Athlone served as Governor General during the Second World War and hosted the Québec Conferences at La Citadelle in 1943 and 1944, where Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt met to decide Allied strategy for victory over Germany and Japan. A maternal uncle of King George VI, Athlone was the last close relative of the monarch to serve as Governor General of Canada.by
As Governor General, Lorne founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook extensive tours of western Canada, proposing the names Alberta and Lake Louise in honour of his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. Lorne’s patronage of Canadian artists set precedents for future Governors General and his books promoted Canadian landscapes, culture and history to a wide international audience.
For more about the Marquess of Lorne, Princess Louise and their reception in Canada, read my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” in Canada and the Crown: Essays on Constitutional Monarchyby
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.
“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.”by
My article about Prince Rupert of the Rhine, cousin of King Charles II and 1st Governor of the Hudson’s Bay company appeared in the October-November 2015 issue of Canada’s History Magazine. The article is now available to read online. Here’s an excerpt:
“Prince Rupert of the Rhine, first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, had a profound effect on Canada’s history. Following his flight from Prague as an infant, he spent his life constantly on the move, undertaking military service in continental Europe and Great Britain and leading the royalist navy to the west coast of Africa and the Caribbean.
Rupert’s travels enabled him to recognize the significance of Radisson’s and Des Groseilliers’ discoveries and to envision an enterprise with the vast scope of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Moreover, the grant of Rupert’s Land to the company discouraged the Americans from expanding northward after the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the late eighteenth century.
Prince Rupert not only left his mark on the map of Canada, he helped to forge the modern nation.”by
Here is my schedule of guest lectures for October, November and December 2016. Click on the links for more information including times and ticket prices:
October 26, 2016, The Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto Speaker Series: The Queen and Commonwealth, Arts and Letters Club, Toronto
November 7, 2016, The Stateswoman: Perceptions of Female Leaders in 20th and 21st Centuries, Temple Emanu-el Lecture Series, Toronto
November 20, 2016, Victorian Christmas Traditions, Toronto’s 1st Post Office, Toronto
“Royal children on tour influence popular perceptions of the monarchy in two ways. First, they create a personal bond between royal parents and the public – parenting provides common ground between royalty and people of all backgrounds.
Second, royal children personify the future of the monarchy. Like Queen Victoria during the last years of her reign, Elizabeth now has three generations of direct heirs. At various points over the course of her long reign, there has been debate about the future of the monarchy. The presence of George and Charlotte in the coming royal visit demonstrates the potential for the monarchy to enjoy public support in Canada and the wider Commonwealth for generations to come.”by
The talk will be followed by a sale and signing of my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada.by
A collection of 60 photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor – the former King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson – touring Nazi Germany in 1937 has been auctioned for £6,830 this week. I was interviewed by BBC News about the controversial royal visit and am quoted in the article “When the Duke of Windsor met Adolf Hitler.”
Following his abdication in 1936, the Duke of Windsor was eager to carve out a new role for himself and ensure that his wife was treated as a full member of the royal family even though she had not received the title of “Her Royal Highness.” There was no precedent for an abdicated sovereign assuming an active public role on behalf of the current sovereign and the Duke was frustrated that he appeared to be expected to live a quiet life in exile.
The Duke of Windsor was familiar with Germany and had numerous relatives there. He seems to have envisioned a diplomatic role for himself as a mediator between Britain and Germany. Right up until the outbreak of the Second World War, there were senior figures in the British government who thought a lasting peace could be negotiated through diplomacy and the the Duke seems to have shared their views. When war was imminent in 1939, the Duke contacted Hitler hoping to negotiate a peaceful solution, attempting to draw upon the rapport they developed during the 1937 visit.
The Duke of Windsor’s ties with Nazi Germany made him a liability for Britain during the Second World War and he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas, which removed him from Europe for the remainder of the war. In the Bahamas, the Duke and Duchess continued to cause anxiety for the British government as their visits to the United States attracted an enormous amount of public attention and the Duke expressed pessimism about a British victory. He would not receive further official positions following the end of his term as Governor of the Bahamas.
Click here to my interview with BBC news in the article “When the Duke of Windsor met Adolf Hitler”
For more about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the Bahamas, see my blog posts:
For further reading about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, see my book reviews:
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Ferdinand and Isabella transformed a united Spain into a world power, sponsoring Columbus’ voyages to the Americas and forming alliances with other European kingdoms. This new Imperial Spain had a dark side: the rise of the Inquisition, the expulsion of Spain’s Jewish population and the exploitation of the native peoples in the colonies. Gold and silver from the Americas made Spain’s rulers the richest in Europe until its Golden Age came to an end with the wars of the 18th century. Learn about the rise and fall of Imperial Spain and its lessons for politics and international relations today.
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My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Monarchism in Canadian history, politics and culture. I discuss the role of monarchism in Canada’s Confederation, monarchist themes in Canadian literature, monarchist societies active in modern day Canada and critiques of monarchism. I also compare attitudes toward the monarchy in Canada with monarchism in other Commonwealth realms.by