It is now up to Oxfordshire to plan a route that continues the tradition that Royal Wootton Bassett started.