Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Death of Andrzej Ciechanowiecki, celebrated philanthropist, art collector & historian and anti-communist / WWII resistance figure.

Deeply saddened to learn of the death in London yesterday of my friend, and (in my youth) my great mentor in matters nobiliary and chivalric, the celebrated philanthropist, anti-communist agitator, art historian and collector, Andrzej (Andrew) Ciechanowiecki (1924-2015), Knight of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland's highest honour, the equivalent of the Order of the Garter) and Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. [Andrew held more Orders than almost anyone I knew]

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Andrew spent several weeks living with my grandparents (he and his parents were very old family friends). Having fought in the Underground Home Army in the Warsaw Uprising 1944 and escaping deportation to Siberia, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1952 by the Polish communist governement for allegedly assisting British, American and Vatican spies.

Released after 6 years, he eventually arrived in the UK and became an extremely successful art dealer, most notably co-owning the Heim Gallery on Jermyn Street. He remained a Londoner, spending his final years in a beautiful flat on Mount Street off Berkeley Square.

Andrew's collection grew so large (he had one of the finest collection of bronzes) that he founded the Ciechanoweicki Foundation at the Royal Castle in Warsaw to hold much of his collection. Andrew played a huge role in obtaining art and furniture to fill the palace following its post-war reconstruction. He also curated several important international exhibitions of Polish art and treasures, largely self-funded the construction of a church on the outskirts of Krakow and also helped fund a wing of the University of New Mexico.
Andrzej Ciechanowiecki (seated) with members of the Ciechanowiecki Foundation 
at home at his flat, with some of his celebrated bronzes visible behind.
Very active in anti-communist international relations, Andrew was a friend of Pope John Paul II and many heads of formerly reigning royal houses. He was also extremely active in dynastic and confraternal military-religious orders.

Andrew was one of the most decorated men I knew. Wikipedia lists the following Orders:

Order of the White Eagle (1998)
Order of Polonia Restituta Grand Cross (25 February 1993)

Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (Vatican)
Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour & Devotion, Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Grand Cross of Order Pro Merito Melitensi
Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Commander of the Order of the Polar Star (Sweden)
Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria.
Commander of the Order of Merit of Senegal
Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Order of Friendship of Peoples (Belarus)
Order of Francisc Skorina (Belarus)

Dynastic Orders
Grand Cross of the Order of St Januarius (Two Sicilies)
Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George with Collar (Two Sicilies)
Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I (Two Sicilies)
Gold Medal of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (Two Sicilies)
Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Savoy)
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the House of Savoy (Savoy)
Gold Medal of Merit of the House of Savoy (Savoy)
Knight of Justice of the Order of Saint Stephen (Tuscany)
Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Joseph (Tuscany)
Grand Cross of the Order of St Andrew (Imperial Russia)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (Imperial Russia)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Anna (Imperial Russia)

Bust of Andrzej Ciechanowiecki 

Honorary Doctorates:
University of Warsaw, Poland (1991)
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA (1992)
Belarusian State University, Minsk (1993)
Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland (2009)

In addition he was:

Honorary Professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Honorary Member or Life Member of many learned societies both foreign and Polish, FSA, member of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, member of the Board of the (Countess) Lanckoroński Foundation, Council Member of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation, the Counts Raczyński Foundation, and the Polish Historical & Literary Society in Paris (SHLP), chairman of the Polish-Belarusian Bilateral Commission for the Conservation of the National Patrimony.

However to his English friends, who could not pronounce his surname "Ciechanowiecki" he was simply "Chicken and Whisky".

The funeral will be at the Brompton Oratory.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Wartime Propaganda Posters that Promote British Patriotism

In the context of this week's Scottish independence referendum campaign, it is interesting to reflect on the strong unionist symbols used in wartime propaganda posters.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Scottish Referendum and The Queen's Speech -- Precedents

The front page of today's Daily Telegraph contains an article bearing the dramatic title "Scottish Independence: The Queen is Urged to Intervene". Following the release of a second opinion poll (this one by TNS) confirming that the shambolic Better Together campaign is indeed running neck and neck with the Yes Campaign, several panicked MPs are now urging the Prime Minister to request that The Queen intervene at this time of national crisis.

