Buckingham Palace announced The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will cut their summer break short in Balmoral to spend time at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk starting on Monday. A palace spokesperson said in a statement: “Subject to the finalisation of the autumn programme, Her Majesty’s intention is to return to Windsor Castle in…Wood Farm: The Royal Family’s secret home at Sandringham — Royal Central
I am putting myself forward to be chosen as the next Governor General of Canada. I am open to the job in the natural progression of such things, but can be on call to finish off a term if – well – the need arises.
I am a sturdy Maritimer (I think this part of the country could use the boost); have travelled nearly across this fair land; am a successful artist; and am descended from United Empire Loyalists. I will be more than proud to represent our Monarch.
I also have a stellar idea of how to raise funds for this great country, even in these times of COVID-19 disruption.
I propose to turn Rideau Hall, official residence of the Monarch, into an AirBnB. I’ll be more than happy to live in Rideau Cottage, or even 7 Rideau Gate. I generally live small.
Rideau Hall has 175 rooms and sits on 88 acres. It can easily pass as a Gated Community – with guards. It is set back from the hustle and bustle of the city. Unwanted visitors are removed.
Though it could indeed be party central for the insanely rich, I think more in terms of renovating the interior into a number (admittedly, a large number) of rooms and apartments, suitable for a vast array of the world’s population.
Also, the way things are going, well-done – though admittedly hasty – renovations could turn the building into a grand place for staycations. Proud Canadians from sea to sea to sea can come (eventually) to stay in the nation’s capital. There might be a shuttle service for residents to go to the Byward Market to stock up on provisions.
I throw open this proposal even if I do not attain the high position I desire. It will be a gift to my fellow citizens.
But I think I would look right nifty in uniform
I hope that Her Majesty was both entertained and … er … amused.
The Queen has been portrayed in TV shows and films over the years by an array of actresses. Whether they have played her on the small screen, in blockbuster films or voiced animated versions of her, there have been some iconic portrayals. Phoebe Barton takes a look back at some of the most well-known, unforgettable and…
In my novels where HM The Queen occasionally appears, one of those instances is after her own mother’s death at 101 years. Here is a meeting between my protagonist, ST, facilitated by the Royal Steward, Howard.
As it is the most of formal protocol days ST must accept that Howard is first and foremost a Steward of the Queen. He will be guided, he will be ushered, he will be tended to with the utmost of discretion.
“A sad occasion, Howard.”
“Leavened a touch this time around, Sir.”
This is Howard’s way of informing him that all – more or less – is as it should be.
“Please convey to Her Majesty my deepest condolences.”
“You may do so yourself, Sir.” Howard indicates for another member of the staff to continue greeting the flow of arriving vehicles. “If you’ll follow me.”
This is unexpected. ST had been surprized enough to be invited back to what he assumed would be a somber buffet in one of the State reception rooms. There would be small talk and a hurried atmosphere as most of the Royal family would soon be on their way to the internment at Windsor Castle.
“Whose idea is this?” ST asks the question to Howard’s retreating back as he follows the other man along the front of the palace.
“Whilst on duty, Sir, I have no ideas of my own.”
They enter a section of the palace unknown by ST. They come to a door that Howard has to unlock. He uses no swipe card nor keypad but a substantial metal key upon an equally impressive key ring. When they are through the door Howard locks it behind them.
The corridor is far shorter than the length they have just walked. ST guesses they are near the back lawns and gardens. He wonders if he is going to be taken to the pond he stood beside so many years ago, and if he will have the chance to skip stones again. However, in less than a minute, Howard turns sharply along an unexpected hallway and shortly stops in front of a set of double doors.
“Our destination, Sir.”
ST makes a quick appraisal of his person, tugging a coat tail and smoothing his hair. He questions the steward with a glance and Howard nods his head before he knocks on the door. ST can’t tell if Howard actually hears a response or if there is a designated seven seconds before he swings the doors open.
