Elizabeth II had the poise to navigate the cesspool of colonialism

The British Empire enslaved human beings, destroyed functioning states, destroyed economies, and imprisoned and killed countless people

Elizabeth II had the poise to navigate the cesspool of colonialismThe period of mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II was unprecedented. In my experience, the passing of an older person is followed by a celebration of life, where people gather to pay their respects and honour the positive legacy of a person who touched their lives. The legacy of the Queen was her…

Rest well, Queen Elizabeth II – and welcome, King Charles III

The way he has handled the transition could lead to his reign being an unexpectedly impressive one

Rest well, Queen Elizabeth II – and welcome, King Charles IIIThe magnificent celebration of the life of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history, has come to an end. She arrived at her final resting place, St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, on Monday. Elizabeth was buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, which she had commissioned for her late father in…

What Queen Elizabeth II meant to Canada

She’ll always be remembered fondly as an important part of the Canadian family

What Queen Elizabeth II meant to CanadaQueen Elizabeth II passed away on Sept. 8 at age 96. She was the longest-serving British monarch in history at 70 years, 214 days. For many people around the world, she was the only person who had ever sat on that throne in their lifetime. Elizabeth either witnessed or participated in many important events that…

What is the monarchy’s future in Canada?

Now that Queen Elizabeth II is gone

What is the monarchy’s future in Canada?Realistically, Queen Elizabeth II’s death at age 96 wasn’t a surprise. But it still came as a jolt, the impact being accentuated by the apparent suddenness of her final decline. For many, such as my Toronto-born wife, Elizabeth’s 70-year reign as Queen of Canada rendered her a benign presence who symbolized continuity in a changing…

Gaining perspective: Princess Diana’s death 25 years on

She was a young woman of scant personal resources who believed she was basking with dolphins when she was foundering among sharks

Gaining perspective: Princess Diana’s death 25 years onIt’s hard to believe that Aug. 31 marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. The passage of time has a way of creeping up on you. In the days and weeks immediately following the tragic accident, the story consumed the headlines and the airwaves. You couldn’t escape from it, even if you wanted to.…

Hereditary empires and the struggle with modernity

Hereditary dynasties could not survive the industrial revolution. Well, except for one

Hereditary empires and the struggle with modernityLast week’s column drew from British historian Dominic Lieven’s current book about emperors and empires. Called In the Shadow of the Gods, it’s an exploration of the characteristics that contributed to dynastic success or failure. Lieven’s penultimate chapter deals with the challenges modernity posed to hereditary dynasties. As the environment changed rapidly, the crowns adorning…

How empires grab and hold on to power

Being recognized as divinely anointed didn’t guarantee acquiescence, but it was still a huge asset

How empires grab and hold on to powerDominic Lieven is a British historian who has written extensively on European, particularly Russian, history. His latest book, In the Shadow of the Gods, is about emperors and empires. It examines their historical scope and the characteristics that contributed to dynastic success or failure. At over 400 densely written pages (excluding notes), the book is…

Why all Canadians should be monarchists

Queen Elizabeth represents continuity with the past, including the best developments in Canadian history

Why all Canadians should be monarchistsWith the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation upon us, this is a useful opportunity to ponder the monarchy in Canada. Some will assert that the concept of royalty was long ago outmoded. Others oppose what Queen Elizabeth II represents – colonialism and the British Empire. It can also be argued that with an ever…

Catholic Ireland’s conflicted interest in the monarchy

Dublin cinemas planned to screen the Queen's coronation but opted not to after receiving threats

Catholic Ireland’s conflicted interest in the monarchyNews stories about Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee put me in mind of a book by Irish author Mary Kenny. Called Crown and Shamrock, it’s described by historian Roy Foster as a “characteristically breezy, racy and insightful” look at a complicated relationship. Kenny is five months older than I am and what she writes of Ireland…

A love letter from Canadian LGBQT artist to the Queen 

She led me to the intersection of the many roads I could walk, in a bigger world with room for us all

A love letter from Canadian LGBQT artist to the Queen I began my life in Nova Scotia, the most British of Canadian provinces. As a young boy in the 1960s who preferred pink over blue, there was an enormous sense of not belonging, of living in a world that had not yet carved out a place for a child like me. In the accepted definition…

Barbados shakes off the chains of centuries of brutal oppression

Wealth can’t make what’s wrong right. It can’t make the truth disappear, and it can’t stop great people

Barbados shakes off the chains of centuries of brutal oppressionIn his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl discusses the internal character that allowed people to survive the Holocaust. He speaks of an “inner greatness,” where despite the horrendous circumstance, one can choose their attitude, their own way. This is the ultimate human freedom. We recently saw this inner greatness displayed by…

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothing

A profile of someone who has been in the public eye most of his life but achieved little of note isn’t a worthwhile subject

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothingPrince Harry is writing a book. Hmm. The crickets are pretty loud today.  All kidding aside, it’s true. “The Duke of Sussex is to publish an intimate memoir of his life,” the Daily Telegraph’s Victoria Ward wrote on July 19, “which he has vowed will be ‘accurate and wholly truthful.’” The book will be published by…

William of Orange was no charmer but he left a lasting legacy

Inspired the founding of the Orange Order

William of Orange was no charmer but he left a lasting legacyAs the marching season in Northern Ireland rolls around again, William of Orange (1650-1702) comes to mind. The memory of William – or King Billy – inspired the founding of the Orange Order almost a century after his death. Steadfast and stubborn in its championing of Irish Protestant identity, the Order remains committed to maintaining…

We need a better governor general. We don’t need to abolish the post

Trudeau’s proclivity for celebrity culture has brought shame to the institution of the Queen’s representative

We need a better governor general. We don’t need to abolish the postSince 1541, Canada’s vice-regal representatives have been lieutenant-governors, viceroys, governors and governors general. Vincent Massey, who served from 1952 to 1959, was the first Canadian-born governor general. All his successors have been Canadians, most of them well qualified for the job. After 476 years of vice-regal leadership, along came celebrity astronaut Julie Payette in 2017.…

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s Day

Sarsfield was the de facto commander of James’s forces in Ireland. The mission failed but his reputation for gallantry was assured

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s DayThis being the season of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish-themed column seems appropriate. And a recent news story provides a suitable prompt. Born between 1655 and 1658, Patrick Sarsfield was a dashing Irish hero. He was brave, patriotic and charismatic. And the fact that he was mortally wounded leading a cavalry charge at the 1693…