Category Archives: The Royal Succession

How Prince George Has Transformed the Royal Family

Prince George of Cambridge at his christening on October 23, 2013. Photo Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images

Prince George of Cambridge at his christening on October 23, 2013. Photo Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images

Prince George of Cambridge, son of William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and third in line to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth thrones will celebrate his first birthday on July 22.

Prince George of Cambridge has had a profound effect on public perceptions of the monarchy during his first year. The senior members of the royal family have all received media coverage based on their relationship to the infant prince. Queen Elizabeth II, who is now the great-grandmother of four, is in a similar position to Queen Victoria after the birth of the future King Edward VIII in 1894: a respected elder stateswoman with three generations of direct heirs.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

Recent coverage of the Prince of Wales emphasizes his role as a doting grandfather. During his overseas tours over the past year, he has received numerous gifts for George. In Sri Lanka, in November 2013, Charles visited a tea plantation on the 1,000 acre Labookellie estate, receiving a two silver plated tea caddies, one for himself and one for his grandson. In Canada, in May 2014, Charles received a miniature leather flying jacket with a fur-lined collar from the Stevenson Air Hangar in Winnipeg.

Charles has incorporated his new role as a grandfather into his environmental activism. In a speech delivered in Charlottetown during his recent Canadian tour, Charles stated, “In other words, the health of nature’s life support systems, which are now under such threat, has a direct bearing upon the health and well-being of people…“I have long tried to draw attention to this connection but it has come into even sharper focus now that I am a grandfather.” The Duchess of Cornwall was already the grandmother of five at the time of George’s birth, including William and Catherine’s bridesmaid, Eliza Lopes, but the arrival of Charles’s first grandchild has focused public attention on her warm rapport with young children.

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

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

For William and Catherine, the arrival of their son has focused public scrutiny on their parenting decisions. From the time of George’s birth last year, it has been clear that the royal couple are determined to make their own decisions regarding their son’s upbringing. William drove Catherine and George home from the hospital himself. The new parents spent months in comparative seclusion after the birth, spending time with their baby at  Balmoral Castle and the Middleton family home in Berkshire.

In April 2014, George contributed to the success of William and Catherine’s tour of Australia and New Zealand. While William also traveled with his parents to the same countries as an infant, the 2014 itinerary included engagements specifically designed to showcase George. His public appearances, including visits to a Wellington play group and Sydney zoo were the most anticipated stops on the tour. In Australia, George was nicknamed “the republican slayer” because of the surge in the royal family’s popularity during the tour, just fifteen years after the Australian referendum on the future of the monarchy.

Princess Anne

Princess Anne

The Prince George effect is not confined to the royal baby’s parents, grandfather and great-grandparents. Other members of royal family have also received press coverage based on their relationship with George. Prince Harry’s rapport with children has received extensive attention and there is speculation that he is “desperate” to marry and start a family of his own. Although Princess Anne stated the day after George’s birth that his arrival had “Nothing to do with me, but it’s very good news,” her October 2013 visit to Canada received media attention as a tour by the royal baby’s great-aunt that took place at the same time as his christening. Reports on the christening of Maud Windsor, granddaughter of the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, emphasized that she would be the first to wear the replica Victorian christening gown after George.

In the past year, the arrival of Prince George has changed how the public in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth view the entire royal family. As great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles or cousins of the world’s most famous baby, all the members of the royal family have become the focus of increased popular interest. As George approaches his 1st birthday, he continues to transform how the public connects to the monarchy.

 

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The Truth About Royal Spending

 

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

My column in today’s Ottawa Citizen corrects some longstanding misconceptions about Royal Finances, discussing the Sovereign Grant and the history of other sources of royal income. I explain why reports that Prince William received a helicopter from the Queen for his 32nd birthday and that renovations to Kensington Palace will be billed to “the taxpayer” are inaccurate.