“Come in, Howard.”
ST notes that Howard unusually precedes him into the room instead of standing aside and then following. He is also surprized that when he himself enters the room Howard does not close the door behind him.
“Thank you for attending.”
“Your mother made a profound passage through Time. You’re welcome.”
The Queen is mid-room, standing beside an ornate floor lamp. The room is not a large audience chamber but a smaller sitting room or den. There are comfortable chairs and books on shelves and a writing table. In one corner is a television and a discreet bar.
“Yes, she did.” The Queen finally approaches ST with hand outstretched. “She put every year to use.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” ST takes the Queen’s hand, ungloved and barely adorned, and shakes it gently. He looks her in the eye as she does to him and finds a calmness he did not expect.
“Come to the window.”
He follows her across the room and notes that Howard, although unbidden, does the same. They stand in a line before the broad panes of glass.
“My mother did not often reside in this palace as she believed it rightfully belonged to the current monarch.”
“Howard tells me you are finding out about appearances.”
“Yes.” ST does not hide his glance toward the steward. “I am discovering that it is others who do not permit me to be on an equal footing.”
“Exactly so.” The Queen smiles. “And does Howard instruct?”
“I suspect so, Ma’am.” ST also smiles. “But with Howard, who can ever know?”
“Oh, we live and learn from that one.”
The Queen looks away from the men and stares out the window. Since ST is here by request and no polite dismissal has occurred, he realizes the audience is not over. He also realizes, standing and looking onto a burgeoning garden, that this may be one of the quietest rooms he has ever been in. There is not a sound reaching them from the great city of London, nor from the bustle of the palace.
“When my mother did come here, this was her favourite room with her favourite view.” The Queen points out the window. “She would often spend an afternoon here after some public or family function – the two often intertwined.”
“As she would often point out, Ma’am.”
ST almost snorts in surprize for Howard has just given the Queen a verbal nudge. He assumes this is part of a steward’s job, but ST has never seen it done.
“Yes, Howard.” The Queen glances at him. “My mother was a ‘public’ person over sixty years. She both resented and appreciated the fact that she had forty years without.”
“Both, Ma’am?” ST is struck by the notion for not only does it sound contradictory but he is startled to realize he has similar feelings.
“Yes.” The Queen turns and looks directly at ST. “She appreciated the fact she did experience the younger portion of her life where she lived almost normally. She resented the fact that by having that experience she lived the rest of her life knowing what she was missing.”
“And you, Ma’am?”
“I was not born to be a Queen but as long as Uncle David had no issue I was always reminded I was Heir Presumptive. My youth had some normality but I was never allowed to go my own way. “She pauses to look out the window. “I have never known what I am missing but I am aware I am always missing something.”
“Do you think that is worse?”
“How can I compare?”
ST has no answer for this and hopes it is rhetorical. That you can’t really know one thing without experiencing its opposite is a nugget found in the core of Space/Time – and Space/Time rules the world.
“Howard’s body language is urging me on.”
“Is it, Majesty?” It is Howard himself who asks the question. “Uncharted waters, Ma’am. I apologize.”
“You’re being protective, Howard.” The Queen nods. “It’s appreciated.”
In my novel, More Famous Than The Queen, I follow the life of ST, so famous he is only known my his initials. One of his friends is the Queen of England. They have the occasional meeting.
Here, written a number of years ago, is an abridged account of one of his meetings with Her Majesty, in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
So, why not share, on the heels of the recently released documentary of Her Majesty, walking and talking in her gardens – itself quickly becoming famous.
ST walks half way along the lake without seeing anyone else. He assumes he will quickly be notified when the Monarch is ready to receive him. He knows his progress is being monitored by sensors and security devices.
He slows his pace. He is past the turn in the path, and nearly to the head of the lake. He can not be more obviously present as he stands beside the glistening body of water.
