Thursday 29 December 2011

Knights of Malta Christmas Concert with Rupert Everett / Polish Air Force tribute

Earlier this month, a special Christmas carol concert was held at the historic Church of St. Clement Danes (Central Church of the Royal Air Force) in The Strand, London. The concert was organised by the Polish Order of Malta Volunteers (UK) in support of the fundraising initiative to support the Knights of Malta's highly successful oncological clinic in Poznan, Poland. Each year the clinic's 60 volunteers diagnose and treat, at no charge, over 5,000 patients. Medical departments include oncology, radiology, cardiology and surgery.  
Rafe Heydel-Mankoo discussing the history of the Polish Air Force
and its contribution to the RAF's victory in the Battle of Britain

Rupert Everett
The guest readers at the evening were the award-winning actors Rupert Everett (My Best Friend's Wedding, Pygmalion etc.), Sophie Thompson (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Gosford Park, Eastenders, etc. and sister of Emma Thompson) and Phyllida Law (Peter's Friends, Dixon of Dock Green, Rumpole of the Bailey etc. and mother of Emma Thompson).

Sophie Thompson

Phyllida Law

The concert consisted of a selection of Polish and English carols sung by Britain's foremost Polish choir, the Ave Verum Choir, accompanied by a string quartet.

This historic church of St. Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, whose walls are scarred by the marks of shrapnel from the Blitz, provided the perfect setting in which to celebrate not only a Polish Christmas Night but also to mark the continued friendship between the British and Polish peoples. For St. Clement Danes also contains an important memorial to the Polish Air Force, including the badges of the 16 Polish squadrons that valiantly fought in the Battle of Britain and throughout the Second World War, and without whom victory might have been far from certain. During the Battle of Britain, the Polish 303 Squadron was the most successful Fighter Command unit in the Royal Air Force and one of its pilots was the most successful pilot in the entire Second World War.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh (later Lord) Dowding, whose statute stands outside the Church of St. Clement Danes, would later write: "Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squardrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of the Battle of Britain would have been the same."

Consequently, a special ceremony of commemoration was held during the concert. Colonel Andrzej Jeziorski, a former Second World War fighter pilot and past Chairman of the Polish Air Force Association, processed down the nave of the church with a young boy, representing British youth, to place a candle on the Polish Air Force Memorial, in tribute to the Poles valiant contribution to the fight for freedom. The memorial contains the same inscription as that inscribed upon the main Polish Air Force memorial which was unveiled in Northold in 1948: "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith."

Colonel Andrzej Jeziorski, former WWII fighter pilot and past Chairman of the Polish Air Force Association
processes to the Polish Air Force Memorial with Alex Meeson, representing British youth.

Polish Air Force Memorial at St. Clement Danes

Saturday 24 December 2011

70th Anniversary of Churchill's Christmas Speech at the White House

70 years ago today, on the 24 December 1941, less than three weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom stood shoulder-to-shoulder by the Christmas tree on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. Recognising that the future of Western Civilisation depended on the unity of the English Speaking Peoples and an alliance between the British Empire and the American Republic, Winston Churchill and Roosevelt combined their Christmas greetings with words of inspiration for the populations about to embark upon the long and arduous road to victory. To mark the anniversary I post the fully White House Christmas Tree ceremony below. Churchill's 5 minute speech commences at the 16 minute mark.

A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols, Christmas Eve, King's College Chapel, University of Cambridge

"A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve Service held in King's College Chapel at the University of Cambridge. The Festival was introduced in 1918 to become a more imaginative approach to worship." lt was firsat broadcast in 1928 and has since become a global tradition and is broadcast to millions of people around the world." I well recall listening to the serene sound from far and distant Canada.
"The service includes carols and readings from the Bible. The opening carol is always 'Once in Royal David's City'" Source:

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Baroness Trumpington demonstrates the Blitz spirit.

And in lighter news... It is well known that a gentleman should never refer to the age of a lady (or, indeed, "Lady") ... but perhaps some Lords need to be reminded of this strict rule of etiquette.

In this short video clip (which may be viewed by clicking on the image below) Baroness Trumpington, the last member of the House of Lords to have served in the Second World War (she was a code breaker at Bletchley Park), takes particular exception to former Cabinet minister Lord King's reference to her age -- resulting in Her Ladyship's uniquely British response.

Reflecting on the incident and her colourful gesture Baroness Trumpington said "to my horror [Lord King] suddenly said, more or less, even the people who worked in the last war are starting to look very, very old. I thought 'to hell with that'...I did actually raise two fingers and I tried to pretend my hand had slipped but it was going to be quite obvious that my hand had not slipped and I meant it."

The formidable Baroness Trumpington has a royal connection: she was a member of the Royal Household as a Baroness-in-Waiting and was appointed a DCVO in 2005.


