Royal fever as Canadians plan jubilee parties
A royal wedding tea at St. Matthews on the Plains Anglican Church in Burlington in advance of Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding.(The Canadian Press / John Rennison)
Published Tuesday, May 15, 2012 12:05PM EDT
Just over a year ago, Canada's royal loyalists came together to celebrate the nuptials of Prince William and Duchess Catherine. Revellers at home waved Union Jack flags, hosted tea parties and praised the young couple getting married an ocean away.
Royal fever endured into the summer when the newlyweds toured Canada, and if chatter among the nation's monarchists is any indication, the enthusiasm hasn't waned.
Except this time, all eyes are on the family matriarch. Though the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's reign was on Feb. 6, many of the most anticipated parties -- taking place throughout the Commonwealth -- are scheduled for late May and early June.
Paying homage to the head of state, Ottawa has put aside a reported $7.5 million for year-round festivities related to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Of that total, $2 million has gone towards a fund for local celebrations.
Communities, schools, not-for-profits and other groups looking to whoop it up royally had two chances to submit applications for funding. The last opportunity passed on May 7, about seven months after the first deadline.
Though the final window has just closed, a report obtained by the Canadian Press suggests the Diamond Jubilee advisory committee has been flooded with pitches.
The Nov. 26 document, acquired through an Access to Information request, said that Canadian Heritage received 232 proposals in the first application round.
Officials haven't said how many pitches have received funding, or provided any examples of event proposals. The fall report, however, noted that the Diamond Jubilee fund was "over subscribed" at the time.
An interview request from CTVNews.ca to Canada's heritage department and the Diamond Jubilee Advisory Committee was declined.
The bulk of the party proposals -- 78 to be exact -- came from Ontario, according to the CP report. Atlantic Canada followed with 50 event ideas. Close behind with 49 was British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon. Thirty-nine were from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, while Quebec trailed with 16.
Traditional tunes, pealing bells and freshly brewed tea
Though B.C. monarchist Winifred Franklin hasn't requested funding for her jubilee church event in New Westminster, she says she's worked hard to make it an affair fit for a Queen.
The congregation at Queens Avenue United Church will begin with a commemorative church service, during which a choir will perform songs sung at Queen Elizabeth's official coronation. "Music for the Royal Fireworks" by famed composer George Frideric Handel and "Trumpet Tune" by the renowned Henry Purcell are also on the song list.
"The music planned is very special and we have one of the finest organs in the province," Franklin said in a phone interview from Burnaby, B.C.
A formal reception complete with tea, cake and scones will follow. A photograph of the Queen mailed from officials in Ottawa will be displayed on an easel, and the monarch's formal Diamond Jubilee greeting will be read out.
Among the expected attendees are dignitaries from City Hall, members of the fire department, police officers, veterans, girl scouts and cadets.
The piece de resistance, says Franklin, will be a symbolic ringing of the church bells. Organizers needed to obtain special permission from the city before the Schulmerich Carillon could toll 60 times in honour of the Queen's 60 years on the throne.
The sound will float over the city of New Westminster, which was given its name by Queen Victoria as a tribute to the similarly named Westminster area in London.
For Franklin, whose ancestors are of British descent, tradition and ceremony are key parts of a country's existence.
"A prime minister has to split his time between the ceremonial and political, whereas a monarch can be separate from the political and just fulfill the ceremonial. I feel it's necessary to separate those two parts of a country's life," the 82-year-old explained.
Similarly regal occasions are being held around the country, including:
- Winnipeg, Man.: A Diamond Jubilee Garden Party will be hosted by the province's lieutenant governor Philip S. Lee on May 26. Attendees are encouraged to wear their best "garden party hats" to this event, which is modelled after Manitoba's garden party for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
- Toronto, Ont.: Care for some afternoon tea? The famed Le Meridien King Edward Hotel plants to host Diamond Jubilee tea services from June 1 to June 10. But it isn't your grandmother's teatime. Individual tickets are $55 and include a cocktail aptly named "The Elizabeth" as well as a special "jubilee blend" tea.
- Victoria, B.C.: A royal dog show and tea party will be held at the Fairmont Empress Hotel on June 3. Guests have been asked to bring blankets, chairs and their furry companions to this event.
Even from across the Atlantic, the managing editor of Majesty Magazine says he feels that the level of interest in the Queen's jubilee among Commonwealth countries is beginning to mount.
"Excitement around the monarchy came back to a great extent last year for the royal wedding. You could almost regard that as a warm-up for the Queen's jubilee," Joe Little said in a phone interview from London, England.
Whether it's in Canada or the U.K., Little said he anticipates widespread support for the Queen's anniversary celebrations.
"This is your jubilee just as it is my jubilee," he said. "People want to honour the lifelong service she's given to both Britain, Canada and other Commonwealth countries."
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