ST absently gazes at the ground in search of a skipping stone. The lake is so narrow, he will have to throw along its length. It seems he won’t get to practice his rusty skills, for the earth is totally absent of suitable stones. Crushed, white pebbles border the lake. All of the strategically placed rocks are too hefty – some even large enough to sit upon. It is apparent the area is regularly raked.
He pushes his shoe through the pristine arrangement, hunting for an errant rock which might have missed a ground keeper’s eye. Not a particle of dust accumulates on his highly-shined toe.
ST’s hunt is futile, and he begins to search in earnest around one of the large rocks. Instead of using his toe, he carefully reaches forward to push the polished pebbles out of the way. He even picks some up, hefting them in his palm.
“Is it your intent to stone our fish?”
ST is so startled he drops the pebbles. He has heard not the slightest sound behind him. He turns with much surprise and shock, prepared to rebuke whichever ground keeper or security person he confronts. His angered preparations are for naught.
“They will prove adept at avoidance.”
“They have survived many a grandchild.”
ST stares at the small woman, and actually feels a twinge of reverence. They have met before, and had conversations – not just two minutes of “chat” during some reception. Even though ST knows all about the smoke and mirrors employed by fame, there is always something at the core to be obscured and reflected.
A small woman in black, glancing at him while squinting into the sun. It is not who she is, but all the things people believe when they meet. For the first time, he realizes what others may be seeing when they come to look at him.
“Skipping stones, Ma’am.”
“A poor choice here.” She turns from the sun.
It seems to ST she would like to be alone, but for him to leave in any direction would be acutely apparent. Startled by royalty at the beginning, and offending royalty at the end, is not the way he wants to remember this encounter.
He stands his ground, keeps silent, and watches the small woman’s back, as if he were a faithful yeoman of the guard. Give him a halberd and pike, and he would be the most diligent defender the kingdom has ever seen.
She is staring into the water, which reflects the blue sky and the trailing white clouds. The surface is so calm their reflections sparkle. “Do you know they call this the Queen’s weather?”
“That seems rather a lot of responsibility to us.” She takes an unhurried look into the sky, then points to a huge swath of blue. “As if we could command such a thing.”
“It’s just as easy to take the credit.”
“Then credit must be taken for the poor weather. To be accorded jurisdiction over fifty percent, demands a responsibility over the other fifty.” She turns and looks directly at ST. “And so much more, beyond our expertise.”
And although ST does understand, he speaks because he is spoken to. And he does not speak the first words which spring into his head, which would be impertinent.
“Yes, Ma’am.” He has forgotten how perceptive she is.
“Many do.” She is waiting.
“`Heavy is the head that wears the crown’.”
“Our Mr. Shakespeare knew his Royalty.” Her eyes definitely change, ST will swear to it. “Although we suspect he would prefer a correct rendition. `Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’.” “Henry IV, Part 2.”
“Are you playing catch-up?”
“It is to be commended.”
She glances toward the palace, and then looks into the sky. “In the country, we generally tell time by the sun.” She again walks toward the lake, and stands so close her toes seem to touch the water.
“This conversation must never have taken place.”
“Ma’am. My plan is to make my memoirs a tissue of lies.”
The larger-than-life cruise ship, Queen Mary 2, was in Halifax for the day, and departed this evening. It probably gets special attention because of its grandeur. Also, the Cunard Shipping Line, nominal owner of the ship, was the creation of a Halifax chap, Samuel Cunard, back in 1839. The Cunard Line is now folded into the Carnival empire, but that’s business.
As The Queen Mary 2 left, it was escorted by a Canadian Navy Coastal Defence Vessel – the HMCS Summerside, a harbour fire boat spraying arcs of water, and even a helicopter flew overhead. It took its time leaving.
I have written about the the launch of Queen Mary 2 in my novel Fame’s Victim. The main character of my novel, known as ST, is good friends with the actual Queen Elizabeth the Second, who launched the ship. ST and his lady friend, a famous actress whom he always refers to as Garbo (though she be not the actual Garbo) are on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary 2. That chapter is below.
