Interview on CBC Radio Here and Now Toronto at 3:10pm, April 30 about the visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to Toronto

I will be interviewed on CBC radio in Toronto this afternoon at 3:10pm EST to discuss the upcoming Canadian tour of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. They will be in Toronto on May 22.

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Itinerary for the Royal Tour of Canada by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Announced

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on the balcony of Dundurn Castle, Hamilton during their 2009 tour of Canada.

The itinerary for Diamond Jubilee tour of Canada by Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was released this morning by the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The royal couple will visit the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan during their time in Canada, from May 20 to May 23.

Moore stated in the official press release, “We are delighted that their Royal Highnesses will join Canadians in celebrating the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s reign as Queen of Canada . . .We welcome the Royal Couple and look forward to showing them some of the best of what Canada has to offer.” The theme of the 2012 royal tour is  “For Queen and Country: Service to Canada – A Royal and National Value.”

Like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit in July, 2011, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are touring Canada around a holiday weekend, which should increase the number of Canadians able to see them during their tour.The decision to host the royal visit over the Victoria Day weekend is particularly appropriate in 2012 since Queen Victoria is the only previous British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911.

During the celebrations in honour of Queen Victoria’s sixty years on June 22, 1897, a large Canadian delegation traveled to London to participate in the parade. The Canadian Cavalry led “the Colonial Procession” followed by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who had received a knighthood that morning at Buckingham Palace. The Canadian contribution to the parade also included a detachment of the Toronto Grenadiers and Royal Canadian Highlanders. In contrast, Queen Elizabeth II’s 2012 Jubilee is being celebrated by royal visits to all the commonwealth realms by senior members of the royal family, reflecting the comparative ease of travel in the twenty-first century and the transformation of the British Empire into a Commonwealth of equal nations.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) in Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick and Saint John, New Brunswick on May 21, attending a meeting with young veterans and their mentors involved in the Military Entrepreneurship summer school at CFB Gagetown, and Victoria Day celebrations in Saint John. The royal couple will then travel to Toronto for Victoria Day fireworks, a meeting with the National Leadership of Assembly of First Nations, and a special military event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 on May 22.

While in Toronto, the Duchess of Cornwall will pay her first visit the Queen’s Own Rifles as their new Colonel-in-Chief. The tour will conclude in Regina, Saskatchewan, where the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will celebrate the centennial of the legislative building. Prince Charles is a patron of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and the couple will attend a performance before they return to the United Kingdom.

The Gagetown CFB, Saint John, Toronto and Regina were not included in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 2011 tour of Canada so the Jubilee Tour will bring the royal couple to an audience that has not recently experienced a royal tour. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are visiting with groups that traditionally enjoy a close relationship with the Crown, such as the Canadian Forces and the First Nations of Canada, and taking the opportunity to renew their personal relationships with Canadian organizations such as the Queen’s Own Rifles and the Regina Symphony Orchestra.



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Happy 1st Anniversary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding on April 29, 2011.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are celebrating their first anniversary privately today. Buckingham Palace has not revealed where their celebrations will take place but they are expected to spend part of the day with friends then return to Anglesey, Wales, where they live while Prince William works as a Search and Rescue pilot. The understated anniversary festivities reflect the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s approach to their marriage, balancing their joint royal duties with plenty of private retreats as a couple.

I have discussed the royal anniversary extensively in the past week on the Sun News Network and CBC Newsworld and in interviews for,,, the Canadian Press and the Kingston Whig Standard. Common themes in these interviews include the differences between the Duchess of Cambridge’s first year as a member of the royal family and the experiences of her late mother-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales. The Prince and Princess of Wales did not know each other well before their wedding and therefore had to build their personal relationship and public profile at the same time. Prince William was born within a year of their wedding, adding the additional responsibility of parenthood to the early years of their marriage.

In contrast, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge dated for years before they became engaged, building their personal relationship before they began joint royal duties. Despite the intense popular interest in their potential to start a family, the Duke and Duchess have clearly decided to enjoy some time together as a couple before having children. Their decisions mirror the experiences of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who were married in 1923 but did not have their first child, the future Queen Elizabeth II until 1926, allowing them a few years to adjust to their joint responsibilities as Duke and Duchess of York.

The Duke and Duchess’s balanced approach to their personal and public lives bodes well for a long and happy marriage.

