Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bienvenue Au Canada / Welcome To Canada

The world's most popular newlyweds landed in Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada this afternoon to tremendous excitement. They flew on a Canadian Forces jet - aren't they a striking young couple!

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Ottawa on Thursday at the start of a 12-day visit to North America. Royal wardrobe-watchers will note she is wearing a dress by London-based Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (L) and Catherine (R), Duchess of Cambridge, go through the reception line.
Pleased to meet you: A line of dignitaries waits to meet the Duchess of Cambridge as she steps on to the tarmac at a blustery Ottawa airport

Their first stop was near Parliament Hill at the National War Memorial for a wreathe-laying ceremony. 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen Harper for a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Cambridges, Mrs. Harper approaching the War Memorial

Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, place a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada,  June 30, 2011, the first stop on their nine-day tour of Canada, kicking off their first official foreign trip as husband and wife.

Prince William spoke at Rideau Hall, official residence of the Governor General, Her Majesty's representative in Canada, mentioning what Canada has meant to both his grandparents and parents. Something personally meaningful as I was on the Ottawa leg of the tour with the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983. It is an experience I shall never forget.

Diana, Princess of Wales, with then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on Parliament Hill.
Princess Diana with Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1983

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be in Ottawa the first three days of their Canadian tour when they depart for my beautiful home town, Montreal, Quebec. From Montreal, they will travel by ship down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City (the second most beautiful city in Canada). They leave there Sunday evening for Charlottesville, in Prince Edward Island, on the Atlantic coast, where they will be busy until later Monday afternoon when they travel north to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, for a complete change of scene. By Thursday, they will be in Calgary, Alberta.

On a less serious (but still fascinating)  note Catherine wore a dress by Montreal-born (of course) designer, Erdem Moralıoglu

For the full itinerary of the Royal Tour of Canada, look here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Glorious Day

Trooping the Colour is an annual event held to celebrate the Queen's official birthday which, by tradition, is celebrated on a Saturday in June.

"The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday on a Saturday in June.
Official celebrations to mark Sovereigns' birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer. King Edward VII, for example, was born on 9 November, but his official birthday was marked throughout his reign in May or June when there was a greater likelihood of good weather for the Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.
The Queen usually spends her actual birthday privately, but the occasion is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at midday: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. In 2006, Her Majesty celebrated her 80th Birthday in 2006 with a walkabout in the streets outside of Windsor Castle to meet well-wishers.
On her official birthday, Her Majesty is joined by other members of the Royal Family at the spectacular Trooping the Colour parade which moves between Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Horseguards’ Parade."

Escort: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are followed by Princess Anne and the Duke of Kent - she has taken a carriage to the ceremony since 1986

Birthday girl: Queen Elizabeth leaves Buckingham Palace in a carriage ahead of the parade, which she has done every year of her reign except 1955

Royal riders: Prince William, Prince Charles, the Duke of Kent and Princess Anne riding Queen's Escort
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince of Wales, Duke of Kent, and the Princess Royal

"Since 1748, this parade has also marked the Sovereign's official birthday. From the reign of Edward VII onwards, the Sovereign has taken the salute in person at Trooping the Colour.
During the ceremony, The Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops.
After the massed bands have performed a musical 'troop', the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks.
The Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry then march past Her Majesty, and The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, rank past.
The Queen rides in a carriage back to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards, before taking the salute at the Palace from a dais. The troops then return to barracks.
Her Majesty then joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.
The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour every year of her reign, except in 1955 when a national rail strike cancelled the event."

Centre of attention: The Queen returns to Buckingham Palace surrounded by the her family, soldiers and full band

As with many formal traditions, Trooping the Colour emerged from something practical - in this case, the need for foot soldiers to be able to visually identify the flags of their battalions as rallying points above the chaos of battle. 
"The aim of the ceremony was to familiarise each man with the coloured flags that identified his unit, and to guarantee all ranks would recognise their assembly point, especially when stationed in an unfamiliar town.Each morning, the colours were escorted from the billet back to their position in the battalion ranks. Consequently, the colours came to express the spirit of the regiment and were held in the highest regard.
In time the Regimental Colour has taken on a greater significance. Its folds of emboidered cloth are an important object of reverence and a memorial to lost comrades."

Of course, this year's Birthday Parade followed the day immediately after Prince Philip's 90th birthday and so must have been an especially momentous family event. Happy and glorious, indeed. God Save the Queen!