In support of their request, the MPs make reference to an earlier precedent: The Queen's Silver Jubilee speech of 1977 in which, in the context of the possibility of devolution and the damage it might cause to the Union, Her Majesty made what was perhaps her most political statement:

 "I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and of Northern Ireland. Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of the United Kingdom.

This brief statement was not a compromising political intervention but it enabled The Queen to speak in support of the Union, an issue that falls squarely within the fundamental interest of the Crown, and which it is the Crown's duty to protect. Importantly (and in stark contrast to any speech that might be delivered in the next few days) this carefully crafted speech, long in the planning, was not delivered in the run up to a highly charged political vote, but was presented at an appropriate time and place.

Unfortunately, The Queen's other comments relating to political affairs are not quoted in The Telegraph article, which is a shame. No British commentator or expert appears to be aware that The Queen, in her role as Queen of Canada, twice involved herself in an equally sensitive issue of national unity. In 1987 The Queen delivered two speeches in which she spoke about the Meech Lake Accord, a controversial accord designed to strengthen Quebec's position within the Canadian family. When the Accord was rejected in 1990, the future of a united Canada appeared uncertain and the possibility of Quebec separation seemed very real, as real as Scottish separation seems today.

The Queen arriving at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada, 1990
In the middle of this intense and very nasty political drama, The Queen made an official visit to her Canadian realm to participate in the huge Canada Day celebration that is held annually outside Ottawa's Houses of Parliament, and which is the focus of national attention. On the advice of her Canadian ministers The Queen delivered a moving, and perfectly pitched, speech to the tens of thousands of people who were assembled in front of Parliament; it was also broadcast live on television to millions of homes.

Her Majesty's words in Ottawa in 1990 could well be repeated today in Edinburgh:

"I am not just a fair-weather friend and I am glad to be here at this sensitive time. I hope my presence may call to mind those many years of shared experience and raise new hopes for the future. The unity of the Canadian people was the paramount issue in 1867 as it is today. There is no force except the force of will to keep Canadians together."

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

"Winston Is Back": 75th Anniversary of Churchill's Appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty

75 years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany and Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, a position he had held during the Great War. 

10 minutes after the Royal Navy received notification of the commencement of hostilities against Germany, the Admiralty sent a second telegram to the fleet. The telegram contained only three words, three words that Lord Mountbatten said had 'an electrifying effect throughout the fleet': "WINSTON IS BACK." 

This clip from "The Gathering Storm", with Albert Finney as Winston Churchill, captures the spirit of the occasion.

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man." In this period of immense geo-political instability some may have good reason to ask "Where is our Churchill?"

Friday, 6 June 2014

The New World steps forth to help the Old.

Seeing this image taken today in France of The Queen gallantly assisted by the President of the United States and the Governor General of New Zealand at the international ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, some words of Sir Winston Churchill immediately sprang to my mind:

"...the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old."

("We Shall Fight On the Beaches" speech to Parliament, June 4, 1940)

I shall refrain from commenting (as others already have) on the obvious symbolism of the Russian leader's isolation from the main group of western leaders.  

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Canada's Prince: The Canadian Associations of HRH The Prince of Wales

The Royal Canadian Homecoming of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall commenced on 18 May. On that day, the day before Victoria Day (The Official Birthday in Canada of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada), The Prince of Wales was appointed to The Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. HRH was sworn in as a Privy Councillor during a private audience with His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at Government House, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Prince of Wales's father, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, is the second-longest serving member of The Queen's Privy Council for Canada (appointed 1957).

The Privy Council advises the Government of Canada and includes all past and present Ministers, as well as a number of select persons honoured for their contributions to Canada.

HRH The Prince of Wales with HE The Governor General of Canada at Government House, Halifax, Nova Scotia
(C) The Government of Canada

Quick Canadian Facts about The Prince of Wales (some courtesy of the Canadian Prime Minister's Office):

The Prince of Wales has been visiting Canada for almost 45 years. He has visited Canada from coast to coast to coast.

This year’s Royal Tour is His Royal Highness’ 17th Tour of Canada. 

During this year’s Tour of Canada, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will join Canadians in marking milestones in the country’s history in the lead up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

The Prince of Wales is patron or president of more than 400 organizations around the world. 

