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.
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.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“What stands out to me about the investiture is how it resembled a medieval ceremony,” said Toronto-based royal historian and author Carolyn Harris. “But in fact, the investiture ceremony for the Prince of Wales was a 20th century invention.”
It was considerably more elaborate than previous investitures, and the first such ceremony to be broadcast via the increasingly popular medium of television.
Here is the introduction: “US President Donald Trump is expected to make an official state visit to the UK in June 2019, which will include a state banquet and ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. But who was the first American leader to make a state visit to Britain? Which two monarchs wrestled one another during a state visit? And how has Queen Elizabeth II welcomed world leaders in the past? Dr Carolyn Harris takes a closer look at the pomp and history of the state visit to Britain, and those of British monarchs abroad… “