Click here to read “The Truth About Royal Spending” in the Ottawa Citizen

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Monday Royal News Roundup: Trooping the Colour, Prince William’s First Father’s Day and Juan Carlos’s title

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh parading down the Mall for the 2014 Trooping the Colour Parade. Photo credit: Chris Jackson?GETTY

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh parading down the Mall for the 2014 Trooping the Colour Parade. Photo credit: Chris Jackson?GETTY

1) The Queen Celebrated Her Official Birthday in the United Kingdom on June 14, 2014 at the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony

The History: In the British Isles, the monarch’s birthday has been a time for public celebrations for centuries. Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603) employed a “Fire Master of England” to release fireworks on special royal occasions. The earliest versions of the Trooping the Colour parade date from the reign of King Charles II (r. 1660-1685). Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, regiments displayed their flags in a parade, enabling all soldiers to recognize their regimental colours for use as a rallying point in battle. During the reign of King George II (r. 1727-1760), Britain decided to combine the celebration of the sovereign’s official birthday with the Trooping the Colour Parade. In 1901, King Edward VII, whose actual birthday was November 9, decreed that the Trooping the Colour should always take place in June and was the first monarch to review the troops in person at this event. The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour every year of her reign except for 1955, when a railway strike prompted the cancellation of the event.

The celebration of the sovereign’s official birthday varies throughout the Commonwealth. For more on how the Queen’s birthday is celebrated outside the UK, including Victoria Day in Canada see my blog post “Why The Queen’s Annual Birthday Celebrations Take Place On Different Days Around The World”

Prince George and the Duchess of Cambridge at the polo match. Photo credit: Splash news

Prince George and the Duchess of Cambridge at the polo match. Photo credit: Splash news

2) Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge celebrated his first Father’s Day on the polo field. The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George were there to watch the game.

The History: Prince George of Cambridge, who will be one year old next month, made his first public appearance since his April tour of New Zealand and Australia with his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, when he attended a charity polo match on Father’s Day.  George wore red and white striped overalls to the Jerudong Polo Trophy at Cirencester Park Polo Club demonstrating that William and Kate are not constrained by “blue for a boy, pink for girl” stereotypes when dressing their son. George’s overalls are reminiscent of earlier eras when all royal babies were dressed similarly. For example, the generation of European royal babies born in the two decades before the First World War wore white dresses as infants then sailor suits as toddlers.

Prince William enjoys a close relationship with his son, George, and father, Prince Charles. Multiple generations of harmonious father-son relationships are rare in royal history. For centuries, raising an heir often meant raising a rival. The 18th century House of Hanover was notorious for the poor relationships between monarchs and their adult sons but other dynasties also had their share of absentee, resentful or overbearing royal fathers. In contrast, both Charles and William were present in the delivery room when their children were born and have taken an active role in child rearing.

For more on the history of royal fatherhood, see my Father’s Day 2013 column, “A New Kind of Royal Father

Princess Letizia, Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain. Photo credit: Abraham Carralero/Getty

Princess Letizia, Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain. Photo credit: Abraham Carralero/Getty

3) King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain are expected to keep their titles after the installation of the new King Felipe VI on June 19

The History: Following the installation of their son as King Felipe VI, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are expected to retain the titles of King and Queen. Spain’s government is also taking measures to ensure that Juan Carlos retains some degree of the judicial immunity he enjoyed as King after he abdicates, examining measure to prevent civil suits, such as paternity cases.

Spain has debated the appropriate title for a reigning monarch’s father before. When Juan Carlos became King in 1975, he succeeded the dictator Francisco Franco rather than his father, Infante Juan so the new King had to address the question of his father’s title under a restored Spanish monarchy. Two years after Juan Carlos became King, Juan formally renounced his rights to the throne and received the historic title of Count of Barcelona. Since the Catalan parliament in Barcelona approved a declaration asserting that Catalonia is a sovereign entity last year “Count of Barcelona” would be a controversial title for Juan Carlos in the 21st century.

The Counts of Barcelona were instrumental to the eventual unification of Spain. For more on Barcelona’s royal history, see my blog post, “A History of Barcelona in Three Royal Marriages.”

 

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Upcoming Royal Chat: Will Queen Elizabeth abdicate?

I will be participating in a Postmedia online royal chat this Wednesday, June 4 at 2pm ET on King Juan Carlos of Spain’s plans to abdicate, whether the continental European trend toward abdication will have any influence on Queen Elizabeth II, royal attendance at  the D-Day 70th anniversary ceremonies , Prince Philip’s 93rd birthday and the Duke of York’s upcoming visit to Canada.

Click here to read the chat and submit your questions!

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My column in today’s Globe and Mail about Prince Charles’s remarks on Vladimir Putin

My column in today’s Globe and Mail discusses Prince Charles’s remarks on Vladimir Putin. There’s a long history of royalty making critical remarks about Russia but still fulfilling their duties as constitutional monarchs.

