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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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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Updated Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Prince Charles (HRH The Prince of Wales)

The Prince of Wales

I have updated my article about Prince Charles in the Canadian Encyclopedia to include the 2017 tour of Nunavut, Ontario and the National Capital region in honour of the 15oth anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Charles and Camilla spent Canada Day in the National Capital Region. Charles first met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and then was invested as Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada. He later made a speech on Parliament Hill, which included extensive remarks in French and a warm tribute to Governor General David Johnston, whose term ends in September 2017. During their time in the National Capital Region, the royal couple also helped open the Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History, unveiled the Queen’s Entrance at Rideau Hall and reopened the newly renovated National Arts Centre.”

Click here to read Prince Charles (HRH The Prince of Wales) in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

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Toronto Sun Interview: Canada and the royals during the wars

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Toronto City Hall in 1939

I discussed the history of the monarchy in Canada during the First and Second World Wars with Antonella Artuso from the Toronto Sun. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

“Historian Carolyn Harris, who has just released her third book, Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting, said the monarchy retained tight links with Canada throughout both world wars, from 1914-18 and from 1939-45.

The Earl of Athlone (seated right) with the Allied leaders at the Quebec Conferences.

“What’s very striking about the First and Second World Wars is that the governor general was a member of the royal family, that Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, was governor general for much of WWI … and his daughter, Princess Patricia, became extremely popular during her time in Canada, that her image was on the $1 bill for a year during the First World War and she also became patroness of the Princess Patricia’s (Canadian) Light Infantry,” Harris said. “There was a lot of engagement with Canadian troops.”

Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone, served as governor general from 1940 to ’46, and he and his wife, Princess Alice of Albany, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, hosted European royalty fleeing the Nazis during WWII.”

Click here to read “Canada and the royals during the wars” in the Toronto Sun

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CBC News Network Interview: The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Visit Prince Edward County

Prince Charles tours the Wellington Farmer’s Market in Ontario, Friday June 30, 2017.
[Photo credit: Peter J. Thompson]

I discussed the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to Prince Edward County on the CBC News Network this afternoon including Prince Charles’s interest in organic farming, the first royal walkabout in Canada in 1939 and the history of Queen Elizabeth II’s Canadian tours

Click here to watch: “Carolyn Harris interview – Live coverage of royal tour on CBC News Network”

I am also quoted in the CBC article “Retired soldier takes to life on the farm, with help from Prince Charles”

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CBC News Interview: Is Prince Charles misunderstood?

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

I discussed the Prince of Wales’s reputation and philanthropy with Janet Davison at CBC News, in advance of his tour of Canada with the Duchess of Cornwall, which will include Nunavut, Prince Edward County and Ottawa for the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“In Canada, there’s also a feeling the public perception of Charles has been changing. “I have the sense that it’s much more positive now than it has been in the past,” says Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based author and royal historian.

“Some of the causes Prince Charles has been engaging with have become very topical and raised the profile of these tours,” says Harris, whose book Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting was recently published.”

Click here to read “Is Prince Charles Misunderstood at CBC News”

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CBC News Interview: ‘Bit of a loose cannon’: Why Prince Harry’s musings on the monarchy may not be so surprising after all

Prince Harry at the official press launch of Walking with the Wounded in 2010.

I discussed Prince Harry’s recent remarks about the monarchy with Janet Davison at CBC News. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“Harry’s comments about how the Royal Family is “involved in modernizing the British monarchy” and how “we are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people” also conjured up memories of his grandfather.

“I think there are very striking similarities to Prince Philip’s comments in Canada in the 1960s about how monarchy exists for the people rather than for the monarch,” says Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal historian and author of the recently published Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting.”

Click here to read the full interview: “‘Bit of a loose cannon’: Why Prince Harry’s musings on the monarchy may not be so surprising after all” at CBC.ca

I also discussed Prince Harry with 610CKTB radio St. Catharines. Click here to listen to the interview.

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