Upcoming Guest Lecture: The Future of the Monarchy and the Global Commonwealth, September 16, Kingston Later Life Learning

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in Canada in 2010

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in Canada in 2010

I will be giving a talk about The Future of the Monarchy and the Global Commonwealth for Later Life Learning in Kingston, Ontario on September 16, 2016 at 10am.

The talk will be followed by a sale and signing of my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada.

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Click here to purchase my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada

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CBC Radio Yukon Interview: Royal Visits and Local Politics

Princess Alexandra opens the MacBride Museum of Yukon History in Whitehorse during her 1967 Canadian centennial tour

Princess Alexandra opens the MacBride Museum of Yukon History in Whitehorse in 1967

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.

Click here to listen to my interview with CBC Radio Yukon

Click here to pre-order my latest book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

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The Weekend Bookshelf: The Tudor Brandons, Ivan’s War and Water for Elephants

 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). ***

History: Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

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. ***

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Canadian Itinerary for Fall 2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Ottawa for Canada Day in 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Ottawa for Canada Day in 2011

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.

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CBC News Interview: Will Prince George and Princess Charlotte come to Canada? The pressures of taking the royal children on a trip

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George arrive in Sydney. Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George arrive in Sydney. Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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.

Click here to read: Will Prince George and Princess Charlotte come to Canada? The pressures of taking the royal children on a trip

My book on royal parenting, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting will be published by Dundurn Press in 2017. 

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CBC The National Interview: William and Kate to Visit Canada

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canada in 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canada in 2011

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.

Click here to watch the interview on CBC The National

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National Post Interview: Canadians aren’t keen on the idea of King Charles — but ditching the monarchy would prove no easy task

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

I was interviewed by Ashley Csanady at the National Post about the royal succession and Canadian attitudes toward the monarchy and the Prince of Wales. In the article, I discuss royal attitudes toward abdication, how Prince Charles’s reputation has evolved over time and historical instances of monarchs being succeeded by their grandchildren.

Click here to read Canadians aren’t keen on the idea of King Charles — but ditching the monarchy would prove no easy task in the National Post

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My review of Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar in Canadian Slavonic Papers

I have reviewed Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913–1918, translated and edited by Helen Azar  for Canadian Slavonic Papers.

Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second of the four daughters of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra, was murdered alongside her family in 1918, at the age of twenty-one. The remains of the Imperial family were excavated in the 1990s and are now buried in the Peter and Paul fortress in St. Petersburg. Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar captures the experiences and achievements of the young grand duchess during one of the most tumultuous periods in Russia’s history.

Click here to read the full review in the Canadian Slavonic Papers

Click here to purchase Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913–1918

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Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe review in the Royal Studies Journal

My book, Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette, has received an excellent review in the Royal Studies Journal.  Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe received the Royal Studies Journal 2016 prize for best book on the history of monarchy earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from the review:

“In an eminently readable and accessible book, Harris, through the use of a variety of printed and manuscript sources, paints a detailed picture of two queens. Though separated by a century, they faced similar struggles and both lost much in those battles. Comparative work can be difficult, but Harris’ work makes for a compelling and informative read. She shows the reader, through their comparison with one another, more about who each of these women were as living, breathing people, and she aptly demonstrates how the role of the consort subtly changed in the century from Henrietta Maria to Marie Antoinette.”

Click here to read the full review in the Royal Studies Journal

Click here to purchase Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette

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New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Prince Harry

Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in London, 2014

Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in London, 2014

My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is a profile of Prince Harry.

His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, known by his nickname Prince Harry, is fifth in line to the throne of Canada, the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms (born 15 September 1984 in London, United Kingdom). Prince Harry is a grandson of Her Majesty (HM) The Queen (Elizabeth II); the younger son of the heir to the throne, HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and the late Diana, Princess of Wales; and younger brother of HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William). Prince Harry is the founder of the Invictus Games, a series of athletic competitions for wounded, injured and sick armed forces personnel from around the world. The third Invictus Games will be held in Toronto in September 2017.

Click here to read my full article about Prince Harry in the Canadian Encyclopedia

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