New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn

Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn

My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Queen Victoria’s 3rd son, Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (1850-1942), Governor General of Canada from 1911 to 1916.

As Governor General, Connaught was involved in military recruitment and philanthropy in Canada during the First World War. He also established the Connaught Cup for marksmanship in the RCMP and made extensive renovations to Rideau Hall. His daughter, Princess Patricia, was the first honourary Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Click here to read Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn in the Canadian Encyclopedia


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My October-November 2017 course at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies: Women In Power

“Boadicea Haranguing the Britons” by John Opie

In the Fall of 2017, I will be teaching an eight week course about the history of Women in Power at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. Click here for more information and to register:

Time and Date:

03 Oct 2017 – 21 Nov 2017 
7:00PM – 9:00PM

Course Description:

Powerful women have presented themselves as warrior queens, rulers by divine right, wives and mothers and, most recently, as elected officials. We’ll examine the most significant female political figures in history, including Boadicea, Queen Isabella, Queen Elizabeth I, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton. Through lively lectures and discussions, you’ll learn the story of women in political life. Why are women still underrepresented in political life? Join Carolyn Harris for a fascinating look at the often-neglected place of women in power from Cleopatra to Angela Merkel.

Learning Outcomes:


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CBC Interview: Meghan Markle publicly confirms she and Prince Harry are ‘in love’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (photo credit: Hello! Magazine)

I discussed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Nicole Ireland at CBC News. In a break from royal tradition, Markle spoken openly about her relationship with Harry in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine.

I explained how Markle’s interview represents a break from royal tradition. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with CBC News:

A public statement of any kind about romantic relationships is a departure from royal tradition, said Harris, who wrote Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting.

“In the past, the palace has not confirmed who members of the royal family are dating, only engagements,” she said.

Click here to read “Meghan Markle publicly confirms she and Prince Harry are ‘in love'” at

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New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Marquess of Lorne

John Campbell, , Marquess of Lorne

My latest article in the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia is about the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

As Governor General, Lorne founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook extensive tours of western Canada, proposing the names Alberta and Lake Louise in honour of his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. Lorne’s patronage of Canadian artists set precedents for future Governors General and his books promoted Canadian landscapes, culture and history to a wide international audience.

Click here to read my article on John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Marquess of Lorne in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

I have also written articles about the Marquess of Lorne’s wife, Princess Louise and mother-in-law, Queen Victoria in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

For more about the Marquess of Lorne, Princess Louise and their reception in Canada, read my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” in Canada and the Crown: Essays on Constitutional Monarchy

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University of Toronto News Interview: Diana’s legacy, 20 years after her death

The Prince and Princess of Wales on their wedding day in 1981

I discussed the life and legacy of Diana, Princess of Wales with University of Toronto news on the 20th anniversary of her death.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

How has the U.K. media been covering the anniversary of her death?

“There are two main components to British media coverage of Diana’s death: new insights about Diana’s life and legacy and reflection on the impact of Diana’s death on British society. During her lifetime, Diana was one of the most famous women in the world and spoke openly to the press about the difficulties she faced as a member of the Royal Family and during the breakdown of her marriage. The media today is therefore fascinated by new information, including new insights from her sons and the controversial tapes recorded for Diana’s voice coach.”

Click here to read the full interview: U of T expert on Diana’s legacy, 20 years after her death

I also discussed Diana’s advocacy for victims of landmines with the Kingston Whig-Standard. Click here to read the interview: Diana Advanced Land Mine Ban

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CBC and Canadian Press Interviews about Diana, Princess of Wales

Lady Diana Spencer surrounded by photographers immediately prior to the announcement of her engagement to the Prince of Wales

I discussed the life and legacy of Diana, Princess of Wales with the CBC and the Canadian Press for the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death in 1997.

Click here to read “Canadians reflect on Princess Diana with 20th anniversary of her death nearing” in the Canadian Press

Click here to read “The Diana myth: Why she haunts us still — 20 years after her death” at CBC News. 

I will be interviewed about Diana on CBC Alberta at Noon on Thursday, August 31.

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CBC Interview: History repeating itself: How the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death put her back in the spotlight

Diana, Princess of Wales at the Cannes film festival.

I discussed Diana, Princess of Wales with Janet Davidson at the CBC, leading up to the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death on August 31, 1997. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

“Anniversaries of historical events often offer an opportunity to look back and reflect on them, says Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal historian and author of the recently published Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting.

But Harris sees more in play here.

“It’s not simply a matter of looking back at how things were 20 years ago but that we’re seeing new perspectives on Diana’s passing, particularly the views of her sons.”

Click here to read the full article, “History repeating itself: How the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death put her back in the spotlight.”

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Nova Scotia Book Tour Dates in September

I will be giving readings, delivering lectures and signing books in Wolfville and Halifax, Nova Scotia in September. All are welcome! Here’s the book tour schedule:

September 14, 7pm: I will be giving a reading from my new book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting at The Box of Delight’s Bookshop in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Book signing to follow. More information available here.