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Historical Fiction Roundup 4: The Monarchy in Canadian Literature

The monarchy is a recurring theme in Canadian literature, encompassing both popular perceptions of individual members of the royal family and policies enacted in the name of the crown. Here are a few examples that capture the diversity of monarchy as a literary theme in novels by Canadian authors.

In Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers, the fictional heroine, Laure, becomes one of the approximately eight hundred marriageable young women who emigrated to New France (modern day Quebec) between 1663 to 1673 with dowries provided by King Louis XIV. While previous novels inspired by the experiences of “The King’s Daughters,” such as The King’s Daughter by Suzanne Martel, romanticized these journeys as opportunities for poor young women to seek independence and adventure, Desrochers emphasizes the heavy hand of royal policy in the emigration of brides for the colony’s overwhelmingly male population.

Louis XIV and his Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste-Colbert wished for New France’s population to expand, and Paris’s orphanages and homes for poor women were expected to supply wives for the colonists. In Bride of New France, Emigration to New France is not portrayed as an enticing future for even the most adventurous young woman. When one potential “King’s Daughter” dies before embarking on the voyage, the nurse remarks, “Canada? Well, it’s just as well she died, then . . .Terrible. Just because we don’t know what do with them here doesn’t mean they deserve to be sent over there to freeze in the forest.” Desrochers illuminates the full extent of Louis XIV’s influence over his North American empire through the experiences of her characters.

In  Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, the rumoured African heritage of Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III reinforces the affinity of the Black Loyalist community of British North America with the crown.

Portrait of Queen Charlotte with her two eldest children by Allan Ramsay, 1765.

When Hill’s fictional heroine, Aminata, is received by King and Queen as part of William Wilberforce’s campaign to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire, she is curious to know if the rumours about Charlotte’s background are accurate. Aminata states in the novel, “We moved first to Queen Charlotte Sophia. . . She was the one I most wished to meet, for I wanted to see for myself if she appeared to be a daughter of Africa. The portraits I had seen had drawn her delicately, giving her face a porcelain composure. But seated before me was a woman with a broad nose and full lips, and skin much richer than any painter`s rendition.”  Charlotte’s ancestry continues to be debated by historians to the present day but Aminata’s impressions give a sense of how she might have been perceived in the Black Loyalist community of late eighteenth century Nova Scotia.

In the nineteenth century, Susanna Moodie sought to raise the profile of her memoir of life as a Canadian pioneer, Roughing It in the Bush, by dedicating it to her sister, Agnes Strickland, who was the more famous author at the time of the book’s publication. Strickland was the celebrated writer of Lives of the Queens of England from the Norman Conquest, a series of short biographies of England’s Queens that combined apocryphal romantic anecdotes with archival research and cultural history. While Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush, and The Backwoods of Canada, which was written by another Strickland sister, the regally named Catherine Parr Traill, are now classics of Canadian literature, Agnes Strickland’s biographies are now read primarily by royal historians.

No account of the influence of the monarchy on Canadian literature would be complete without a discussion of the novels of Robertson Davies. The author was a lifelong monarchist who encompassed elements of popular perceptions of 19th and 20th century Canadian monarchs into his works. Fifth Business, the first novel in the Deptford Trilogy contains a vivid example of a character’s personal identification with a well known member of the royal family. The narrator, Dunstan Ramsay, describes his “lifelong friend and enemy” Percy Boyd Staunton as initially in search of an ideal person to emulate.

Ramsay observes, “This ideal, this mould for his outward man, was no one less than Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, the Prince of Wales. The papers were full of the Prince at that time. He was the great ambassador of the Commonwealth but he also had the common touch. . .” The future Edward VIII was extremely popular amongst Canadians. during the 1920s and 1930s, and Staunton’s all consuming obsession is an exaggerated depiction of the genuine admiration that the Prince received during his royal tours of Canada. Ramsay and Staunton ultimately debate the Abdication Crisis of 1936 during the novel, representing the two different sides of Canadian popular opinion on this historic event.

For more information about the crown in Canadian literature, I recommend the essays by Mary Condé and L.C. Knowles in Majesty in Canada: Essays on the Role of Royalty.