Birthday couple: The event celebrates the Queen's official birthday, while Prince Philip celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday

Read more from the official website of The British Monarchy here, from The Daily Mail here, and from British Military Ceremonial here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Queen's Leading Man

Buck's Fizz returns with a birthday tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and as of today, Lord High Admiral.

The Duke, is 90 years old today and among the celebrations there seems to be more than the usual well-timed attentions - articles, interviews, books. There seems to be a renewed groundswell of genuine respect and admiration for a man who has lived a life of duty and now epitomizes graceful aging.

Look of love: At the Royal Wedding all eyes were on the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh who met as children in the 1930s

"If William and Kate symbolise youth and love, then Prince Philip is an advertisement for growing old gracefully. Women have always been drawn to him, as the Queen was, and not just for his flirtatious nature but also for his wit, intelligence and alpha-male attitude to life."

He has had and continues to have an amazing life and despite criticisms should be underestimated at your own peril. He is a man of robust energy, intelligence, wit, and does not suffer fools - why on earth should he?

Someone once said to me, that real men are a handful, but worth it because they are strong, steady, and rare. Of the many things that have been said about HRH, there is more to admire than there is to criticize - best of all, in my opinion - aside from glorious health - is that he doesn't seem to be a man with any patience for nonsense. And he is a real man, still, at 90 years of age, with no sign of stopping. God bless the Duke of Edinburgh. Long life, good health, love, and joy on your birthday, and always.

Read more from the Daily Mail here and here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Day three of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland began with, I am sure, a highly anticipated visit to the National Stud at Kildare followed by a private visit to Coolmore - the world-renowned international thoroughbred racehorse stud in Tipperary.
Unflinching: While others instinctively took a step back from the horse as it reared up on its hind legs, the Queen was unfazed - most likely due to her familiarity with the animals
The Daily Mail has excellent coverage of the visit and I especially noticed one section in particular: 
The monarch's familiarity with horses was revealed at one point when a nervous thoroughbred reared up on its hind legs when paraded in front of its stables. Some of the entourage standing near her instinctively moved back but she did not flinch and the stallion was soon brought under control.

Oh no, she does not flinch, our beloved Monarch and I believe it is due to more than a knowledge of horses. At age 85, HM continues to demonstrate the exceptional poise and resolve that have, in part, defined her life and reign. She is one of the most remarkable people that has ever been and I am thrilled the State Visit to Ireland is going well both for her and for the Irish people. I hope and pray all continues as smoothly.

Meeting royalty: Emma Osbourne presents Queen Elizabeth II with a bouquet of flowers

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Favorite Royal Tiara

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II very appropriately wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara at the State Dinner in in Ireland this evening.

The tiara, also referred to as “Granny’s Tiara”, is one of Queen Elizabeth’s favourite pieces of jewelery. It was a wedding gift to Elizabeth by her devoted grandmother Queen Mary in 1947 along with a number of other pieces. However the tiara had originally been given to Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary) as a wedding present in 1893 by a committee started by Lady Eve Greville. The committee was established to raise money to purchase a wedding gift from the ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’. They collected over £5,000 and bought the diamond tiara from Garrard.
In the original form (1893) the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara was in a diamond festoon and scroll design with nine large upright pearls on diamond spikes. This was set on a diamond lozenge patterned bandeau base and in this configuration the tiara could also be worn as a necklace.
The tiara was altered in 1914 when Queen Mary choose to remove the upright pearls and replaced them with large diamonds. At this stage the bandeau base was also removed thus allowing her to use this as a headband following the styles of the 1920s. 
In 1947, Queen Mary gifted Princess Elizabeth the tiara in 2 separate pieces as a wedding present. (The tiara and bandeau displayed separately in 1947 at St James’s Palace). There are no reports or photographs of the Queen ever wearing the bandeau separately as a headband.
In 1969, the Queen decided to have the bandeau reattached to the tiara and this is how it remains today. Known to be incredibly light it has become the tiara most associated with the Queen. In the summer of 2007, Buckingham Palace put on a display of a selection of presents given to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 to mark their diamond wedding anniversary. The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was one of the highlights of the display. 

The Queen's Speech

The Queen gave a moving and very sensitive speech at a State Dinner in Dublin Castle, on day two of her historic and unprecedented visit to Ireland

Reconciliation: The Queen received a round of applause as she opened her speech by addressing her host, President Mary McAleese, and the other guests in Irish
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (wearing The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara) and Irish President, Mary McAleese 

A Uachtaráin agus a chairde (President and friends).
Prince Philip and I are delighted to be here, and to experience at first hand Ireland’s world-famous hospitality.
Together we have much to celebrate: the ties between our people, the shared values, and the economic, business and cultural links that make us so much more than just neighbours, that make us firm friends and equal partners.
Madam President, speaking here in Dublin Castle it is impossible to ignore the weight of history, as it was yesterday when you and I laid wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance.

For the large majority of Irish people the sight of the British sovereign laying a wreath was a profound and welcome shift in the bilateral narrative

Indeed, so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation. Of being able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it.
Of course, the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.

The bodies of nine British officers killed in Dublin five days earlier are taken back to England for burial on the destroyer 'HMS Seawolf'

These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families.

To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all. 

The Queen and Irish president Mary McAleese emerge from the tunnel with Gaelic Athletic Association president Christy Cooney

But it is also true that no-one who looked to the future over the past centuries could have imagined the strength of the bonds that are now in place between the governments and the people of our two nations, the spirit of partnership that we now enjoy, and the lasting rapport between us. No-one here this evening could doubt that heartfelt desire of our two nations.

Madam President, you have done a great deal to promote this understanding and reconciliation. You set out to build bridges. And I have seen at first hand your success in bringing together different communities and traditions on this island. You have also shed new light on the sacrifice of those who served in the First World War. Even as we jointly opened the Messines Peace Park in 1998, it was difficult to look ahead to the time when you and I would be standing together at Islandbridge as we were today.

That transformation is also evident in the establishment of a successful power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland. A knot of history that was painstakingly loosened by the British and Irish Governments together with the strength, vision and determination of the political parties in Northern Ireland.

What were once only hopes for the future have now come to pass; it is almost exactly 13 years since the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland and Northern Ireland voted in favour of the agreement signed on Good Friday 1998, paving the way for Northern Ireland to become the exciting and inspirational place that it is today. I applaud the work of all those involved in the peace process, and of all those who support and nurture peace, including members of the police, the Gardaí, and the other emergency services, and those who work in the communities, the churches and charitable bodies like Co-operation Ireland

Taken together, their work not only serves as a basis for reconciliation between our people and communities, but it gives hope to other peacemakers across the world that through sustained effort, peace can and will prevail.

For the world moves on quickly. The challenges of the past have been replaced by new economic challenges which will demand the same imagination and courage. The lessons from the peace process are clear; whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.
There are other stories written daily across these islands which do not find their voice in solemn pages of history books, or newspaper headlines, but which are at the heart of our shared narrative. Many British families have members who live in this country, as many Irish families have close relatives in the United Kingdom.
With the Irish tricolor at half mast and the wreaths laid, the Queen, Duke and Irish President pay their respects

These families share the two islands; they have visited each other and have come home to each other over the years. They are the ordinary people who yearned for the peace and understanding we now have between our two nations and between the communities within those two nations; a living testament to how much in common we have.

These ties of family, friendship and affection are our most precious resource. They are the lifeblood of the partnership across these islands, a golden thread that runs through all our joint successes so far, and all we will go on to achieve. They are a reminder that we have much to do together to build a future for all our grandchildren: the kind of future our grandparents could only dream of.

King George V with Queen Mary in Dublin

So we celebrate together the widespread spirit of goodwill and deep mutual understanding that has served to make the relationship more harmonious, close as good neighbours should always be.

For her part, addressing the Queen and other guests, President Mary McAleese said the visit was a culmination of the success of the peace process:

It is an acknowledgment that while we cannot change the past, we have chosen to change the future. The relationship between our two neighbouring nations is long, complex and has often been turbulent. Like the tides that surround each of us, we have shaped and altered each other. This evening we celebrate a new chapter in our relationship that may still be a work in progress, but happily, has also become a work of progress, of partnership and friendship.

Éirinn go Brách with a Perfect Pour

Day two of Her Majesty's historical trip to Ireland begins with a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, billed as Ireland's number one visitor attraction.

Looks tempting: Prince Philip eyes a pint of Guinness as he and the Queen tour the storehouse in Dublin

One of the highlights of the visit is a "windows tour" of Dublin from the Gravity Bar at the top of the Storehouse. I found video of what this view might be like for the Royal Visitors - no wonder the Storehouse is such a popular destination.

There's more about the Queen's visit to the Guinness Storehouse in the press release here.
Today, HM Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Guinness Store