Click here to read “A Future King and that Hitler thing” in the Globe and Mail

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The Monarchy in Canada: HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles)

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

My article in the Canadian Encyclopedia about the Prince of Wales was published today. The piece focuses on the Prince’s time in Canada as well his philanthropy and philosophy on the natural world.

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

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Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government and the Postwar Commonwealth by Philip Murphy (Review)

The second Monday in March is Commonwealth Day and Queen Elizabeth II will mark the occasion by attending a multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey with the Duke of Edinburgh, High Commissioners, Commonwealth dignitaries and young people from around the world. Women’s education advocate Malala Yousafzai will deliver the keynote address. The 2000 person congregation will be the largest Commonwealth Day observance but similar events will take place around the world including a Canadian Commonwealth Day Observance Service in Toronto, in the presence of The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

In the twenty-first century, the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth as a family of nations are synonymous in the popular imagination. Recent coverage of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGMs) has emphasized the importance of these events for the Queen and the future of the monarchy. In 2011, coverage of the Perth CHOGM focused on the support for succession reform in the sixteen Commonwealth Realms where the Queen is Head of State. In 2013, the presence of the Prince of Wales in Sri Lanka, representing the Queen, sparked discussion of the changing face of the monarchy as the Queen’s children and grandchildren assume more of the royal duties and overseas engagements once undertaken by the monarch.

In Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth, Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Professor of British and Commonwealth Studies at the University of London explains that the current “Royal Commonwealth” was a controversial idea for much of the organization’s history. As much of the former British Empire transformed into a Commonwealth of independent nations after the Second World War, it seemed inevitable that the connection with the monarchy would gradually weaken. Newly independent African nations were encouraged to become republics rather than constitutional monarchies. The Queen took her role as Head of the Commonwealth seriously and became the most traveled monarch in history but the desirability of a “ceremonial head” for the Commonwealth was a matter of debate.

For Canadian readers, there is plenty of fascinating material about the decline and rebirth of the Canadian monarchy during the reign of Elizabeth II. In recent years, Australia had a referendum about the future of the monarchy while Canada was chosen as a friendly destination for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first overseas tour as a married couple in 2011. During the 1960s, Canada was the nation that appeared more likely to become a republic as the Quiet Revolution fostered negative attitudes toward the Crown in Quebec and prominent Canadians mused about the gradual decline of the monarchy in Canada. The Duke of Edinburgh’s remark at a 1969 Ottawa press conference, “We don’t come here for our health…we can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves” has been dismissed as a gaffe but Prince Philip was actually making a larger point about how monarchy exists in the interests of the people rather than the monarch.

Murphy also provides a fresh perspective on the Queen through his analysis of the Commonwealth. A number of recent biographies focus on her role as Queen of the United Kingdom and therefore emphasize her ceremonial role. By looking at the Queen through the context of the Commonwealth, Murphy reveals her multifaceted political influence around the world over the course of her reign. The Queen supported sanctions to aid the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and encouraged continued democracy in Ghana. Murphy also illuminates the influence of gender on public perceptions of the monarchy. Just as the public saw Queen Victoria as the “mother” of the British Empire, Elizabeth II has been viewed as a maternal figure for the Commonwealth.

Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth is an erudite and engaging study of the relationship between the monarchy and the Commonwealth since the Second World War. For the past sixty-two years, the Queen has been the one constant figure in the organization, her role endlessly scrutinized by successive governments around the world. It remains to be seen if the current model of a “royal commonwealth” will remain successful during future reigns.

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The Monarchy in Canada: HRH The Duke of Cambridge (The Prince William)

 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canada in 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canada in 2011

My article for the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia on Prince William is a short biography of the Duke of Cambridge that emphasizes his time in Canada and how the Canadian public responded to the royal wedding and his tours of Canada. The article also includes information on the birth of Prince George in 2013 and the succession reform debate in Canada.

Click here to read HRH The Duke of Cambridge (The Prince William) in the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia.

Next: HRH The Prince of Wales (The Prince Charles)

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The Definition of Royalty

Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne and eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II

Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne and eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II

With the arrival of a baby girl for the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and her husband Mike Tindall last Friday, there has been renewed interest in the size of the royal family of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.  The new baby is 16th in the line to the throne. Another royal baby born recently, Maud Windsor, granddaughter of the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, is 43rd in the line of succession.

A reader of the Royal Spectacle  blog asked how far down the line of a succession a person must be before they lose all contact with their royal ancestry and are no longer considered a member of the royal family. I addressed that question in a Royal Spectacle blog post, published today.

