New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: King Edward VIII

My new article in the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia is a short biography of King Edward VIII.

Edward toured Canada on several occasions and purchased a ranch in Alberta. He is best known for abdicating the crown and marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Edward is mentioned in novels by several Canadian authors, including Robertson Davies, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Timothy Findley.

Click here to read my article about King Edward VIII in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Vanity Fair Interview: Burning Down the House

I discussed the future of the monarchy in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and the impact of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepping back from royal duties with Michelle Ruiz at Vanity Fair.

Click here to read “Burning Down the House” in Vanity Fair

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Princess Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught

My new article in the Historica Canada Canadiana Encyclopedia is about Princess Louise Margaret Alexandra Victoria Agnes of Prussia, Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn, vice-regal consort of Canada (1911–1916) and philanthropist. The Duchess of Connaught sponsored Red Cross hospitals for the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. The Duchess also sponsored art exhibitions in Canada and supported the work of Canadian artists.

Click here to read “Princess Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught” in the Canadian Encyclopedia

I have also written articles for the Canadian Encyclopedia about Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada from 1911 to 1916 as well as the Duke and Duchess of Connaught’s younger daughter, Princess Patricia of Connaught.

Books I’ve Read This Week: The Royal Family of Denmark

My New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to read a book (or listen to an unabridged audiobook) every day: 365 books by December 31. I will post my reviews here each week and provide regular updates on Twitter and Goodreads. Recommendations are always welcome!

Week 38: The Royal Family of Denmark When I visited the Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen this past summer, I was pleased to see that there is a new series of short biographies in both Danish and English about Denmark’s monarchs and royal residences. In recent weeks, I have read six volumes from the Crown series about 19th and 20th century Danish Kings and Queens as well as Rosenborg Castle and treasury. I also read a scholarly history book from the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy series, which examines the phenomemon of sailor princes in the 19th century, including Prince Waldemar of Denmark and his nephew, Prince George of Greece. Here are this week’s reviews:

#260 of 365 The ‘Sailor Prince’ in the Age of Empire: Creating a Monarchical Brand in Nineteenth-Century Europe  by Miriam Magdalena Schneider

Genre: History

Acquired: Borrowed from Robarts Library, University of Toronto

Dates Read: September 17-18, 2018

Format: E-Book, 318 pages

Review: A well researched and insightful analysis of four 19th century Princes who pursued naval careers: Prince Alfred of the United Kingdom (2nd son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert), Prince Heinrich of Germany (younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II), Prince Waldemar of Denmark (youngest son of King Christian IX) and Prince George of Greece (nephew of Prince Waldemar). These princes increased the popularity of their respective royal houses in the 19th century, became part of the celebrity culture of the era, cemented relationships between European and Asian royal houses, set precedents for the education of future royalty, and helped to connect global empires and communities. Schneider draws upon a broad range of sources and perspectives, revealing how complicated the lives and public images of these figures could be as they struggled to reconcile their identities as sailors and as princes. An essential book for anyone interested in 19th century European monarchies and their significance in a global context.

#261 of 365 Christian IX and Queen Louise: Europe’s Parents-in-Law by Jens Gunni Busck

Genre: History/Biography

Date Read: September 20, 2018

Acquired: Purchased at the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: A beautifully illustrated short biography of King Christian IX and Queen Louise, whose royal descendants include Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Christian came to the throne amidst complicated circumstances that are well explained in the book. A series of constitutional reforms, international treaties and contingencies within the royal families of Denmark, Russia and various German states allowed the fourth son of a minor Danish prince, and the daughter of Danish king’s sister to become King and Queen of Denmark. The transformation of Christian IX from a contested monarch unpopular because of military defeats and German connections in his extended family to the beloved father of the nation and father-in-law of Europe is also well developed.

I would have been interested to learn more about the family gatherings in Denmark when the British, Russian, Danish and Greek royal houses came together for long summer holidays. The author notes that “In fact we know nothing of what was talked about over cigars after dinner and it would have been odd if major European political issues had not been mentioned…” The illustrations are excellent and include photographs, portraits, a floral painting by Queen Louise, and the interiors of royal residences that demonstrate the couple’s personal asthetic and the design trends of the 19th century.

#262 of 365 Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa: The Overlooked Royal Couple by  Birgitte Louise Peiter Rosenhegn

Genre: History/Biography

Date Read: September 20, 2018

Acquired: Purchased at the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: King Frederik VIII is a rare example of a past reigning monarch who is less well known today than his younger siblings. His sisters Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom (consort of King Edward VII), Empress Marie of Russia (consort of Czar Alexander III) and King George I of Greece (grandfather of Prince Philip) are all more famous as historical figures.

This short biography explains that there was far more to “The Eternal Crown Prince” than his brief time as King between the long reigns of his father Christian IX and son Christian X. Frederik had a key diplomatic role during his father’s reign, striking up an unlikely friendship with Crown Prince Frederick of Germany, and he devoted much of his time to charitable endeavours. His long incognito walks and ability to engage with people from all walks of life was sometimes criticized as “too folksy” for a future King of Denmark.

As the only child of King Charles XV of Sweden, Lovisa was a well known public figure in her own right and she became an accomplished amateur artist and intellectual. Both Frederik and Lovisa had a complicated relationship with Frederik’s more famous siblings and spent limited time at royal extended family gatherings instead carving out their own immediate family sphere. The book is beautifully illustrated with royal portraits and photographs as well as examples of Lovisa’s paintings and calligraphy.