Thursday 15 December 2011

All Hallows-by-the-Tower -- London's "Canadian Church"

[This post is written to mark the anniversary of the visit to All Hallows-by-the-Tower of HRH The Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) on 15 December 1923, following his tour of Canada.]

Founded by the Saxon Abbey at Barking in 675 (and long known as All Hallows Barking), All Hallows-by-the-Tower (so named for its proximity to The Tower of London), can rightly claim the status of "Canada's Church in London".

The Church of All Hallows-by-The-Tower, is one of London's least explored gems, with its extant roman foundations, atmospheric crypt, tiny underground chapels and historic associations -- from "hatch" (baptism of William Penn) to "match" (marriage of John Quincy Adams) to "dispatch" (burial of Archbishop William Laud). It was from the spire of All Hallows that the famous diarist Samuel Pepys briefly watched the Great Fire of London. Destroyed during the Blitz in 1940, All Hallows' restoration was due to tremendous assistance from Canada.

British Columbian wood was used in the construction of the spire of All Hallows, whilst the carillon of 18 bells was donated by J.W. McConnell of Montreal. The pews were donated by Canadian Pacific and the Province of Manitoba, whilst the Building Products Council of Montreal supplied the floor tiles.

The Lady Chapel of the Church, which is located at the north of the church, bears what is probably Britain's only stained glass reference to the University of Toronto. The window was erected by Canadian friends of Dr. Hugh Hornby Langton (1862-1953).

The window depicts Dr. Langton's arms along with the following inscription:

"Doctor Hugh Langton of Toronto University died 1953 a benefactor of Toc H 11 Toronto. His brother-in-law Major Edmund Street, D.S.O. was the first officer to enter Talbot House, Poperinghe, on 14th December 1915. His sword was brough back and laid up within this Chapel by HRH The Prince of Wales, on the 15th day of December 1923 after his Canadian Tour. This panel was given by Canadian Friends."

Dr. Langton, a graduate of the Unviersity of Toronto, was also its first full-time Registrar (1887-1892) and, upon retirement, became its librarian (1892-1923). A prolific author he also wrote a history of the "University of Toronto and its Colleges" and was the editor of the Chronicles of Canada and of the Review of Historical Publications Relating to Canada (which became the Canadian Historical Review)

I would encourage any Canadian visiting London to make the effort to visit this historic church, easily located approximately 90 seconds walk from Tower Hill underground station.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Death of His Eminence Cardinal Foley, Grand Master Emeritus of the Order of the Holy Sepluchre

H.E. Cardinal Foley as Grand Master of the Equestrian
Order of the Holy Sepulchre
It was announced today, December 11th, that His Eminence, Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Grand Master Emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Cardinal-Deacon of S. Sebastiano al Palatino and former President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has died aged 76 at the Villa St. Joseph in Darby (where he was born) outside Philadelphia, PA.

Cardinal Foley will be fondly remembered by Americans as the "voice" of the annual televised broadcast of the Midnight Mass from the Vatican, a role he performed for 25 years.

Elevated to the cardinalate in the 2007 consistory, Cardinal Foley was an archbishop for 27 years and a priest for 49 years -- H.E. would have celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his entry to the priesthood in 2012. Appointed a Knight with the Collar of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1991, Cardinal Foley was appointed Grand Master of the Order in 2007, retiring as Grand Master Emeritus in 2011.

Cardinal Foley was also a Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Northern Star (Sweden), a Grand Cross of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins (Chile) and a Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martin (Argentina).  R.I.P. -- Abiit ad Plures

The Heraldic Achievement of Cardinal Foley.
 His Eminence's arms, which are quartered with those of
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, are also resting upon
the Cross of the Order.

Britain & the EU threat - Margaret Thatcher relives Churchill's "Wilderness Years"

There are so many reasons to admire and respect Churchill, but, for me, his defining period was his "Wilderness Years", isolated from his party and the general public, increasingly unpopular and out-of-step on India and his willingness to back Edward VIII during the Abdication Crisis. Churchill was dismissed as yesterday's man. Yet it was at this time that he, almost uniquely, recognised that the greatest threat to European security was Nazi Germany. His speeches in the 1930s made for sober reading in the 1940s.

Churchill sprang immediately to mind when, today, I chanced upon some of the speeches delivered by Lady Thatcher (then Mrs. Thatcher) in the 1990s.  Listening to Thatcher denounce the European Union and its dream in 1992, 93 or 94, I couldn't help but reflect on the prophetic similarity with Churchill.  Like Churchill, Thatcher was disdainfully dismissed as an out-of-date confrontational reactionary. Twenty years later, her comments sound extremely prescient and entirely prophetic.

