I discussed the reputation of Prince Andrew, Duke of York and his decision to step away from royal duties for the foreseeable future with Gillian Deacon at CBC Here and Now (CBC Radio 1). Prince Andrew’s withdrawal from royal duties accelerates the process of streamlining the royal family to have a core group of senior figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex undertaking public engagements rather than a larger extended family.
Season 3 of The Crown series premieres on Netflix today and there is already interest in how much dramatic license has been taken by the writers of the series. I discussed the portrayal of Princess Margaret’s 1965 official visit to the United States with Daniel Arkin at NBC News. President Lyndon Baines Johnson was the only American president elected during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign who did not meet the Queen but he hosted an official dinner at the White House for Princess Margaret.
For more about President Lyndon Johnson, I recommend reading Robert Caro’s ongoing series “The Years of Lyndon Johnson” – The Path to Power, The Means of Ascent, Master of the Senate and The Passage of Power have been published so far.
In January-February, 2020, I will be teaching a course on Magna Carta and the Making of the Modern World at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, just in time for the 805th anniversary of Magna Carta in June 2020. The course will take place on Wednesday afternoons from 2-4pm Click here for more information and to register:
ABOUT THIS COURSE
Magna Carta is the landmark charter that placed limits on the power of the English king. Neither the king nor his rebel baron opponents necessarily expected its terms to be respected for long. But some of Magna Carta’s principles – like the right to trial by peers and due process – have become basic to common law. The charter influenced the creation of Parliament and the concept of equality before the law. Later interpretations informed the American and French Revolutions, Canada’s Confederation and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 800th anniversary in 2015 was celebrated around the world, and a surviving copy of the Magna Carta was exhibited across Canada. Join Carolyn Harris, author of Magna Carta and its Gifts to Canada, and discover the enduring impact of this document on the modern world.
I discussed the recent changes to the Royal House of Sweden with Janet Davison at CBC News. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden’s decision to remove the titles of His or Her Royal Highness from five of his grandchildren are part of a wider trend of streamlining royal houses to include fewer people who receive public funds and perform official duties.
This trend is evident in the British and Commonwealth royal family as well. Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, son of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, did not receive a title at the time of his birth, suggesting that he will eventually pursue his own career rather than undertake full time royal duties.
My latest article in the BBC History Magazine examines the reputation of Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. In the new Downton Abbey film, one storyline references a long-standing question: was Mary partial to stealing from the grand houses that she visited? Writing for History Extra, I explore the life of George V’s queen, and her habits as a collector of precious objects.
Click here to read “Was Queen Mary, wife of George V, a kleptomaniac?” in the BBC History Magazine.
I discussed the role of the Duchess of Cambridge with Janet Davison at CBC News. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“For Kate, it’s been a “complicated transition,” said Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal author and historian.
Kate came to public prominence once it was known she was dating William. She took part in a television interview at the time of their engagement, but didn’t make a public speech until 2012. In many ways, it seemed she was being eased into royal duties more slowly than previous generations.
For William’s mother, Diana, three decades earlier, “it was a very fast transition into royal life,” said Harris.”
The panel of historians and biographers on the program include A.N. Wilson, author of Victoria: A Life, Jane Ridley, author of Bertie: A Life of Edward VII and Queen Victoria: Queen, Matriarch, Empress, Jules Stewart, author of Albert: A Life and Christine Kinealy, author of A New History of Ireland.
I discussed Queen Victoria’s legacy in Canada with Janet Davison at CBC News. While Queen Victoria never visited Canada in person, all four of her sons and her daughter Princess Louise spent time in Canada and set precedents for future royal tours. Queen Victoria also exerted political and cultural influence over the development of 19th century Canada and her birthday remains a Canadian holiday to the present day.
In October-November, 2019, I will be teaching a new course at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies – The Nordic Nations: From Vikings to Modernity. The course will take place on Wednesday afternoons from 2-4pm. Click here for more information and to register!
ABOUT THIS COURSE
The Nordic nations – Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway – are consistently among the top 15 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. Their societies and culture are admired around the world. But prior to this success is a long, turbulent history. Learn about the history of the Nordic nations, including Vikings, warrior monarchs, the Second World War and immigration to North America. We’ll explore how the countries of northern Europe emerged from poverty and political upheaval to become some of the most successful countries of the 21st century.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- Explore the cultural influence of the Nordic countries around the world.
- Learn about the unique histories of the Nordic nations.
- Discuss how successful societies can emerge from a difficult past.
My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Lady Grey, viceregal consort of Canada from 1904 to 1911. The article also discusses Rudyard Kipling’s poem Our Lady of the Snows. Born Alice Holford, Lady Grey shared her family’s interest in landscape gardening and was the patron of a wide variety philanthropic organizations in Canada.