Next weekend: The Royal Frame of Reference in Downton Abbey

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The Queen Tours Wales, The Setting of Significant 20th Century Royal Visits

Llandaff Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Llandaff, Head of the Church of Wales. The Queen attended a Thanksgiving service for her Diamond Jubilee there yesterday.

Continuing their busy schedule of Diamond Jubilee visits in the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh toured South Wales on April 26 and 27, visiting Cardiff, Llandaff and Margam yesterday, and Eberfan, Ebbw Vale and Glanusk Park today. In a speech delivered at Ebbe Vale, the Queen expressed her admiration for the inhabitants who have faced economic hardships in recent decades as manufacturing jobs moved away from the area.

Her Majesty stated, “You have been witnesses to many of the greatest changes in Wales of recent years. My family has been coming here since the height of the Valleys’ industrial might. After the closure of the steelworks a decade ago, we have admired the fortitude and resilience of Ebbw Vale as you have tackled the social and economic struggle that followed.” The reference to the royal family’s history of visits to Ebbw Vale alludes to the significance of previous royal tours of Wales, which often highlighted the unique social and economic conditions of the region.

King Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty.

The relationship between the English royal family and Wales dates from the reign of Llywelyn the Great in the fourteenth century, who married King John’s illegitimate daughter Joan, and consolidated his power base in the region, claiming the title of Prince of Wales. (The marriage of Llywelyn and Joan has inspired numerous works of historical fiction, most notably Sharon Kay Penman’s novel, Here Be Dragons.) The ascendancy of the House of Gwynedd did not last and Llywelyn the Great’s grandson, Llywelyn the Last was defeated by Edward I “Longshanks” in 1282, incorporating his territory into the English kingdom.

King Edward’s son, the future Edward II was born on the Welsh campaign and was given the title Prince of Wales, which has been conferred on royal heirs to the present day. Wales was literally the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty. Henry VII was born in Pembroke Castle in 1457 to the thirteen-year-old Lancastrian heiress Margaret Beaufort, the widow of a Welsh nobleman, Owen Tudor.  Queen Elizabeth II visited Pembroke Castle during a 1955 tour of North Wales that included visits to the National Library of Wales and the University in Aberystwyth.

King Edward VIII's only State Opening of Parliament in November, 1936. His subsequent visit to Wales created political tensions that fuelled popular perceptions of the Abdication Crisis.

One of the most significant royal visits to Wales in the 20th century was Edward VIII’s November, 1936 visit to the Bessemer Steel Works at Dowlais, which had reduced its workforce during the Great Depression. The King gave a moving speech expressing his sympathy for the plight of the Welsh steelworkers, stating, “These works brought all these people here. Something must be done to find them work.” Edward VIII’s call for something to be done increased his popularity with his subjects but alarmed members of his government who feared that he was disregarding the impartiality expected of a constitutional monarch.The tour of Wales shaped popular opinion of the Abdication Crisis, fuelling speculation that Edward VIII’s government was eager to replace him with a more tractable successor.

Another famous royal visit to Wales occurred in October, 1981, when Prince Charles and his new wife, Princess Diana undertook their first official tour as a married couple. Although Diana was suffering from morning sickness throughout the trip, she charmed the enormous crowds who gathered on the route to Caernarvon Castle to greet the royal couple. The Princess’s approach to royal walkabouts was widely admired as she thanked flower presenters in Welsh and embraced a child with spina bifida.

The investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle in 1969.

Although the castle was the place where Charles had been invested by the Queen as Prince of Wales, he was overshadowed by his wife, commenting during the 1981 tour, “At least I know my place know. I’m nothing more than a carrier of flowers for my wife.” Diana’s ability to upstage Charles on royal visits would create lasting tensions within their marriage.

The Jubilee visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to Wales is the latest significant royal milestone to be celebrated in this historic region. The royal family has longstanding ties to Wales and visits there have had a lasting influence on the history of the monarchy.

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Interview with CBC Newsworld this Sunday April 29 at 9:45am about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st anniversary

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st Anniversary is attracting widespread interest in Canada as their wedding and summer tour captured the popular imagination last year. I will be giving an interview on CBC newsworld this Sunday, April 29 about the anniversary and the royal couple’s possible plans for the future.