September 15, 2:30pm: I will be giving a lecture about my 2nd book, Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette for the Early Modern Studies Program at the University of King’s College in Halifax. Signed copies of all three of my books will be available for purchase. Click here for more information.

September 16, 12pm: I will be participating in the Word on Street Halifax festival, giving a presentation about my 3rd book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting at the Halifax Central Library. Book signing to follow. The full schedule for the festival is available here.

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Hello! Magazine Interview: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement: 7 burning questions answered

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (photo credit: Hello! Magazine)

I discussed the protocol that would arise if Prince Harry became engaged to actress Meghan Markle in a recent interview with Hello! Magazine. The Royal Marriages act of 1772 required all descendants of King George II (with the exception of the descendants of princesses who married foreigners) to receive the permission of the monarch in order to contract a legal marriage.

Since the succession reforms of 2015, only the first six people in the line of succession require the permission of the monarch to marry. As Prince Harry is currently 5th in line to the throne, after his father Prince Charles, older brother Prince William and nephew and niece, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, he will need the permission of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, to marry.

Click here to read “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement: 7 burning questions answered” in Hello! Magazine 

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Book Reviews: The Penguin Monarchs Series: Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II

Edward VII: The Cosmopolitan King by Richard Davenport-Hines is filled with fascinating details about the King’s life including his enthusiasm for games (he had a bowling alley installed at the Marlborough Club) and popularity across Europe (there is still a park named for the King in Lisbon, Portugual) Davenport-Hines captures the atmosphere of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras as the Prince of Wales set the tone for the country house parties of “the smart set.” The author is less successful at describing the king’s personal relationships and engages in needless criticism of the physical appearance of Edward VII’s wife, Queen Alexandra, daughter-in-law, Queen Mary and daughters, Princesses Louise, Victoria and Maud. The 1860 tour of Canada and the United States, Edward’s first overseas tour as Prince of Wales, is almost entirely ignored. ***

Further Reading:

Bertie: A Life of Edward VII by Jane Ridley

George V: The Unexpected King is the best of the biographies of 20th century monarchs in the series. David Cannadine strikes the right balance between the King’s personal life and political views and presents his reign as a turning point when the royal family turned their personal attention from the extended family of European monarchs to the wider British Empire. George’s decision to deny asylum to his cousin, Czar Nicholas II in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, which had tragic consequences, is presented in this context of gradual withdrawal from the close bonds that united Europe’s royal houses before the First World War. Cannadine also discusses how the reign of George V saw the invention or revival of modern royal traditions including the Windsor name, the monarch’s annual Christmas broadcast and royal weddings in Westminster Abbey. *****

Further Reading:

The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan

Edward VIII: The Uncrowned King attempts to provide a balanced portrait of the controversial king who abdicated in 1936 to marry the twice divorced Wallis Simpson. Piers Brendon describes Edward’s accomplishments as Prince of Wales including raising morale on the Western Front during the First World War and successful tours of the British Empire and Dominions during the 1920s and 1930s. Brendon also examines Edward’s difficult relationship with his parents, limited education, self-centered outlook on life, and the frequent contrast between his public and private behaviour as Prince of Wales and King. Edward’s unsavoury political activities including his enthusiasm for Nazi Germany and interference in a murder case in the Bahamas do not receive enough attention and the tone of the biography is sometimes overly sympathetic to the King. ***

Further Reading:

The Woman Before Wallis by Andrew Rose

That Woman by Anne Sebba

 George VI: The Dutiful King presents Queen Elizabeth II’s father as a monarch who spent most his life overcoming his personal inclination for a quiet, retiring life to do his duty as King after the abdication of his elder brother, Edward VIII. Philip Ziegler, who previously wrote a full length biography of Edward VIII,  provides a nuanced portrait of George VI as a political figure, especially his popularity during the Second World War. Ziegler pays less attention to the King’s personal life. George VI’s successful marriage to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) receives some attention but the example and training that George VI provided for his daughter and successor should have received greater attention in this otherwise insightful biography. ****

Further Reading:

Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury

Elizabeth II: The Steadfast is a warm tribute to Queen Elizabeth II by Douglas Hurd, who has spent time with the Queen as British Home Secretary then Foreign Secretary. The preface is by the Queen’s grandson, HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William). The Queen is the most well traveled monarch in history and Hurd captures the atmosphere of royal tours. Hurd also discusses the Queen’s approach to her role, which combines caution and reserve with a willingness to embrace new technologies from television for the coronation in 1953 to social media for royal tours today. The scope of the Queen’s long reign, however, cannot be summarized in a short biography and there are whole aspects of the Queen’s reign, including her stewardship of the Royal Collection of art and subtle political influence in her role as Head of the Commonwealth, which are discussed in much greater detail in other books.  ***

Further Reading: 

Monarchy and the End of Empire by Philip Murphy

Our Queen by Robert Hardman

The Diamond Queen by Andrew Marr

Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith

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