Excerpt From Fame’s Victim:
ST extends his hand just as a volley of the extensive fireworks light up The Queen Mary 2 and the harbour side where she has just been launched. He flinches but the Queen does not.
“So much for the Queen’s weather.” The Queen points to the torrents pelting the dock. “It rains on my reign.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” ST hears Garbo’s barely repressed giggle behind him. “I believe you have not met – “
“This charming lady with the delightful sense of humour.” The Queen looks past ST. “No, I have not.”
ST takes a side step as Garbo extends her hand.
Garbo has been instructed that formal curtsies are not in fashion, but the actress in her makes her modified one very graceful. The Queen is obviously amused and pleased.
“We understand you both are on the maiden voyage to the United States.”
“Is he attempting some sort of record, do you think?” The Queen points to ST.
“Ma’am?” Garbo is confused.
“The last flight of the Concorde and now the first voyage of QM2.” The Queen smiles. “It sounds to me like some type of Time muddle.”
“Ma’am.” Garbo giggles and ignores protocol by touching the Queen’s arm. “I don’t make theories about Time and he doesn’t try to act.”
“Very sensible.” The Queen looks from one to the other. “I don’t act either.”
There is another eruption of fireworks, and they look into the dark sky. The vibrant colours flash against the side of the ship and sparkle on the water’s surface.
“We had best go in.”
Even before ST has agreed, ship’s crew and members of the Queen’s entourage have opened doors and produced umbrellas for the twenty second walk.
“I’m not sure what my grandmother would think of her namesake.” The Queen indicates that ST and Garbo walk beside her, which causes some manoeuvring as the Queen is using a cane because of her hip operation. “Perhaps a ship which dwarfs the Titanic would be beyond her comprehension.”
Three abreast confuses those in attendance though the ranks quickly settle into place. As they approach the doorway ST executes a couple of half steps so the women go through the entrance without crowding. He then quickly returns to his place.
“Mind you, Queen Mary would certainly appreciate the opulence.” There is a quick royal chuckle. “And she could tally the worth of each item to within ten pound, if not sometimes to the shilling.”
ST assumes the Queen would know the powers of her own grandmother, but he wonders if anyone could rightly cost the grandeur that surrounds them. He and Garbo will shortly be taking a tour of the high points while the Royal party will be given a different tour of other high points. He has been told that a complete tour of all the high points would take ten hours. A leisurely inspection will take three days of their trip if he so desires. It is a far cry from the Concorde where twenty minutes served the same purpose.
“My walking stick shortens my own look around.” The Queen smiles up at the couple. “However there is a Wedgwood Panel I have insisted upon. Do try to see it on your own – it graces a wall in Kings Court.”
“Yes. Ma’am.” ST answers with less enthusiasm though he will give it a close examination, as he will no doubt be queried the next time they meet.
The three of them now cross a wide and carpeted expanse where ship’s crew and invited guests line both walls. The Queen notes a decidedly younger crowd mingling together and glances at Garbo.
“Let’s work either side of the room. I would guess that section is more for you than me.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Garbo blushes. “I’m sure they would be happy to see you.”
“Not ‘as happy’.” The Queen nods in their direction. “One knows one’s time and place.”
As Garbo approaches the now-applauding group, the Queen slows her pace, making ST do likewise. Her voice is low enough to make him lean closer to her.
“”You’ve been in the news.”
“Hollywood sightings and Paris auctions and the trailing of Google.”
The Queen’s Birthday Parade, Trooping the Colour, took place today in Central London to mark Her Majesty’s official 91st birthday on Saturday. Embed from Getty Images Dressed in a pale blue dress and matching hat, the 91-year-old monarch took the salute at Horseguards Parade and inspected her guards as she does every year. With celebration comes…