I post two such examples for your consideration, the first contains her inflammatory speech at The Hague in 1992 in which she spookily forecasts precisely what we are experiencing now: high unemployment and national resentment. 

In the second interview she attached the system of European diplomatic negoation (for which direct comparisons may be drawn to the negotiations that took place during the recent EU summit) and why they are wrong and she is right: 

80th Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, 1931

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, 1931, the Act of the United Kingdom Parliament that established legislative equality between the UK and all of the self-governing dominions within the British Empire. Although Canadians (1867), Australians (1788) and New Zealanders (1840) claim different years of foundation and choose to celebrate their national "Dominion/Canada Day", "Australia Day" and "Waitangi Day" birthdays on the anniversary of this foundation date (Canada - 1 July, enactment of the British North America Act, a.k.a. the Constitution Act, 1867; New Zealand - 6 February, signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; and Australia - 26 January, the proclamation of British sovereignty upon the landing of the British First Fleet in Sydney Cove) the more accurate "Independence Day" for these nations is today, 11th December (although it should be noted that, whilst the Statute automatically applied to Canada, South Africa and the Irish Free State, it had to be ratified separately by the parliaments of Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland).

As has been discussed previously on this blog, the Statute was also a landmark document in terms of the Succession to the throne, enshrining the principle of the unity of the Crown and outlining, through its (albeit unenforceable) preamble, the importance of cooperation and unanimity between the realms in order to successfully enact any changes to the succession. This principle was tested less than 5 years later, during the Abdication Crisis of King Edward VIII. Although the Statute's continuing relevance is greatly reduced (and in many cases non-existent), by granting full independence to the self-governing dominions it is arguably the most important piece of legislation of the twentieth century.

Alas, despite such fundamental importance, the anniversary of its enactment has always been a non-event -- this is regrettable, as its annual celebration could have provided yet another visible and unifying link between the Commonwealth realms.

Nevertheless, since 1965 Canada, that Most Loyal Realm (MLR), has flown the Royal Union Flag (which remains an official flag of Canada to be flown on specific dates throughout the year -- where physical arrangements allow, i.e., there is a second flag pole) on 11th December in commemoration of the signing of the Statute of Westminster.  The Union Flag has been an official flag of Canada since 1904, indeed, it was the Union Flag and not the Red Ensign that was the official flag until the introduction of the Maple Leaf in 1965. The Royal Union Flag's current official status is as a symbol of membership in the Commonwealth and allegiance to the Crown, as decreed by the Canadian parliament on 18 December 1964.

Previous Canadian governments have treated this protocol requirement as something of an embarrassment and the date has often passed unmarked. I know many a staunch monarchist who has glumly reported various government buildings with unadorned second flag poles.

To its credit, and in keeping with its clear policy of celebrating Canadian heritage (including the Monarchy, etc.) the current Harper government has formally decreed that to mark the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Statute of Westminster, the Royal Union Flag WILL be flown from all public and government buildings today.

To quote:

Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster (1931)
In accordance with the rules for flying the Canadian flag and other flags in Canada, where physical arrangements* make it possible, the Royal Union Flag (known as the Union Jack) will be flown from sunrise to sunset on Government of Canada buildings and establishments across the country on Sunday, December 11, 2011, to mark the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster.
*"Physical arrangements" means the existence of at least two flag poles. The Canadian flag takes precedence and is not to be replaced by the Union Jack. Source:

Congratulations to the Government of Canada for recognising the significance of this anniversary and for ensuring that it is appropriately commemorated across the country. I encourage all interested Canadians to look at their public and government buildings today and see if they can spot the Royal Union Flag.

Saturday 5 November 2011

BBC Radio 4: Why I believe in Constitutional Monarchy interview

BBC Radio 4 today broadcast a light-hearted 10 minute interview with me in which the host and I discussed why I believe in constitutional monarchy, why I regard it is a superior form of government and why I was drawn to the subject. The discussion also briefly touched upon my own family background. The audio clip may be heard by clicking on the play symbol in the audio bar diectly below:

Sunday 23 October 2011

"Changing the Royal Succession and the Problem of the Realms" lecture

On 26 September 2011, the noted Australian constitutional expert, Prof. Anne Twomey of the University of Sydney, delivered an informal lecture entitled "Changing the Royal Succession and the Problem of the Realms", at the Constitution Unit, University College London.

The 45 minute talk (which may be viewed below) was an extremely useful introduction to the subject and succinctly summarises many of the key points. I recommend it to anyone interested in this complex topic. One of Prof. Twomey's conclusions was surprising -- it is her view that a major reason for British reluctance to tackle changing the order of succession is not fear of stoking republican sentiment in Australia or the Caribbean realms but, rather, fear of the Quebec legislature.

As is well-known, any change to the constitution that affects the position of the Crown requires the consent of each of Canada's 10 provincial legislatures. Monarchists believe that this constitutional entrenchment makes the Canadian monarchy the strongest in the Commonwealth. However, ironically, it now appears that this may also prove an unexpected impediment. Prof. Twomey believes that there is genuine fear that the Quebec legislature might decide not to approve anything that could be seen to strengthen the Monarchy.  On the other hand, one might hope that Roman Catholic Quebec would wish to support legislation intended to end anti-Catholic discrimination.

Of course, one might easily argue that the Canadian provinces do not need to be consulted on this matter as the change to the order of succession merely affects the identity of the person who occupies the "office" of Sovereign and does not alter the powers, position or character of the Crown -- and, therefore, these changes do not affect the Crown in the manner referred to in the constitution.  Furthermore, whereas the Australian states have a direct relationship with the Crown (State Governors are appointed by The Queen and not by the Governor General -- the Queen is as much Queen of New South Wales as she is Queen of Australia) the Canadian provinces do not -- the Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the Governor General not the Sovereign -- and therefore whilst the Australian states might well need to be consulted by the Australian Commonwealth, the federal government in Canada should not feel bound to consult the provinces.

Changing the Rules of Succession and the Problem of the Realms from Department of Political Science on Vimeo.

Sunday 10 July 2011

"William & Catheine Usher in New Informal Era for the Monarchy"

Royals’ informality puts ‘human face’ on monarchy 
From jeans to foosball, Will and Kate show they’re not so different

TORONTO — Picture the Queen wearing jeans. Or Prince Charles getting sprayed in the face while gamely paddling a dragon boat.
Can’t do it? No wonder. This royal tour has been like no other.

"It’s been the most informal royal tour in history," said Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, a royal commentator and historian. "It should be noted that the Royal Family isn’t quite as stuffy and formal as some people may think. The problem is we have an aging Royal Family and it’s been quite a long time since we’ve actually seen any young people visiting Canada."

William and Kate got their hands dirty making lobster souffle. William tried his hand at foosball, or tabletop soccer. They took a soaking in a dragon boat race, hiked in the Rockies, gamely donned Canadian Rangers hoodie sweatshirt and full western wear including cowboy hats and boots for the Calgary Stampede.

Princess Elizabeth & Prince Philip
Square Dancing in Ottawa, 1951
There have been some moments of informality on royal tours in the past. In fact, the Queen — when she was Princess Elizabeth — and Prince Philip in 1951 square danced at Rideau Hall, Heydel-Mankoo said. Philip wore jeans and a checked shirt, while the Queen wore a "country skirt" and plaid blouse.

In 1939 the Queen Mother and King George VI pioneered the royal walkabout, said royalty expert Carolyn Harris. In 1983 William’s mother Diana broke with protocol and bent down to talk to children, she added.

But no other royal tour before has embraced such a degree of informality throughout, which is a very deliberate attempt to keep the monarchy relevant for younger Canadians, Heydel-Mankoo said.
"The essence of this royal tour is essentially to refashion the monarchy into a 21st-century institution in order to reconnect on a deeply personal way with the next generation of Canadians," he said.
"We’re seeing a change in the whole structure of the British monarchy. The monarchy itself is becoming less formal, the monarchy that no longer is a stickler for protocol."

Hardly anyone seemed to bow or curtsy to the couple and they seemed to joke and laugh easily with the thousands of people who came out to see them. The couple fell behind the tightly regimented schedule most days as they tried to meet with as many Canadians as possible.

Throwing the staid royal tradition and rules out the window is a theme in William and Kate’s lives, so it makes sense that it would carry over to their first official tour, Harris said. In their private lives they are active and independent, doing household chores themselves, she said.

"A lot of the athletic events (of the tour), like the dragon boat racing or the street hockey, really demonstrate both of them are sporty people with a great love of the outdoors," said Harris, a PhD candidate at Queen’s University who specializes in royal history. "The Queen has dropped the puck ceremonially at an NHL game, but you could never imagine her actually picking up a stick and participating."

The past two royal tours to Canada — from the Queen and Prince Philip in 2010 and Prince Charles and Camilla in 2009 — had a much higher degree of formality. Those tours involved much more of the royals observing ceremonies rather than taking part in activities. Those tours also involved little public contact between the royal couple, which contrasts with the physical affection William and Kate showed each other on this tour.

"They’re trying to put a human face on the monarchy and by engaging with people and getting into a dragon boat and having a race, by trying to cook lobster they’re showing that they really aren’t that different from everybody else," Heydel-Mankoo said.

Friday 8 July 2011

Royal Tour Revives the Monarchy & Launches William and Catherine

An excellent article syndicated nationally by "The Canadian Press" on the success of the Royal Tour (I'm quoted a fair amount too).

Toronto— The Canadian Press
Published Friday, Jul. 08, 2011 6:07PM EDT

The unwritten agenda for Prince William and Kate's inaugural tour was every bit as onerous as the official nine-day itinerary, and royal observers say the couple's unspoken triumphs may be even more impressive than their obvious public success. 
Historians and commentators said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's cross-country travels were driven by three main goals — establish themselves as modern representatives of the monarchy, revive popularity for the institution and bring positive publicity to Canada.
In all three areas, they said, the newlyweds surpassed all expectations.
Royal commentator Rafal Heydel-Mankoo said from London that the couple's status as A-list celebrities was established from their first moments on Canadian soil.
Footage aired around the world showed the prince and his bride reacting with awe to the adoring throngs of fans who turned out to welcome them on the trip that was intended to usher them onto the world stage, he said. Tour organizers likely would have empathized with their surprise, he added.
The royal couple's procession through the streets of Ottawa on Canada Day provided enduring images of the tour's success, he said.
“Nobody thought they would get the rapturous reception that they received. It's exceeded all of their expectations,” Mr. Heydel-Mankoo said. “That's evident from the look on Prince William's face when he was blushing as a beet root when they were chanting, ‘Will and Kate! Will and Kate!“’
Mr. Heydel-Mankoo said a second key objective would have been to revitalize the image of the monarchy and strengthen Canada's ties with an institution that hasn't always been held in high esteem.
Carolyn Harris, a royal historian with Queen's University, agreed. The enthusiastic crowds that welcomed William and Kate in locales as diverse as the nation's capital, the heart of francophone culture and the land of the midnight sun speak to the couple's success in achieving that goal, she said.
“There have been concerns about Canada's ongoing relationship with the constitutional monarchy,” she said. “The degree of popularity that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoy really shows that the institution really has a popular and viable future in Canada.”
Catherine Ellis, a professor of British history at Ryerson University, said the royal couple went to great lengths to show a more modern face of the monarchy.
While she questioned how long the afterglow of the visit would be able to sustain renewed interest in the monarchy, she said William and Kate undoubtedly succeeded in refreshing the image of rigid royal tours of yore.
“The focus has been on the couple's success — their willingness to meet ordinary people, to change their itinerary, to arrive late, to create a less formal, more approachable image for the royal family,” she said. “It certainly hasn't damaged relations with the monarchy at all.”
Canada's global image was entrusted to the royal newlyweds as they worked their way from coast to coast with a massive cadre of foreign media in tow.
Mr. Heydel-Mankoo said scenes of Canada's diverse geographical and cultural attractions, coupled with uplifting images of its residents interacting with the royal couple, represent the best sort of publicity.
“Ignorance about Canadian cities and institutions and geography is abysmal in parts of Europe, so this has been a week-long video for the Canadian tourist board,” he said.
Ellis questioned whether the largely stereotypical images of Mounties in Ottawa, hockey games in Yellowknife and cowboys at the Calgary Stampede would satisfy Canadians who may wish to project a less colonial image to their royal visitors and their global observers.
“I don't know that they've seen a particularly modern face of Canada. They've seen popular images of Canada,” she said. “If it was intended to portray Canada in that light to encourage tourism, it certainly might have worked. But as far as the image to the world, it may not be the image that Canadians want to be top of mind.”
Ms. Harris said such conventional scenes were offset by visits to a Calgary research lab, as well as the more informal sporting events — such as dragon boating in Prince Edward Island — undertaken by the royals.
The organizers' balanced approach to tradition and modernity was reflected in the tour itinerary as well as the way in which the royals engaged with the Canadians they met, she said.
The couple themselves appeared to enjoy the trip, a fact confirmed Thursday in Calgary during William's final speech.
“In 1939, my great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, said of her first Tour of Canada with her husband, King George VI: ‘Canada made us'. Catherine and I now know very well what she meant,” he said while sporting jeans and a white cowboy hat.
“Canada has far surpassed all that we were promised. Our promise to Canada is that we shall return.”
Mr. Heydel-Mankoo said the royal couple's evident enjoyment of the visit was the crowning glory on a trip that satisfied all but the most staunch opponents of the monarchy.
“The only people who are going to be upset about this tour are republicans, who must be fuming,” he said.

Thursday 7 July 2011

London - The Defiant City

On this anniversary of the horrific London bombings of 7/7 2005 I post, in tribute, some inspirational passages from the speeches made by Sir Winston Churchill during the height of the Blitz, when London was a blaze and much of the city in ruins. We defeated that foe but we must now stand firm against our current enemies, whose methods are different but whose aim is the same. Churchill's words are as applicable today as they were 70 years ago:  "London Can Take It!"

Sir Winston Churchill on London:

"London is so is like a pre-historic monster into whose armoured hide showers of arrows may be shot in vain." (During the Blitz)

"We shall defend every village, every town and every city. The vast mass of London itself, fought street by street, could easily devour an entire hostile army; and we would rather see London laid in ruins and ashes than that it should be tamely and abjectly enslaved." 14 July 1940

" These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of London are, of course, a part of Hitler’s invasion plans. He hopes, by killing large numbers of civilians, and women and children, that he will terrorise and cow the people of this mighty imperial city... Little does he know the spirit of the British nation, or the tough fibre of the Londoners, whose forbears played a leading part in the establishment of Parliamentary institutions and who have been bred to value freedom far above their lives. 
"This wicked man, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatred, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shame, has now resolved to try to break our famous island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction.
"What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts, here and all over the world, which will glow long after all traces of the conflagration he has caused in London have been removed. He has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burnt out of Europe, and until the Old World—and the New—can join hands to rebuild the temples of man’s freedom and man’s honour, upon foundations which will not soon or easily be overthrown.
"This is a time for everyone to stand together, and hold firm, as they are doing ... All the world that is still free marvels at the composure and fortitude with which the citizens of London are facing and surmounting the great ordeal to which they are subjected, the end of which or the severity of which cannot yet be foreseen.
"Our fighting Forces ...  know that they have behind them a people who will not flinch or weary of the struggle—hard and protracted though it will be; but that we shall rather draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival, and of a victory won not only for ourselves but for all; a victory on not only for our own time, but for the long and better days that are to come." 11 September 1940

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Royals revive love affair with monarchy: experts

I was interviewed in the following article syndicated by the Canadian Press, Wednesday, July 6th 2011

Royals revive love affair with monarchy: experts

TORONTO It had barely begun before royal observers were declaring Prince William and Kate’s inaugural tour an unqualified success. Now that it’s half over, they’re calling it the spark that’s rekindling Canada’s love affair with the monarchy.
Nearly every aspect of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s travels through the country has been broadcast around the world, from their rapturous reception at public events to their more candid moments during unscripted walkabouts.
The tour has dominated newscasts across the United Kingdom, a marked departure from previous royal visits, which “are lucky to get 30 seconds on the evening news,” said royal observer and historian Rafal Heydel-Mankoo.
Praise for the modern royal couple and the warm reception they’ve received from Canada has been universal, and the hands-on approach of the newlyweds has played a key role in the tour’s success, Heydel-Mankoo said from London.
“It’s an injection of youth and vitality, and in this royal tour particularly, you’re seeing a very real face of monarchy,” he said.
“You’re seeing a couple who are down to earth, who can relate to the common people, and that’s being reciprocated. The ability to forge that new connection is what’s going to make the monarchy more relevant to 21st century Canadians.”
That may even include those who have traditionally given the cold shoulder to the Royal Family.
Previous royal stops in Quebec have been greeted with everything from indifference to open hostility, but William and Kate’s recent visits to Montreal and Quebec City suggest the tide is turning, Heydel-Mankoo said. Anti-monarchist protesters were significantly outnumbered by well-wishers offering flowers and friendly greetings.
“It was very brave, I think, to have the duke and duchess go to Montreal and Quebec on their first visit,” he said.
“The fact that they had such a positive and warm reception really shows how the monarchy has managed to evolve and adapt itself into something which is acceptable, even to a large portion of the country, which before would have been completely ambivalent.”
Younger Canadians, another demographic that has historically been slow to embrace royal visitors, also seem to have been won over by William and Kate, said Matthew Rowe of the Monarchist League of Canada.
At Tuesday’s stop in Yellowknife, a 20-year-old man turned up at 4 a.m. to be the first to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. In the old days, polls suggested he and his contemporaries would have been decidedly less enthusiastic.
An unconventional itinerary that has included dragon boat races, beachside barbecues and even the spectacle of William flying a helicopter have helped to boost the royal couple’s popularity among young people, said Rowe.
“This isn’t your grandma’s royal visit,” he said. “It’s not ship christenings and ribbon cuttings. They’re doing really fun and interesting activities.”
The success of the tour hinges on a handful of subtle but innovative changes that have helped make the prince and his wife more accessible to Canadians, said royal tour historian Garry Toffoli.
Walkabouts are a long-standing tradition dating back to William’s great-grandmother, but the newlyweds have put their own spin on it by holding longer, more substantive conversations with the people they meet, he said.
The same holds true of their more scripted encounters, giving the impression that the royal couple sincerely wants to engage with Canadians.
The tour has also maintained a fine balance between time-honoured traditions and modern demands, he said, citing events like William getting behind the controls of a Sea King chopper and practising an emergency landing procedure.
“Doing military training isn’t new; doing it publicly in a royal tour was,” Rowe said. “That was, I think, the genius of this tour and the organizers.”
Historians agree, however, that the scheduling innovations only enhance the natural star quality of the royal couple themselves, who are the main reasons the tour has been a success.
Heydel-Mankoo called William and Kate a “wonderful double act” who have eclipsed all expectations of how they would fare on the international stage.
Rowe said the couple’s philanthropic efforts and commitment to being responsible public figures play as much a part in their popularity as their more obvious glamour and celebrity appeal.
“We love the razzle-dazzle, we love the fairy tale, that’s part of monarchy. You can’t get rid of that, that’s part of its charm,” he said.
“But I think it’s the deeper message, the idea of service, that really appeals to this generation, who is much more interested in the difference they’re making as opposed to just material rewards.”
The Canadian Press - Link to original article