HRH The Prince of Wales in the uniform of a Lieutenant General in the Canadian Army
HRH is a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Canadian Navy, a Lieutenant General in the Canadian Army and a Lieutenant General in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

HRH is Honorary Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Colonel-in-Chief of several regiments and the air reserve:
  • Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadian)
  • The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
  • The Royal Regiment of Canada
  • The Royal Canadian Dragoons
  • The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada
  • The Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Own)
  • The Air Reserve Group
HRH is an Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, holds the Canadian Forces Decoration and two clasps, as well as the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal.

HRH's patronages include Canadian organizations, such as The RCMP Foundation, The Willowbank School of Restoration Arts, The Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, The Regina Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, The Royal Conservatory of Music and Earth Rangers. 

HRH is responsible for the creation of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (the Canadian affiliate of the Prince’s Youth Business International), that helps disadvantaged young people become entrepreneurs. 

HRH is a strong proponent of the conservation of historical Canadian places including through the Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership that bears his name. 

HRH is also an honorary member of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and the Canadian Society of Painters in watercolour. 

Pre-Royal Tour Reception for UK-resident Canadians hosted by Prince of Wales & Duchess of Cornwall at St. James's Palace

On Wednesday 14 May, in preparation for the Royal Tour of Canada of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (commencing 18 May), a reception for Canadians working or living in the United Kingdom was hosted by The Prince and The Duchess in the State Apartments of St. James's Palace.

The weather, which in London can be very unpredictable, was warm, bright and sunny. This afforded guests the opportunity to visit the garden of St. James's Palace (which is shared with Clarence House).

TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall spent 1.5 hours meeting the (approximately) 100 Canadians who were present.

Photographs from the event may be seen HERE at the official Flickr site of The British Monarchy.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

8 May - VE Day 1945 -- The Royal Family and Winston Churchill

The Royal Family and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, VE Day 1945
Today, 8 May, is the anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day).

Last month British Pathe released into the public domain some 80,000 newsreel items from its extensive archives. A remarkable range of subjects are covered. Amongst the items is this footage of Winston Churchill rehearsing his VE Day speech. I believe this is the first time this footage has been seen in public. Well worth watching, particularly for his rousing finish: "Advance Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!:

Additionally, here is some rarely seen colour footage of the Royal Family and Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on VE Day. The Royal Family are extremely relaxed. Note the three different styles of royal waves -- none of which have survived to this day.  Churchill does not wave (it would have been deemed inappropriate). He is one of only two politicians to have been honoured to join the Royal Family on the balcony.

As part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of VE Day in 1995, a flag-waving crowd of hundreds of thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace, similar in size to that which had gathered in 1945. Legendary wartime singer Vera Lynn and other well-known figures were present to entertain the crowd. 

The doors to the Buckingham Palace balcony opened and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother walked out on to the balcony and stood alone for approximately one minute -- cheered by the adoring crowd. The Queen and Princess Margaret then walked out and stood either side of their mother. A moving recreation of the balcony scene from 1945 (only Churchill and George VI missing). 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

"Privilegio del Bianco" exercised by The Queen of Spain at the Canonisation of Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII

TM The King & Queen of Spain, TRH The Grand Duke & Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, TM King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium and HMEmH The Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta were amongst the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the canonsiation of Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII by HH The Pope. HRH The Duke of Gloucester represented HM The Queen.

Estimates vary, but some commentators believe up to 1 million people may have attended the divine liturgy and accompanying ceremony. Much of St. Peter's Square was awash with Polish flags, at times resembling the sails from a flotilla, as Poles paid tribute to their great national hero, Saint John Paul II.


L to R: HM King Albert of Belgium, HM The King of Spain, HM The Queen of Spain

As seen above, Queen Sofia exercised the "Privilegio del Bianco" (a.k.a. "Privilege du Blanc"), the privilege accorded to certain Catholic queens, princesses and duchesses to dress in white, with a white mantilla, for papal audiences and other special occasions. Queen Paola and The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg were similarly attired. The head of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household is likely to have decreed that this privilege would apply for this special occasion.

The privilege is not automatically granted to all Catholic queens or consorts. Historically it has been held by the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, the Queens of France, Spain, Bavaria, Naples, Italy and Belgium, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and princesses of the House of Savoy.

Most recently it was extended to Princess Charlene of Monaco -- she wore white during a papal audience with Pope Benedict in 2013. The privilege has not been extended to Liechtenstein.