#263 of 365 Christian X and Queen Alexandrine: Royal Couple Through the World Wars by Jens Gunni Busck

Genre: History/Biography

Date Read: September 22, 2018

Acquired: Purchased from Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: A fascinating and beautifuly illustrated short biography of King Christian X, famous for his daily rides around Copenhagen during the Second World War German occupation of Denmark. The book does an excellent job of describing Christian X’s complicated personality. He was strongly influenced by his grandfather Christian IX and the strict upbringing that he received from his parents King Frederick VIII and Lovisa of Sweden. His military service also shaped his perspective on kingship. I would have been interested to read more about Queen Alexandrine, whose quieter character was overshadowed by that of her husband, as well as Denmark’s experience during the First and Second World Wars. The First World War is summarized especially quickly. The illustrations are lovely, especially a 1940 photograph of the elderly Christian X with his granddaughter, the future Queen Margarete II.

#264 of 365 Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid: The Modern Royal Couple by Jens Gunni Busck

Date Read: September 22, 2018

Genre: History/Biography

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Acquired: Purchased from the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Review: A short biography of Queen Margarete II of Denmark’s parents, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid and their impact on the Danish monarchy. While previous Danish monarchs experienced some difficulties setting the right tone for their court, the author explains that Frederik and Ingrid mastered “formal informality” creating a balance between royal tradition and accessibility. Royal banquets were renamed parties and live music and buffets were added to previously dull palace occasions. Both Frederick and Ingrid were interesting people in their own right: Frederick was a trained symphony conductor who made recordings for charity and Ingrid was a keen sportswoman and trendsetter throughout her long life, even popularizing mobility devices for the elderly during her last years. In common with the other books in the Crown series, this book is beautifully illustrated, including numerous photographs of the royal couple and their three daughters.

#265 of 365 Power, Splendour, and Diamonds: Denmark’s Regalia and Crown Jewels by Peter Kristiansen

Date Read: September 25, 2018

Genre: History

Acquired: Purchased from Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: A short history of Danish coronations, and, since the mid-nineteeth century, accession proclamations. The book includes full descriptions of Denmark’s royal regalia and crown jewels. There are colourful illustrations that emphasize the intricate details of these pieces. The Danish royal regalia is on permanent display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen and is now rarely used at official events except for the state funerals of monarchs. The Crown Jewels are worn by Queen Margarete II on certain official occasions including royal weddings and the annual New Year’s banquet. There is one notable piece not discussed in the book. The collection at Rosenborg Castle includes the world’s oldest surviving Order of the Garter and while this piece is not strictly part of the crown jewels or royal regalia, it would have been an interesting item to photograph and describe for this volume. Power, Splendour, and Diamonds is a valuable overview of the Danish Regalia and Crown Jewels and a great souvenir of Rosenborg Castle.

Rosenborg. Pleasure Palace and Treasure Chamber#266 of 365 Rosenborg. Pleasure Palace and Treasure Chamber by Heidi Laura

Genre: History/Art

Date Read: September 26, 2018

Acquired: Purchased from Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 114 pages

Review: A beautifully illustrated guide to Rosenborg Castle. Visiting the castle can be an overwhelming experience as the royal apartments are filled with portraits and beautiful objects. The book places the rooms and their treasures within the context of Danish history from the reign of Christian IV to the development of Denmark’s constitution. The illustrations include details that visitors to the museum are likely to overlook including hidden speaking tubes in the walls for the royal residents to order food and drink from the palace kitchens. The decorative objects provide examples of changing trends in art patronage and collecting during the centuries that the Rosenborg was a working royal residence.  The provenance of key works of art in the Castle and the careers of little known court artists and intellectuals are well explained in the guidebook but I would have liked to have read a little more information about certain royal portraits and sculptures in the rooms. A fascinating and informative read.

My review of Crowns and Colonies (eds. Aldrich and McCreery) in the Royal Studies Journal

My review of Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empires, edited by Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery has been published in the December 2017 issue of the Royal Studies Journal.

The Royal Studies Journal is available online. Click here to read Aldrich & McCreery (eds.), Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empires (Manchester University Press, 2016), reviewed by 

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone

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

My new article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone, Governor General of Canada from 1940 to 1946.

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.

Click here to read my article about Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Marquess of Lorne

John Campbell, , Marquess of Lorne

My latest article in the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia is about the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

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.

Click here to read my article on John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Marquess of Lorne in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

I have also written articles about the Marquess of Lorne’s wife, Princess Louise and mother-in-law, Queen Victoria in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

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

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

My article about Prince Rupert of the Rhine and Rupert’s Land in Canada’s History Magazine is now online

Prince Rupert Canada's history 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.

Map of Prince Rupert's travels as Commander of the Royalist Fleet

Map of Prince Rupert’s travels as Commander of the Royalist Fleet

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.”

Click here to read “Canada’s Warrior Prince” on the Canada’s History Magazine Website.

Upcoming Guest Lectures in 2016

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 2, 2016, Magna Carta and the Making of the Modern World, Aurora Cultural Centre, Aurora.

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 

December 1-19, 2016: 6 Lectures about Royalty and the Atlantic World Aboard the Azamara Quest during the Costa Rica, Panama Canal and ABCs cruise

 Click here to view a selection of lectures about my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights.