Monday, May 20, 2013

Victoria Day Natterings

She was born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24th, 1819, the only child  of George III's fourth son, Edward, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, king of the Belgians.  She ruled for more than 63 years and during her reign, she ruled over a quarter of the world's population.  

While she started out like this



It is this picture which is the quintessential Victoria to me, the dour Queen being rolled about in her chair.


Victoria Day in Canada has been celebrated since the 19th century and is always held the last Monday before May 25th.  While originally honouring Queen Victoria's birthday, it is now the official Canadian celebration of the reigning Monarch's birthday and the day is often known colloquially as "the Queen's Birthday".  It is also the official kick-off of Summer in Canada: this is the weekend when gardens are planted, cottages are opened, canoes are put to water and beer is drunk in copious quantities.  Interestingly, Queen Victoria never visited Canada, which may be just as well - she might not have been amused by us.

Being royalty, and being royalty in the line of succession, means a life of duty.

Some, like Victoria, or our current Queen and perhaps even the Duchess of Cambridge  take to the duty effortlessly.


This requires a certain temperament, a personality that can adapt to structure and large stretches of tedium.

Others struggle and chafe under the attention.  






We love the Queen and Kate, but we relate to Harry and Diana, or at least I do.  They are like us, flawed and unable to follow the "rules" easily.  They may or may not be likable to us, but in showing us their warts, they cede the high ground to what is perhaps a higher ground: personality.

Oh, I know.  The British royal family is an anachronism, it is no longer smart to support the monarchy and much of that is laid at the feet of poor old Prince Charles and his tragic ex-wife Diana.  I happen to like Charles all right.  I have met him twice - once in his prime and again in 1997, a few month before Diana was killed.  In person, he is charming and better-looking than he photographs.  Caught in the cross-hairs of what was then (and now) an increasingly out-of-control and immoral tabloid press and cast as the villain in a simplistic soap opera version of his marriage, he will likely never recover his image fully.  But I like him and I do not think that a King Charles will necessarily be a bad thing.  And the longer that Prince William and Kate can avoid being reigning monarchs, the more fortunate they and their child(ren) will be, in my opinion.

This week, I had some flowers that needed a smaller vase, and came across my Charles and Diana royal wedding beer stein, given to me by my monarchist grandmother, who sadly died only a year afterwards.  I rarely use the stein, I am not much of a beer drinker, but I love it because it reminds me of my grandmother, who thought a stein was infinitely more cheeky and apropos for an eighteen year old than a tea cup would have been at the time.  I also love it, because in 1981, I did believe in the fairy tale.  I think Charles and Diana did, too, though neither understood that the world, and the old rules, were changing quickly.  

So on this Victoria Day, I will raise a glass to the Royal Family and their sense of duty (and yes, their sense of entitlement to), but more importantly,  my toast will be simple: Better them than me.




So Happy Victoria Day to one and all and stay safe out there on the dock!






24 comments:

  1. CROWNS & HEARTS Well WMM, I hope that Charles will be smart and do like his grandfather (Bertie/ King George) as a King Charles has never boded well for the British or the monarch's own head. The evolving role between celebrity and monarchy is interesting. I often think it would have been a very different world if royals followed their hearts in marriage (Wallis & Edward, the Nazi leanings, Margaret and Peter Townsend, Charles & Camilla, then again Sarah and Andrew was an epic fail.) At least this latest generation seems to be getting it "right". You should pop online to the 100th anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show today. Harry will be showing Grannie round the garden he sponsored re. bringing attention to Lesotho. The gardener herself did a fantastic job IMO.

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    1. Oh, and I agree with you, "The Firm," for all its riches and perks, is a very proscribed and repetitive job.

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    2. Thanks muchly for the heads up about the chelsea flower show coverage - that show is on my bucket list! Is a rainy day here today, so my flower shopping is postponed till tomorrow! Am madly finishing Dan Brown so I can move on to Henry James - how's that for juxtaposition?

