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.