I will be giving a talk about the Queen in Canada at the Rockmosa Older Adult Centre in Rockwood, Ontario on June 8, 2016 at 11:30 in honour of the Queen’s 90th Birthday. Afternoon tea will be served.by
Here is the cover design of my forthcoming book Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting, which will be published by Dundurn Press in April 2017 in Canada and May 2017 in the USA and UK.
The cover of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting features Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s painting of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their five eldest children, which is now part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace. The heir to the throne, the future Edward VII, stands next to his mother, Queen Victoria, while Prince Alfred toddles in front of his parents. The royal couple’s two eldest daughters, Princess Victoria and Princess Alice are gathered around the cradle of their infant sister, Princess Helena.
The painting reflects the image of domestic harmony that Victoria and Albert presented to the public. The royal influence on parenting spread throughout the English speaking world. Mothers and fathers from a variety of social backgrounds took their children on seaside vacations and hosted Christmas celebrations where the entire family gathered around a decorated fir tree (a custom from Prince Albert’s childhood).
Behind palace walls, relations between the royal parents were more complicated. Victoria had little affinity for young children, writing, “an ugly baby is a very nasty object – and the prettiest is frightful when undressed. Until about 4 months; in short as long as they have their big body and little limbs and that terrible froglike action.” Albert spent more time in the nursery but the demanding educational program that he drew up for his elder children made the future Edward VII miserable. When her children grew up, Victoria expected to remain the dominant influence in their lives and shape the upbringing of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Victoria and Albert are just one of the twenty-five sets of British and European royal parents from the past thousand years profiled in my forthcoming book. Click here for more information and to pre-order Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting.by
I will be giving a talk about Queen Elizabeth II’s royal tours of Canada at the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library (824 1st Avenue West) in Owen Sound Ontario at 7pm on May 19, 2016.
All are welcome!by
While Harry has a reputation as a party prince, he’s expanded his public profile in recent years, serving in Afghanistan, representing the Queen at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and undertaking a successful Diamond Jubilee tour of the Caribbean. His philanthropic interests focus on youth and veterans.by
The Queen turns 90 today but the royal birthday celebrations will continue for the next few months as the monarch marks her official birthday in the United Kingdom in June and has special 90th birthday celebrations in May. Various Commonwealth realms celebrate the Queen’s birthday on different dates with Canada observing the occasion on the Victoria Day holiday in May.
I discussed the Queen’s many birthdays with Janet Davison at CBC News.by
The Queen turns 90 on April 21 and public celebrations will continue in May and June in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. I discussed the significance of the Queen’s 90th birthday with Janet Davison at CBC.ca.
I will be appearing on TV and radio throughout the day on April 21 to discuss the Queen at 90. Here is my schedule of interviews:by
The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday this month, an opportunity to look back on her long reign, which includes twenty-two tours of Canada. I discussed the 1959 royal tour by the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with Kate Bueckert at postmedia and I am quoted in the article “Queen Elizabeth’s top ten moments in Canada,” which appears in the Toronto Sun and other postmedia news outlets.
The 1959 royal tour was the Queen’s longest tour of Canada, the last whistle-stop tour where the royal couple crossed the country by train. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent six and half weeks in Canada, visiting every province and territory of the time. Subsequent royal tours were shorter, focusing on specific regions of the country, an approach that continues to the present day.
Canadians responded to the 1959 royal tour with enthusiasm and large crowds greeted the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at various stops along the tour, including the province of Quebec, where the Queen would encounter protesters just five years later in 1964. The occasional critical voice in the Canadian media met with strong disagreement by senior political figures and members of the public. When CBC journalist Joyce Davidson stated, “We’re still annoyed at still being dependent on a monarchy,” Nathan Phillips, Mayor of Toronto was quick to declare “[Davidson] doesn’t represent Canadians or the people of Toronto.”
Over the course of the royal couple’s itinerary, the Duke of Edinburgh assumed a greater public role as the Queen discovered that she was expecting Prince Andrew and needed time to rest within her busy schedule. (The Queen’s pregnancy was not public knowledge during the tour though Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker was one of the first be informed). Prince Philip performed solo engagements including a speech to the Canadian Medical Association at the Royal York hotel in Toronto where he encouraged Canadians to improve their level of physical fitness.
The 1959 royal tour remains one of the Queen’s most historically significant tours of Canada. The Queen opened the St. Lawrence Seaway as Queen of Canada with American President Dwight Eisenhower and had the opportunity to meet with Canadians from across and the country and various walks of life.
For more about the Queen in Canada, see my 2012 Diamond Jubilee series of articles:
I am pleased to announced that my book, Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette, is the recipient of the 2016 award for best book on the history of monarchy from The Royal Studies Journal, which was founded in 2013 by a group of international researchers and postgraduate students with the support of the University of Winchester. The award is sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University.
Click here to purchase Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinetteby
I will be giving a lecture about my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights for the Academy for Lifelong Learning Spring Talks at Innis College, University of Toronto on April 27, 2016 at 9:45am. The University of Toronto bookstore will be selling books at the event and a book signing will follow the talk. All are welcome!by
The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: The Biography, Catherine the Great and Potemkin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar begins by comparing the circumstances of two teenage boys. The first Romanov Czar, sixteen-year-old Michael I, was at the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma when he was approached by a delegation of Russian nobles imploring him to end the Time of Troubles by founding a new dynasty in 1613. Czar Nicholas II’s only son, Alexei, was thirteen when he was murdered along with the rest of his family by Bolshevik Revolutionaries in Ekaterinburg’s Ipatiev House in 1918. Michael and Alexei were the first and last heirs to a troubled dynasty that shaped Russian history for more than three hundred years.
The most famous figures from the Romanov dynasty, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas II are well known and have been the subject of dozens of books. Montefiore provides a fresh perspective on these rulers but the book really shines in its reinterpretation of more obscure Russian rulers. Peter the Great’s father, Alexei I has long been stereotyped as a meek and mild figure because of his piety but Montefiore makes clear that he was “an intelligent, restless and sharp tongued reformer who did not suffer fools gladly.” Peter the Great’s niece, Empress Anna’s harsh treatment of her nobles is often dismissed a personal caprice but Montefiore places her actions in the context of Peter’s determination to keep the nobility from becoming too powerful and threatening the ruler’s prerogatives.
Montefiore demonstrates the enduring influence of particular noble families from the seventeenth until the twentieth centuries such as the Dolgorukys and the Golitsyns. The support, or at least the obedience, of the nobility was crucial to an Emperor or Empress’s success as a ruler and is one of the reasons why serfdom existed in Russia until 1861, long after it had been abolished elsewhere in Europe. (Readers interested in the fate of the Russian nobility after the Revolutions of 1917 should read Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith.)
Montefiore avoids the names and patronymics familiar to readers of Russian novels and instead makes extensive use of nicknames to differentiate between Romanovs with similar names or successive generations of the same noble families. (A cast of characters at the beginning of each section provides the full names, titles and positions of all the people discussed in the book). There are times when this device is effective: the inclusion of Catherine the Great’s nicknames for her favourites such as Alexander “Iced Soup” Vasilchikov and Alexander “Mr. Redcoat” Dmitriev-Mamonov provides insights about how she felt about them and why some were far more influential than others. For the reign of the last Czar, Montefiore makes use of the nicknames used within the Imperial family, bringing the reader closer to Nicholas II’s conflicts with his relatives in the last years of the Romanov dynasty.
In the early chapters of the book, however, the nicknames make the powerful figures of seventeenth century Russia seem like characters out of folklore, undermining their political significance. The Polish noblewoman and warlord Marina Mniszech, consort of False Dmitri I and II is called “Marinka the Witch” in the book and Alexei I’s sister, Irina, is described as a malevolent spinster. Since there are no other figures in this section named Marina or Irina, these nicknames are unnecessary and provide a needlessly one dimensional image of these two powerful women.
Throughout The Romanovs: Ruling Russia 1613-1917, Montefiore makes clear that in an absolute monarchy, the personal is political and that the favourites and interests of each sovereign shaped state policy for more than three hundred years. Montefiore brings the Romanov rulers to life and addresses their impact on Russian politics and society today.
Other Books about the Romanov Dynasty:
The Romanov dynasty from beginning to end has been the subject of at least four major English language books before The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
The magisterial The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias by W. Bruce Lincoln separates the personal narratives of individual Czars from their domestic and foreign policies, providing a wider history of Imperial Russia as well as history of the dynasty. Like Montefiore, Lincoln devote an extended section to the last Czar and the collapse of the Romanov dynasty.
In The Romanovs: Ruling Russia 1613-1917, Lindsay Hughes provides an insightful analysis of the dynasty, highlighting the changing role of women in Imperial Russia. The impact of Peter of the Great’s reforms on the Russian elite receives particular attention. Readers interested in the wider impact of each Czar’s personality and policies both within Russia and abroad will want to turn to the books by Lincoln and Hughes after reading Montefiore’s The Romanovs: 1613-1918.
The Romanovs: The Rise and Fall of a Dynasty. by Ian Grey is written in a dry style with a much greater focus on the well known Romanov rulers than the lesser known sovereigns. He challenges the idea that the Romanovs were a tragic dynasty throughout their history and argues that Nicholas II’s predecessors often ruled successfully. Grey was writing in the 1960s and the role of the Soviet Union in the Cold War influences his interpretation of Romanov Russia.
The Tragic Dynasty: A History of the Romanovs by John Bergamini is written in an accessible style and covers the entire three hundred year scope of the Romanov dynasty. Like Grey, however, Bergamini was writing before the collapse of the Soviet Union and therefore did not have access to the full range of sources available to historians today. The book also contains numerous genealogical errors.
Next: Royal Tourists, Colonial Subjects and the Making of a British World, 1860-1911 by Charles V. Reedby