      Yes - I do wonder if he will use King Charles.....

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    3. Common ground - both authors can transport one to "exclusive" and treasured European places, with a bit of an American perspective/ sensibility?

      ANDIAMO I am worried Brown will be my "undoing." Postponed our planned Italy jaunt last year and I am crazy keen to go (both of us have been, but not together, not to Florence etc. etc.)

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    4. N.B. Today is press/ royal preview day for Chelsea. Should be some stuff on BBC online today. But expect most of images/ clips will be up tomorrow.

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    5. Well I just finished the book and it certainly makes you want to go to Florence, a bit to Venice, and also Istanbul. Much better book than last one!

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  2. i leave today for london and the garden that i cannot wait to see is prince charles' highgrove. i get goosebumps thinking i'll see it in person. i've never been much of a royalty watcher/follower but he loves his gardens and that makes me love him. also going to the chelsea flower show on thursday. this trip is a bucket list unto itself.

    have a lovely week and cheerio!

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    1. Janet - have a wonderful time! I have his hardcover book of his garden and I treasure it - his treatment of the land is admirable indeed! Please take and post pictures!!! and safe travels!

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    2. Janet have fun, we'll be thinking of you!

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  3. I always like Victoria Day weekend, our city quiets right down as people leave for their cottages, it's the start of summer. It is hot and sunny here and we spent yesterday at the nursery, it was so crowded and hot in the greenhouse I nearly fainted. But we bought lots of flowers for our pots and a giant hanging pot, the biggest ever, for the front porch. It's all ready for Miller Time!
    Have a great day, wait until I tell Little rascal that you've met Prince Charles twice, she's a real little royal watcher and she'll be so impressed!

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    1. Oh my gosh -your weather is giving me hope - this week is gardening week here - maybe it will be warmer as the week goes on! Yes - met him at two different times - not formally though, just chatted with him at walkabouts! Saw Diana only once - she was beautiful in person, more beautiful than the pictures give credit!

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    2. "... just chatted with him" twice? To think I'm two degrees from!

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  4. I'm always reminded the exotic pets that are quite often kept by the people who can least afford them. And pugs. They're expensive to begin with and the upkeep and hereditary problems are a shortcut to bankruptcy.

    On the other hand, I was cheered to see that Buckingham Palace has a gift shop. I bought a few (overpriced, but everything in London is these days) refrigerator magnets there for some friends who would appreciate them. There are also aprons for sale. Love the idea of the Dear Queen fixing a snack....

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    1. wonder if she can make toast...

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  5. Happy Victoria Day to you too, WMM!

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  6. Funny but before reading Canadian bloggers, I never realized that you have this sentimental attachment to the monarchy. Victoria has witnessed some transformation during her reign, talk about times a-changing...
    Happy Victoria Day!

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    1. Thanks AJC - I think Canadians do have a bit of a love-hate, but they come out in droves when the royals come and they do love the attention that they get from the monarchy. William and Kate spent over a week here last year and they were rock stars to the public and they had obviously done their homework and knew what to say when, and how!

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  7. Now WMM, I think you could be up to the task here. I have Charles' organic garden book about how the estate is managed. Boy, what we could do with Help!!!

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    1. Lane - I think that all the time - it's like Beverly Nichols with his gardener! I just want it to stop raining! Am off to the nursery with my $300 in gift cards tomorrow to do some damage!

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  8. Happy Victoria Day, Wendy!

    We have a holiday for the Queen's birthday coming up in Australia, so much as I disagree with the monarchy, I do appreciate the extra day off!

    I met Lady Diana and Charles once upon a time at the Royal Academy. I was a gauche teenager and almost too star struck to speak!

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    1. Ruth - that is funny! I am not normally shy, but I do get a little star struck at times as well. The older I get, the less that happens though!

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  9. Is this one of the high holidays when I should pile on the jewelry? ;)

    Happy Victoria Day!

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    1. Tiffany Rose - YES! The more the better!

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Kindness is a virtue...