Click here to read my full answer to “Does a Royal Ever Stop Being a Royal?” on the Royal Spectacle blog.

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2013: The Royal Year in Review (July-December) and Royal News Predictions for 2014

Prince George of Cambridge at his christening on October 23, 2013. Photo Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images

Prince George of Cambridge at his christening on October 23, 2013. Photo Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images

Last week, I looked back at the key royal events from the first half of 2013. Here are the royal highlights from the past six months followed by a few predictions regarding the direction royal events will take in 2014.

July: July, 2013 became known as “The Great Kate Wait” as the world anticipated the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 1st child. On July 22, a baby boy was born. The intense media attention surrounding the arrival of the Prince suggests that the decisions William and Catherine make regarding the upbringing of their son will influence millions of parents around the world. The arrival of a son appeared to render gender neutral succession reform irrelevant for another generation but I wrote that it remains important that the United Kingdom and Commonwealth espouse gender equality through succession reform.

Once the baby Prince arrived, the next big piece of news was the announcement of his suitably royal name: George Alexander Louis. In addition to noting that George honours the regnal name of Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI and Louis honours the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, I wrote that the choice of Alexander may represent a nod to the monarchy’s Scottish heritage at a time when Scotland is considering devolution.

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III

August: In August, 2013, the controversy regarding the final resting place of Richard III’s remains intensified. A high court judge granted permission for descendants of the King’s relatives to challenge the plan to bury the King in Leicester Cathedral. The legal claimants, members of an organization called the Plantagenet Alliance, argue that Richard III would have wanted to be buried at York Minister. The legal challenge has not yet been resolved. In one of my columns, I placed Richard III’s “Bones of Contention” within the wider context of controversial royal excavations including Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his family in the 1990s.

September: In September, Prince William announced that he was leaving his job as a Search and Rescue Pilot, assuming full time royal duties following a period of transition. William also made clear that he intended to devote more time to his philanthropic initiatives, particularly wildlife conservation. While other royal commentators focused on the job that William was leaving behind, I wrote about the potential for him to make a difference through his environmental initiatives. Other members of Europe’s royal houses have discovered that the environment is a ideal cause for a multi-generational institution like the monarchy and William is building on the conservation efforts of his father and grandfather.

St. James's Palace in London

St. James’s Palace in London

October: On October 23, Prince George Alexander Louis was christened at St. James’s Palace in London. The christening attracted public interest because it would be the royal baby’s first public appearance since leaving hospital as a newborn. The choice of godparents reflected William and Catherine’s desire to honour their close friends rather than foreign royalty or friends of the sovereign. The christening ceremony was followed by the Queen and three generations of heirs posing for a historic photograph. At the time of Prince George’s christening, the baby’s great-aunt, Princess Anne was in Canada in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of The Grey & Simcoe Foresters, the Royal Canadian Medical Service (RCMS), and the Communications and Electronics Branch.

November: On November 1, the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited Toronto, attending a black tie Gala evening in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Canada. November also marked the launch of Magna Carta 2015 Canada website in anticipation of a historic exhibition of the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest that will tour Canada in 2015.

December: In December, the Queen and her family gathered at Sandringham for the traditional royal Christmas. Despite speculation that the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, and Prince Harry’s girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, would be part of the royal party, only members of the Queen’s family and their spouses joined the sovereign for Christmas. The 2013 Christmas message emphasized the Queen’s role as Head of the Commonwealth and included footage from the photo shoot that followed Prince George’s christening.

Royal News in 2014:

What Will Happen:

The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips will give birth to the monarch’s 4th great-grandchild. The due date is January 14.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will tour Australia and New Zealand in April, most likely with their baby son, Prince George.

On September 18, Scotland will vote on devolution. If Scotland decides to secede from the United Kingdom, the monarchy will become the main political link between England and Scotland, as it was at the time of the ascension of James VI of Scotland as James I of England of 1603.

What May Happen:

In 2014, Princess Beatrice may announce her engagement to her partner of seven years, Dave Clark. Although most 2014 royal wedding speculation is focused on Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas, Beatrice and Dave have been a couple for a much longer time and are far more likely to announce an engagement in 2014.

King Juan Carlos of Spain may announce his abdication. The 2013 abdications of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and King Albert II of Belgium demonstrated that retirement is becoming an increasingly acceptable choice for elderly monarchs in continental Europe. King Juan Carlos’s fragile health and declining popularity may prompt him to abdicate in favour of his son Felipe, Prince of the Asturias in 2014.

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