Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Brief History of Royal families in Canada

Whenever William and Catherine head out on tour one of the first questions royal watchers want answered is whether Prince George and Princess Charlotte will accompany them. Since they took George on their 2014 tour of Australia and New Zealand a precedent has been set for the family. Now, instead of assuming the children will stay home, people are more likely to expect them to join their parents.

Although the excitement is understandable, royal tour itineraries are said to be demanding and grueling for all those involved. Something hard not only on adults but small children too. It is possibly for this reason that royal parents wait until their children are much older to bring them along.

Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia in Canada, 1912

The earliest British royal parent and child arrival in Canada occurred in 1911. Queen Victoria's favorite son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught arrived with his wife and their popular daughter, twenty-five year old Princess Patricia to be sworn in as the tenth Governor General of Canada. The family resided at Rideau Hall from 1911-1916. Princess Patricia was popular with the public and her portrait appeared on a Dominion of Canada one-dollar note in 1917.  Princess Patricia's association with Canada continues through The Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

During his tenure as Governor General of Canada, Lord Athlone and his wife, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone welcomed various members of foreign royal families with children seeking refuge during the Second World War. Amongst these visitors were their own grandchildren, Richard, Elizabeth and Anne Abel-Smith. In 1954 Canada welcomed a visit from the Duchess of Kent and her daughter, Princess Alexandra.

It would not be until the 1970s that Canada would see another visit including parents and children. Between 1970 and 1978, during four official visits, the Queen was accompanied at various times by Prince Charles and Princess Anne (1970, 1971) and Prince Andrew and Prince Edward travelled with their parents in 1978.  In 1976, the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew (aged 16) and Prince Edward (aged 12) travelled to Canada during an official visit to watch Princess Anne compete in the Montreal Olympics.

In July 1981, three generations of the royal family were in Toronto at the same time. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret's separate visits intersected in Toronto. Princess Margaret and her daughter, Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones, were photographed with the Queen Mother prior to a dinner she was attending at the Royal York Hotel.

The arrival as a family would not be repeated until Charles, Diana, William (age 9) and Harry (age 7) visited Ontario in 1991. To date, Prince Harry is the youngest British royal to visit Canada.

In 1998, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry would visit Canada on a private holiday in Whistler British Columbia. The last time the royals have visited as a family.

Not counting Prince Andrew in utero during the Queen's 1959 Canadian tour, should Prince George and Princess Charlotte accompany their parents this Fall, Princess Charlotte (aged around 18 months by that point) will become the youngest British royal to step foot on Canadian soil.


The Government of Canada Canadian Heritage Website
Canada's Queen: Elizabeth II: A Celebration of Her Majesty's Friendship with the People of Canada
Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family in Canada: Golden Jubilee Edition
Royal Canada
Young Royals on Tour: William & Catherine in Canada
Royal Tours 1786-2010: Home to Canada

© Marilyn Braun 2016

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

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