Here’s the roundup of my upcoming interviews about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

Friday April 27 – Sun News Network – 1:40pm EST

Sunday April 29 – CBC NewsWorld – 9:45am EST

Sunday April 29 – CTV News Channel – 9pm EST

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CTV News Channel Interview this Sunday April 29 at 9pm EST about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st Anniversary

Another announcement for Canadian readers with cable. I am going to be interviewed this Sunday April 29 on the CTV news channel, at 9pm Eastern Standard Time about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st Anniversary. Be sure to tune in!

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Sun News Network Interview this Friday April 27 at 1:40pm EST about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st Anniversary

For all my Canadian readers with cable, I will be giving an interview on the Sun News Network this Friday April 27, at 1:40pm Eastern Standard Time to discuss the 1st anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Be sure to tune in!

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The Queen Reopens the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

The Cutty Sark in February, 2012 as the repairs and restoration neared completion.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Greenwich today to reopen the famous clipper ship, Cutty Sark, to the public after years of repairs and restoration. The ship, a popular tourist attraction in Greenwich, has undergone extensive repairs since it was damaged in a fire while undergoing conservation in 2007.

The royal couple have a longstanding interest in the ship. Prince Philip founded the Cutty Sark society in 1951 to manage the restoration of the nineteenth century vessel, and the Queen originally opened the ship as a museum in 1957. Although Prince Philip passed on a number of his charitable patronages to younger members of the royal family when he turned ninety this past year, he remained president of the Cutty Sark Trust to oversee the restoration work to its completion.

Plaque commemorating the site of the Palace of Placentia at Greenwich.

Greenwich has been the setting for significant events in royal history for centuries. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who served as regent for his nephew Henry VI, built the original Greenwich Palace in 1447, naming it Bella Court. After Humphrey’s arrest and imprisonment for treason, Henry VI’s consort, Margaret of Anjou, gained possession of the estate, renaming it the Palace of Placentia. It was one of Henry VIII’s principle residences and the setting of some of the most significant events of his reign including the births of his daughters, the future Mary I and Elizabeth I, and his wedding to his fourth wife, Anna of Cleves. The palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil Wars and was demolished in the reign of Charles II. The grounds became the site of the Royal Naval College. Parts of the surviving Tudor chapel and vestry were incorporated into the residence of the Treasurer of Greenwich Hospital.

The Queen's House at Greenwich, now part of the National Maritime Museum, designed by Inigo Jones.

In 1616, King James I’s consort, Anna of Denmark, commissioned the Queen’s House at Greenwich, one of the earliest examples of Palladian architecture in England. By this time, Anna and James were living separately with Greenwich serving as one of the Queen’s estates. Anna undertook extensive independent cultural and architectural patronage, commissioning Inigo Jones to design her new residence in the style of an Italian Renaissance villa.

Only the first floor of the Queen’s House was complete when Anna died in 1619. Construction resumed when the estate became part of the dower lands of Charles I’s consort Henrietta Maria in 1632. Like her mother-in-law, Henrietta Maria was a prolific cultural patron. She invited famous artists such as Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemesia to work on the interiors and the Queen’s house was finally completed in 1638.

The Ranger's House at Greenwich, which was a Grace and Favour residence for George VI's mother-in-law, Princess Augusta of Brunswick, his cousin, Princess Sophia Matilda and Queen Victoria's third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.

A third royal residence at Greenwich was the Ranger’s House, which served a Grace and Favour residence for three members of the royal family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. King George III’s unmarried niece, Princess Sophia Matilda was given the position of Ranger of Greenwich park and lived in the Ranger’s House from 1814 until her death in 1844. Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, moved into the house in 1862, at the age of twelve, with his tutor, to study for entrance to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He used the house until he was twenty-two, during his studies at Woolwich and his leaves from military service in Canada. The Duke eventually served as Governor General of Canada from 1910 to 1916. The Ranger’s House is now a museum, housing the Wernher Collection of Fine Art.

The reopening of the Cutty Sark today by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip continues the long tradition of royal visits to Greenwich. In honour of the Diamond Jubilee, the Queen has designated Greenwich a royal borough, an appropriate status for a place that has been the setting of centuries of royal history.

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CKNW Radio Interview Today about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st Anniversary

I will be interviewed this afternoon at 1:45pm Pacific Time, 4:45pm Eastern Time on CKNW Vancouver about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st Anniversary. You can listen live online here. All CKNW interviews are archived online for one month here, if would like to listen anytime in the next thirty days.

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