It is worth noting that Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (who is a Catholic despite marrying into the protestant royal family) also does not have the Privilegio del Bianco -- but as she was born in Argentina perhaps Pope Francis may choose to make this another reform! 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BBC TV Interview -- Royal Tour of New Zealand: The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and the popularity of the Monarchy

I appeared on BBC News TV yesterday to discuss the success of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's tour of New Zealand and to examine and compare the popularity of the Monarchy in Australia and New Zealand.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Victory for the Monarchy at Cambridge Union Debate - 27 February 2014

On Thursday, 27th February I was pleased to participate in a lively debate at the Cambridge Union on the motion "This House Would Abolish The Monarchy".

Hugo Vickers, Rose Beal and I formed the Opposition and spoke in support of the Crown. I am happy to report that we successfully defeated the motion -- the vote was 105 against the motion (i.e. in support of the Monarchy) and 65 for the motion.

Founded in 1815, the Cambridge Union Society is the world's oldest operating debating society and the largest society at the University of Cambridge. The Union served as a model for the foundation of other university debating societies, including the Oxford Union and the Yale Political Union.

Chamber of the Cambridge Union (C) Cambridge Union Society

Full details of the debate and participants are included below:

This House Would Abolish The Monarchy

The announcement that Prince William is studying in Cambridge this term has prompted comment and outcry across the national and student media. The monarchy is Britain’s most iconic national institution, a central non-partisan plank of our constitution – according to some. For others, it is an outdated relic that impedes our democracy and entrenches elitism. In this debate, we put the arguments, and the modern monarchy, to the test.
Graham Smith is chief executive of the pressure group Republic, which calls for an elected head of state. Graham also writes for the Guardian.
Peter Kellow is Leader of the Democratic Republican Party, and writer for the Huffington Post. Peter believes there is a need for radical changes in UK politics.
Kate Maltby is a member of the executive team for Bright Blue, a pressure group for liberal conservatism. Kate writes for the Telegraph on politics and culture.
Hugo Vickers is known for writing royal biographies such as Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Hugo was appointed Chairman of the Jubilee Walkway Trust in 2002.
Rafe Heydel-Mankoo is a historian and royal commentator. He is the deputy editor of Burke's Peerage: World Orders of Knighthood, and a Research Associate at the public policy think tank, ResPublica.
Rose Beale is a finalist at Trinity studying management. Rose has been involved in Trinity Politics, the Wilberforce Society and Cambridge Development Initiative.
RESULT:  Proposition AYES: 65. Opposition NOES: 105

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Last Indian Member of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India - The Maharani of Travancore

HH Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1922-2013)
Maharaja of Travancore (1991-2013)

My letter to the editor of The Times following the publication of the obituary of 
HH Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of Travancore was published today. The Maharaja's brother had been the last ruling Maharaja of Travancore and, in that capacity, was the hereditary guardian to a temple containing an ancient horde of treasure valued at many billions of pounds. However as hereditary guardians, generations of maharajas of Travancore, remaining true to their faith, refused to sell a single item from this immense treasure.

The Imperial Order of the Crown of India
Dear Sir,

As a footnote to your obituary of HH Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of Travancore, it is worth noting that his aunt Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (1895-1985) was the last Indian member of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India.

Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi CI(1895-1985) 
Founded by Queen Victoria in 1878, the Imperial Order of the Crown of India was a "ladies' order" restricted to female members of the Royal Family and Indian princely families, as well as the families of senior British officials in India. Sri Uthradom's aunt was appointed to the Order in 1929 in recognition of her service as Maharani Regent of Travancore (1924-1931) during the minority of her nephew, Varma's brother, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (later Major General HH Sri Chithira Thirunal Sir Balarama Varma, GCSI, GCIE, the last ruling Maharaja of Travancore). Along with the insignia, members were entitled to bear the post-nominals "CI".    
HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon CI, GCVO
Wearing the insignia of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India
along with the Royal Family Orders and the Royal Victorian Chain
Following the deaths, in fairly short succession, of HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, the Imperial Order of the Crown of India now has only one surviving member: HM The Queen (who is also Sovereign of the Order). Through this membership The Queen provides one of the last direct connections to the British Raj. 

Lord Mountbatten once said of the Maharani of Travancore: "No one who met her once could ever forget her. She stands as a shining example to womanhood as a great queen and a great woman." I'd wager many would say the same of our own Queen.