Monday 4 July 2011

The Uncrowned Emperor -- Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011). RIP

Abiit ad maiores -- His Imperial and Royal Highness Crown Prince Otto of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece (Austria), titular Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia (20 Nov 1912 - 4 July 2011). R.I.P.

Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate 60 years as Head of the Royal House of Windsor next year. HIRH Crown Prince Otto was Head of the Austrian Royal & Imperial House of Habsburg for an almost unbelievable 89 years.

HIRH Crown Prince Otto with his parents Their Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesties Blessed Karl I & IV and Zita, the last Emperor and Empress of Austria

Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius Habsburg-Lothringen was the son of His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty Blessed Karl I & IV, Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavnoia and Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria, King of Jerusalem, Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Krakow, Duke of Lorraine and of Salzburg, of Styria, of Carinthia, of Carniola and of the Bukovina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastall, of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zara; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca, Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro and in the Windic March; Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia by his consort Her Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty Empress Zita (nee Bourbon-Parma) of Austria, Apostlic Queen of Hungary and Queen of Bohemia. 

HIRH Otto at his family home Schonbrunn in Vienna
HIRH was Grand Master of the Most Illustrious Order of the Golden Fleece (Austria)

Amongst his numerous honours he was a:

Knight of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
Knight of the Royal Order of San Gennaro
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Vicosa
Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Grergory the Great with Star
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Recipient of the Order of Merit of Bavaria
Order of St. Stephen of Hungary
Recipient of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Hubert of Bavaria
Grand Cross of the Order of the Golden Lion of the House of Nassau (Luxembourg)
Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Dmitar Zvonimir (Croatia)
Order of the Cross of Terra Marian (Estonia)
Grand Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
Commander of the Legion of Honour of France
Grand Cross of St. Agatha of San Marino
Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Stars of Latvia
Honorary Knight of the Teutonic Order

Friday 1 July 2011

Ottawa - Canada's Royal Capital

By virtue of its status as the national capital, Ottawa can lay claim to more royal connections than any other Canadian city. Indeed, Ottawa (originally named Bytown, after Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers) was chosen to be Canada's capital city by none other than the Queen-Empress Victoria herself (the great decision is commemorated in Ottawa's coat of arms by the inclusion of a representation of St. Edward's Crown). 

Yesterday the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge laid wreaths at Canada's National War Memorial. Did you know that every member of the Royal Family always lays a wreath at the memorial when they are in Ottawa? 

The memorial was unveiled by Prince William's great-grandparents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) in May 1939 to honour the fallen of the First World War -- no one knew that the Second World War would start just over 3 months later. The unveiling of the National War Memorial was also the occasion of the first ever Royal Walkabout. Queen Elizabeth, having heard Scottish voices in the crowd, broke with protocol and walked over to the adoring spectators to converse. And so Ottawa can claim to be the birthplace of one of the greatest of royal traditions. 

When Prince William attends the Canada Day celebrations later today on Parliament Hill (which, coincidentally, will also be the 50th anniversary of his mother's birth) he will be sitting on a stage in front of the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, the original cornerstone of which was laid by his g-g-g-grandfather, King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales, and after whom the major thoroughfare of King Edward Avenue is named). To his far right will be a statue of his g-g-g-g-grandmother Queen Victoria and to his far left will be a statue of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II (upon her favourite horse, Centennial, a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). 

Were HRH to venture into the Centre Block he would find another statue of Queen Victoria (as a young queen) in the library as well as a brand new "Diamond Jubilee" stained glass window honouring both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II and a carved corbel also honouring his grandmother. Outside the entrance to the Senate (with its royal thrones, which have been occupied by his grandparents and great-grandparents) HRH would find portraits of all of the Canadian Monarchs since Confederation and in the nearby Francophonie room are portraits of all of the French Monarchs of Canada -- to whom HRH can also lay claim to some relationship (however distant).

Tonight and tomorrow night Prince William will be sleeping at Canada's Government House (Rideau Hall). There too he will find paintings of his grandparents and great-grandparents and a stained glass window honouring his grandmother. HRH will be sleeping in a building in which a great many of his ancestors and relations have also slept, dined and partied. Aside from all of his immediate family (parents, aunts, uncles, grand-parents) we can also mention his great-grandfather King George VI, his great-grand-uncle King Edward VIII and his great-great-grandfather King George V, along with various other great-aunts and great-uncles too numerous to mention.

Ottawa, a city of gothic towers once known as "Westminster in the Wilderness", is a city with a proud royal heritage. Indeed, although a small city by global standards (1 million metro), Ottawa's traditions make it arguably the city most similar, or perhaps familiar, to ceremonial London and, therefore, a city which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could regard as a home away from home.The Canadian Grenadier Guards and the Governor General's Foot Guards mount ceremonial duties in Ottawa, including the Changing of the Guard. Wearing their bearskins and red tunics, these guards might easily be mistaken for the guards who perform the same function for the Sovereign in London. The House of Commons and the Senate are modelled almost exactly on the British House of Commons and House of Lords, and the architecture, traditions and ceremonies are clearly adapted from the Mother of Parliaments. 

"Royal" is a designation that may only be granted with the permission of the Sovereign. Ottawa is home to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Royal Ottawa Hospital, the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada and the Royal Ottawa Golf Club to name a few.

Ottawa is a dynamic and youthful city, which can lay claim to the second highest quality of life in North America. Yet it is also a city steeped in tradition and history. The city and the royal couple would seem to make a perfect fit.

Thursday 30 June 2011

Canada's Royal Anthem - God Save the Queen (with special Canadian verse)

As Canadians eagerly await the arrival of their future King and Queen (The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge), the time is perhaps appropriate to explain some Royal Canadian symbols. Over the coming days I shall endeavour to delve into Canada's rich royal history and share some (hopefully interesting) Royal Canadian facts. I hope, particularly, that these short postings will help foreign media outlets avoid making the all too easy mistake of confusing British & Canadian symbols.

For example, God Save the Queen will be heard several times during the Canadian travels of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but did you know that it will be played not as the British National Anthem but, rather, as Canada's Royal Anthem? 

Furthermore, did you know that there is a uniquely Canadian verse to God Save the Queen -- and a French verse too? 

It is a little known fact that, whilst undoubtedly British, God Save the Queen has no official status in the United Kingdom -- amazingly it has never been formally recognised by the British Parliament (it is also interesting to note that the tune is also used for the national anthem of Liechtenstein and the American patriotic song "My Country 'Tis of Thee" -- and was also once the melody for the Swiss national anthem). 

By contrast, in 1967 a Special Joint Committee of the Canadian Senate and House of Commons declared that the Canadian Parliament should recognise God Save the Queen as Canada's Royal Anthem (O Canada being declared Canada's official national anthem in 1980). God Save the Queen had been sung in Canada since the 1700s and, along with O Canada, was held to be one of Canada's two national anthems, English Canadians preferring the former (along with The Maple Leaf Forever) and French Canadians usually opting for the latter. 

Canada continues to have both a Royal Anthem and a National Anthem. As the Royal Anthem, God Save the Queen is played in the presence of the Sovereign and other members of the Royal Family. It is also played at important national ceremonies and events, such as Remembrance Day services.

Click this video to hear Canada's Royal Anthem & National Anthem:

Contrary to popular belief, God Save the Queen does not have any set number of verses (in either Canada or the United Kingdom). However, Canadians can be justifiably proud to have a uniquely Canadian verse which is not sung anywhere else (although in modern times it is seldom sung at all):

Our loved Dominion bless
With peace and happiness
From shore to shore;
And let our Empire be
United, loyal, free,
True to herself and Thee
For evermore

Of course, Canada is also a bilingual country. French Canadians have a proud monarchical heritage and over the generations French Canadians have proudly and fiercely demonstrated their loyalty to the Crown (Father of Confederation Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Bt., PC, former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier GCMG, PC, KC and former Governor General Major General Georges Vanier PC, DSO, MC, CD to name but three). It is therefore quite right that Canada's Royal Anthem should also contain a French verse (essentially a translation of the first verse):

Dieu protege la reine
De sa main souveraine!
Vive la reine!
Qu'un regne glorieux,
Long et victorieux
Rende son peuple heureux
Vive la Reine!

As the representative of the Sovereign, Canada's Governor General also gets some "royal" treatment -- but as the G.G. is not the Head of State but merely the representative of the Head of State, he/she receives the Canadian Vice Regal Salute, which comprises the first six bars of God Save the Queen immediately followed by the first four and last four bars of O Canada.

Therefore, when you hear God Save the Queen played during this Royal Canadian Homecoming of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge please remember it is not played to honour British visitors -- it is played to honour Canada's future King & Queen.

Click on this video to hear Canada's Vice-Regal Salute: