My latest interview with CBC.ca compares royal tours to celebrity appearances. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are often compared to celebrities because of their public profile but there are key differences between royal visits and celebrity travel including the connections between members of the royal family and Canadian institutions. I also discuss the role of royal parenting in shaping William and Kate’s public image.by
My chapter in Canada and the Crown: Essays in Constitutional Monarchy entitled “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” has been cited prominently in a new book, The Making of Women Artists in Victorian England: The Education and Careers of Six Professionals by Professor Jo Devereux at the University of Western Ontario.
“On July 24, 1878, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli invited the Marquess of Lorne to become Canada’s fourth Governor General, an appointment which, as Carolyn Harris points out, ‘reflected the long-standing personal relationship between Queen Victoria’s family and the newly self governing Dominion.’…Louise and Lorne could be said to embody for Canadians their continuing connection with the British monarchy, a connection that continues today in the style of the numerous royal visits to Canada, in the many regiments in the Canadian military named for Princess Louise, and in the fact that both the province of Alberta and Lake Louise, in Alberta are named for her.”
“The presence of Princess Louise and the Marquess of Lorne, their travels across this large country and their response to Canadian regionalism in the years just after Confederation in many ways helped define the future ceremonial visits to Canada by members of the British royal family that continue to this day. Carolyn Harris suggests that the ‘practice of royal visits encompassing the full range of Canadian geography was another precedent set in the nineteenth century that continues to shape the structure of royal tours of Canada.'”
Princess Louise was the first member of the royal family to visit the province of British Columbia, which will be toured by William and Kate, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte at the end of this month.
Click here to purchase Canada and the Crown: Essays in Constitutional Monarchy, which contains my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown.”by
The talk will be followed by a sale and signing of my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada.by
William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit the Yukon as part of their Canadian tour in September-October, 2016. (Click here to see their itinerary). I discussed the royal tour with Dave White at CBC Radio Yukon this afternoon, including parallels to Princess Alexandra’s 1967 Yukon tour, royal visits to Canada delayed because of election campaigns and the forthcoming publication of my 3rd book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting.by
Royal History: The Tudor Brandons: Mary And Charles – Henry VIII’s Nearest & Dearest by Sarah-Beth Watkins by Sarah-Beth Watkins.
When Michael Hirst wrote the screenplay for the Showtimes series, The Tudors, he was fascinated by King Henry VIII’s lifelong friend and brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Hirst wrote in The Tudors: Its’ Good to Be King, “Charles Brandon, was, perhaps, the only man in all of England to successfully retain Henry’s affection over a span of forty years.” Over the course of his reign, Henry remained close to Charles even though his friend committed the transgression of marrying the King’s widowed sister Mary without permission. Charles remained in favour even as Henry ordered the executions of formerly trusted advisers, Thomas More then Thomas Cromwell and queens, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Hirst made Charles a prominent character in The Tudors, giving the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk their most notable appearance in popular culture since the 1950s Walt Disney film, The Sword and the Rose.
Watkins, author of Lady Katherine Knollys, The Unacknowledged Daughter of Henry VIII, provides a short, readable biography of Charles and Mary in The Tudor Brandons. At the centre of the couple’s story is their elopement in 1515. Mary was the widow of King Louis XII of France and she married Charles Brandon to avoid being compelled to make another dynastic marriage. There would not be another instance of an English princess marrying a subject until Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise married John Campbell, Lord Lorne in 1871. Watkins provides a thoughtful analysis of the circumstances surrounding the controversial royal wedding including reasons why Henry VIII was inclined to forgive the match and the implicit challenge to his authority.
The Tudor Brandons also includes Brandon’s family history (he descended from a long line of opportunists who were often on the wrong side of the law) and Mary’s continued role in Anglo-French relations including her presence at the Field of the Cloth of Gold summit between Henry VIII and Francis I. Mary also exerted a cultural influence at court, shaping trends in fashion and country house gardens in addition to popularizing picnic suppers for the elite. Charles and Mary’s granddaughter Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, became a significant figure in later Tudor history and the family remains a part of popular culture today (For another biography of Henry VIII’s younger sister, see Mary Rose by David Loades). ***
There have been numerous books written about the experiences of the British “Tommy” or German “Fritz” fighting on the front lines of the Second World War. In Ivan’s War, Catherine Merridale, author of Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin, examines the daily life of “Ivan,” the Soviet soldier in what became known in Russia as The Great Patriotic War. Merridale provides the details of daily life at the front. In the early days of the war, adequate training (not to mention regular rations) were in short supply. Unless soldiers brought their own socks, they spent the war marching in one size fits all foot wrappers. There was no standardized system of leave and military service therefore meant long separations from families who also suffered hardships during the war.
In addition to reconstructing the daily lives of soviet soldiers during the Second World War, Merridale examines broader questions about the motives and worldviews prevalent within the Red Army. What motivated individual soldiers to keep fighting under such harsh conditions? What were the differences in perspective between older people, who might have had military experience from the First World War and the reign of Nicholas II and younger people, who had never known any other political system than the Soviet regime? How were women and religious majorities perceived? What were the factors that contributed to the atrocities committed by the Red Army in Romania, Hungary and East Prussia? Merridale concludes with a thoughtful analysis of the lasting impact of the wartime experience and includes the perceptions of the surviving veterans. ****
Historical Fiction: Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen.
When veterinary student Jacob Jankowski loses his parents in a car accident, he leaves Cornell university and runs away with a 2nd tier traveling circus during the depression. The book was adapted into an Academy Award Winning film, Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. In the novel, Jacob is ninety – or perhaps ninety-three, he can’t quite remember – looking back on his youth at the circus from his retirement residence. There’s a realism to his old age but his past unfolds like a fairy tale where the heroine is a elephant named Rosie.
Gruen based the novel on a series of true events that took place in Depression era American circuses and the setting is compelling, filled with intrigues on trains between small towns and tensions between performers and roustabouts. The characters have rather one dimensional personalities, however, and the ending is unconvincing. For circus themed historical fiction with more compelling characters, I recommend The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin or Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss. ***by
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s itinerary for their fall 2016 visit to Canada was announced today. They will tour British Columbia and the Yukon from September 24 until October 1. Here is the itinerary:
- September 24: Victoria
- September 25: Vancouver
- September 26: Bella Bella and Great Bear Rainforest, B.C.
- September 27: Kelowna, B.C. and then to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon
- September 28: Whitehorse and Carcross, Yukon
- September 29: Victoria
- September 30: Haida Gwaii, B.C.
- October 1: Victoria
I discussed the possibility of Prince George and Princess Charlotte accompanying their parents on the tour for CBC News Toronto this evening. Here’s the interview (around 26 minutes into the hour). The interview also appeared on The National.by
Royal History: Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance by Amy Licence When King Edward IV of England announced to his council in 1464 that he had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, his advisers responded “she was not, all things considered, a suitable wife for him, nor a woman of the kind who ought to belong to such a prince.” Elizabeth was not the wealthy foreign princess expected to become queen but the widow of a knight as well as the mother of two young sons. The unlikely royal romance has become part of popular culture, inspiring Philippa Gregory’s novel, The White Queen and a TV series of the same name.
Licence, author of Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen and Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen examines the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth and the culture of their court. The book stands out for its careful examination of the reputations of the King and Queen. Edward IV’s younger brother, Richard III, claimed the throne on the grounds that Edward and Elizabeth’s children were illegitimate. Edward’s reputation as a womanizer and Elizabeth’s image as a schemer suited Richard’s purposes and continue to appear in popular biographies and historical fiction to the present day. Licence examines Edward and Elizabeth within the context of their times, attempting to separate the surviving evidence from Edward IV’s reign from later speculation about the characters of the controversial King and Queen. ***
History: How To Be a Victorian: A Dawn to Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman Histories of the Victorian era often focus on the lives of the wealthy and powerful. Goodman is interested in the daily routines of ordinary people in nineteenth century England from the city clerks (whose offices were only heated to 10 degrees in the winter, if at all, necessitating heavier business suits than those worn today) to the farm labourers (who ate better meals in the north where potatoes and oatmeal were widely available than in the south where bread was the staple food). The book is structured as a day in the life for the average Victorian, from stepping out of bed onto a tiny homemade rug made from woven rags to washing dishes by gaslight after the evening meal.
Goodman is uniquely placed to explain daily life in the nineteenth century as she starred in the the BBC historical documentary series, Victorian Farm. Goodman combines diaries, letters and advertisements from the Victorian era with her own experiences doing laundry with a hand cranked washing machine, keeping clean with a pitcher and basin, going to the seaside in a voluminous nineteenth century bathing suit and wearing a corset for months at a time. How To Be a Victorian is a treasure trove of fascinating details about an era that still influences the structure of daily life today. ****
Historical Fiction: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton In Catton’s novel (winner of the Man Booker prize and Governor General’s Literary Award), a series of unexplained events occur near the New Zealand goldfields in 1866. An enormous fortune appears in the cabin of an intoxicated hermit, one of the wealthiest prospectors disappears and a “camp follower” appears to have attempted suicide. Newcomer Walter Moody stumbles upon a meeting of twelve men at a local hotel determined to get the bottom of these mysteries and he becomes involved in the investigation. The Luminaries includes the classic structure and plot elements of nineteenth century novels. Chapters have headings like “In which Harald Nilssen reneges on a contract; the holy book; Cowell Devlin is confounded; and George Shepard forms a plan.” Characters hold seances, struggle with opium addiction, attempt to hide family secrets and seek their fortunes. Over the course of eight hundred pages, details emerge connecting the characters one another – and the wider mystery – in unexpected ways within a broader astrological framework. The perfect book for a long train journey. ****by
My eight week evening course about the life and legacy of King Richard III is open for enrollment at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. All are welcome. Click here for more information and to register.
The discovery in 2012 of the remains of Richard III underneath a parking lot in Leicester revived a centuries-old debate. Is he one of history’s greatest villains or the victim of Tudor propaganda? We will look at the bloody upheaval of the Wars of the Roses, including the famous disappearance of his nephews, the young Princes in the Tower. Was Richard the scheming villain of Shakespeare’s play or the misunderstood king who is the hero of modern novels by writers like Josephine Tey and Philippa Gregory? Join us to study a fascinating example of what may happen to leaders’ reputations once they’re dead.by
While I was on vacation this past week, CBC news published my interview about royal children and royal tours. Since the article was posted on Sunday, there have been reports that William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will bring their two children Prince George and Princess Charlotte on their official tour of Canada next month. My interview discusses the history of royal children on Commonwealth tours and the impact of the presence of royal children on popular attitudes toward the monarchy.by
William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be touring Canada for the second time as married couple in the fall of 2016. The 2016 tour will include British Columbia and the Yukon, a province and territory that were not part of the royal couple’s 2011 visit. The royal couple’s two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte may accompany them to Canada.
I discussed the impact of royal children and royal tours on popular support for the monarchy with Ellen Mauro on The National.by