As governor general, the Earl of Aberdeen and his wife, Lady Aberdeen, focused on social welfare and engaging with Canadians of various backgrounds and cultures, setting precedents for the philanthropic initiatives of future governors general. Aberdeen also owned an estate in the Okanagan Valley and pioneered commercial fruit growing in the region.
I discussed the history of the role of the Governor General of Canada with the National Post. In contrast to the United Kingdom, where the Prime Minister and the Queen meet on a weekly basis, there is no set precedent in Canada for regular meetings between the Prime Minister and Governor General. As explained in the National Post:
“However, prime ministers and governors general might become best friends anyway. Royal historian Carolyn Harris told the National Post that Sir John A. Macdonald and Lord Dufferin were so close that Macdonald became godfather to the governor general’s son.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attended the Invictus Games wheelchair tennis event at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on September 24, their first official appearance together. I discussed the significance of this event with the Canadian Press. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
“Some royal watchers had earlier suggested the couple would hold off on a public appearance together for fear of stealing the spotlight away from the Games, but Harris said their presence has, in fact, brought more attention to the event.
She said it is interesting that they chose to attend wheelchair tennis together, noting that tennis courts have been “the setting for royal events since the Middle Ages.”
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“Harris says the modernity of Harry and Markle’s relationship is another factor that makes them interesting to the public.
“When we look at previous generations in the Royal Family, often the courtship was comparatively short before an engagement,” she says. “Charles and Diana, for instance, spent very little time together before becoming engaged. But in William and Harry’s generation, that has changed.”
On Saturday September 23, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle both attended the Opening Ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto, sitting apart from one another in the audience. I discussed popular fascination with the royal romance in a CBC interview. Here’s an excerpt:
“Because they’ve spoken so openly about their relationship, there’s already a great speculation,” said Harris, a history teacher at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. “When Prince Harry was in Antigua, for instance, the prime minister joked that Antigua is a great place for a honeymoon.”
Dufferin and his wife, Lady Dufferin, were the first viceregal couple since Confederation to become prominent figures in Canadian society, touring all provinces and meeting with Canadians from a wide variety of regions and social backgrounds. Dufferin set key precedents for future Governors General with his extensive travel and granting of academic and athletic honours to Canadians.
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.
As Governor General, Connaught was involved in military recruitment and philanthropy in Canada during the First World War. He also established the Connaught Cup for marksmanship in the RCMP and made extensive renovations to Rideau Hall. His daughter, Princess Patricia, was the first honourary Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
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 Monarchy
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.”