Rafe Heydel-Mankoo

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Act of Reconciliation signed between the claimants to headship of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies

Yesterday, Friday, 24 January 2014, was a day of great importance for the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies, for the Illustrious Royal Order of St. Januarius/San Gennaro, for the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and for all their friends and supporters.

An Act of Reconciliation between both branches of the House was signed in Naples by HRH Don Pedro, Duke of Noto, son of HRH The Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria (head of the Spanish line), and HRH Don Carlo, Duke of Castro (head of the Neapolitan line). Let us hope that this will be but the first step towards greater cooperation and an enduring and harmonious rapprochement.

The two branches have come together in Naples for the Beatification of HM Queen Maria Cristina of the Two Sicilies (1812-1836), the first Queen consort of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, which takes place today at the Basilica of Santa Chiara, where HLM is buried.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Centenary of the Death of a Titan of the British Empire: Lord Strachcona and Mount Royal -- Candian imperialist, philanthropist, businessman (1820-1914)

The Rt. Hon. The Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal,
GCMG, GVCO, PC, DL (1820-1914)
Today, 21 January 2014, marks the centenary of the death of one of the towering figures of the British Empire: the great Canadian imperialist, philanthropist, businessman and politician, Donald Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, GCMG, GCVO, PC, DL.

Having achieved phenomenal success, wealth and power in Canada, Lord Strathcona spent his final years in London. Appropriately for a great architect of the British Empire, his funeral service was conducted at Westminster Abbey, where a commemorative stained glass window remains to this day.

Lord Strathcona's imposing mausoleum stands near the entrance to London's famed Highgate Cemetery.

Despite his extremely long, successful and varied career, Lord Strathcona is perhaps best remembered for driving "The Last Spike" into the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, the construction of which was essential for the creation of modern Canada and became a symbol of national unity. 

The photograph taken of Lord Strathcona on that occasion (shown below) remains one of the iconic images of Canadian history and is regarded as a symbol of national pride and achievement. 

Arguably Canada's most famous and historically significant photograph.
"The Last Spike": Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal drives the final spike into the Canadian Pacific Railway, 7 Nov. 1885.

Unlike the final spikes used to complete other railways, The Last Spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway was neither gold nor silver but was identical to the millions of other spikes that had been laid along the route.
Born in Scotland in 1820, Donald Smith emigrated to Lower Canada at the age of 18 to take up a position with the Hudson's Bay Company. He steadily rose through the ranks of the Company whilst simultaneously finding time to successfully stand for election: first to the Manitoba legislature and subsequently to the Canadian House of Commons, where he sat intermittently from 1871 through to the 1890s, staunchly defending the Hudson's Bay Company. Smith would eventually become a commissioner of the Company, its principal shareholder and, ultimately, its 26th Governor -- a position he held until his death. His 75 year record of service with the Hudson's Bay Company remains unequalled.

Plaque commemorating
"The Last Spike"
A silent, but substantial, partner in the syndicate that founded the Canadian Pacific Railway, Smith became a director of the company in 1883 and had the honour of driving the Last Spike into the transcontinental railway 5 years later. During this same period, Smith, who had earlier helped established the Bank of Manitoba, was appointed to the board of the Bank of Montreal (1872), subsequently becoming Vice President (1882) and President (1887).

In 1896 Smith declined the offer to succeed Canadian Prime Minister Sir Mackenzie Bowell and, instead, accepted appointment as Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. A month after his appointment he was elevated from Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (1886) to Grand Cross of the Order (GCMG) in The Queen's Birthday Honours List. A year later he was created Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Glencoe in the County of Argyll and of Mount Royal in the Province of Quebec and Dominion of Canada.

Continuing his business interests, Smith helped to establish the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (the forerunner of British Petroleum / BP) and would become its chairman in 1909.

During his service as High Commissioner in London, Lord Strathcona raised a private unit of Canadian soldiers to fight in the Second Boer War. One of the last private regiments to be established during the British Empire, the Strathcona Horse was recruited and equipped at Lord Strathcona's expense.

Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadian) in ceremonial uniform today

According to tradition, the famous "Strathcona Boots" worn in dress uniform by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were adopted by the Mounties after they served with the Strathcona Horse during the Boer War. The famous stetsons worn by the Mounties were also allegedly inspired during this period, perhaps from the Strathcona Horse. Disbanded in 1901 and revived in 1909, with augmentations to its name, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) exists today as a regular armoured regiment of the Canadian Army with HRH The Prince of Wales as its Colonel-in-Chief.

In keeping with the spirit of the age, Lord Strathcona became one of the Empire's greatest philanthropists, using his wealth to support organisations in the UK, Canada and across the Empire. With his cousin and Canadian Pacific Railway partner Lord Mount Stephen, Lord Strathcona funded the construction of Montreal's famous Royal Victoria Hospital. Established in 1893 "to be for the use of the sick and ailing without distinction of race or creed", the "Royal Vic" was the most advanced and best equipped hospital in North America. The hospital exists to this day and is closely affiliated with that other great Montreal institution, McGill University. A major benefactor to McGill, Lord Strathcona established a school for women there in 1884 and would become Chancellor of the University from 1888 until his death.

The stunning Imperial Institute. Nothing remains of the original building save for the
tremendous tower. The rest of the buildilng was destroyed by architectural vandals to
redevelop the site for Imperial College
In Britain his philanthropy contributed to Aberdeen University, the Sheffield Scientific School and the Imperial Institute (later the Commonwealth Institute), the original site of which is now home to Imperial College in South Kensington. He also contributed generously, along with his cousin Lord Mount Stephen, to The Prince of Wales Hospital Fund (now The King's Fund). In 1908 King Edward VII (who regarded Lord Strathcona as a friend) appointed him a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).

The Lord Strathcona Medal,
the highest award that can be conferred on
a Canadian cadet.
The Medal bears the bust of Lord Strathcona
Through Lord Strathcona's generous endowment to the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and his desire to promote patriotism, the Lord Strathcona Medal was established as the highest award that can be bestowed upon a Canadian cadet. Today it continues to be conferred in recognition of outstanding performance in physical and military training.
Knebworth House, leased by Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal until his death

In England, Lord Strathcona lived at 53 Cadogan Square in London and leased Knebworth House until his death. In Scotland he owned Glencoe House and Colonsay House (having purchased the Inner Hebrides island of Colonsay in 1905, which remains in the possession of the family today). In Montreal Lord Strathcona lived at 1157 Dorchester Street in the famous Golden Square Mile.

Lord Strathcona's memory lives on through numerous portraits, memorials, streets, parks and municipalities in Canada.

In Britain his memory endures though the memorial stained glass window erected in Westminster Abbey (see below) and also at his imposing Mausoleum in London's celebrated Highgate Cemetery.

Westminster Abbey's Memorial Window to
Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal
Dedicated on Dominion Day, 1 July 1919
(five years after Lord Strathcona's funeral in the Abbey)
The window is inscribed:
"In Memory of Baron Strathcona & Mount Royal. B. 1820. A Great Canadian Imperialist and Philanthropist. D. 1914"

The window displays the armorial bearings of Canada, the Hudson's Bay Company, Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal, the University of McGill and the University of Aberdeen, as well as the shields of Quebec and Manitoba and the regimental badges of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) and the Liverpool Scottish (The King's)

Mausoleum of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal
in Highgate Cemetery, London.
Lord Strathcona's mausoleum is one of the most imposing in the historic cemetery
 and occupies a prime position by the entrance. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Royal Beards

Newspapers and websites are reporting that The Queen "intensely dislikes" facial hair and has "ordered" her grandson Prince Harry to shave the beard he acquired during his recent charity trek to the Antarctic. I would never presume to know the Sovereign's view on beards, but almost all the male members of her family have sported beards at some point:

When The Queen was born, her beloved grandfather, King George V, sported the most famous beard in the land:

HM King George V

During the Second World War, The Queen's future husband kept to naval traditions by cultivating an impressive beard:

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
Like father, like son:

HRH The Prince of Wales

Beards were all the rage in the 1970s:

HRH The Duke of York

And every generation of royal seems keen to try the look:

HRH The Duke of Cambridge

One wonders what the King of Beards is thinking today...

HRH Prince Michael of Kent

And if beards are a bit too much, there's always the moustache. In 1975 HRH The Prince of Wales shaved off the beard he had acquired during a naval tour of the Canadian Arctic but kept his moustache for his installation as Great Master of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath at Westminster Abbey: