Arrangements for the current visit to Canada by Andrew, the Duke of York, and his wife, Sarah, began with an exchange of messages last January between London's Buckingham Palace and a small Canadian government office in Hull, Que. At first, the details were sketchy. The Duke and Duchess of York had just accepted Gov. Gen. Jeanne Sauvé’s invitation to visit Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Now it was time to begin the complicated process of working out all the details of the royal visit. In Ottawa, Harris Boyd, director general of the ceremonial branch in the office of Secretary of State Gerry Weiner, took charge of a 15-member logistics group that for the next six months arranged every detail. In early June, Boyd and his group travelled to each of the provinces that the Yorks would be visiting. The officials conferred with local authorities in drawing up a schedule and ensuring satisfactory hotel suites, security arrangements and menus. Said Boyd: “Everything has to be letter-perfect with the royals. Nothing can be left to chance.”
The Yorks’ July 13-25 visit is the second official tour that they have made of Canada—and their arrival late last week brought to four the number of royal travellers who have come to Canada this year. Queen Elizabeth, the 88-year-old Queen Mother, wound up a five-day visit to Ontario just four days before Andrew and Sarah arrived in Prince Edward Island. And Queen Elizabeth Il’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, made an unofficial visit to Toronto for three days in March, returning to Canada for another three days in May for the 75th anniversary of the convention of United Empire Loyalists in Lennoxville, Que.
Regardless of the length of a royal visit, each tour requires meticulous organization and intricate negotiations with Buckingham Palace that are sometimes frustrating for the Canadian side. Even the issuing of an invitation involves a lengthy bureaucratic process. Last summer, officials from P.E.I., Saskatchewan and Quebec—in a specific invitation from Premier Robert Bourassa—sent formal documents to Weiner’s office requesting that Andrew and Sarah visit those provinces. A committee with representatives from Sauvé’s office, the Prime Minister’s Office and other government ministries then reviewed the requests and recommended to Weiner that all three be approved. Having secured Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s approval, Weiner then wrote to Sauvé, who forwarded a formal request to Buckingham Palace last October.
Once an invitation has been extended, it can take up to eight weeks for a reply to arrive. Members of the Royal Family ultimately make their own decisions about which invitations they will accept. In June, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, turned down an invitation to attend the opening ceremonies for Toronto’s new domed stadium. They cited previous commitments as the reason.
Details: After the dates have been set, officials across the country begin working out details and looking after the thousands of complex arrangements that have to be made. In Ottawa, the federal team under Boyd co-ordinated their efforts with larger groups of provincial representatives who in turn are aided by hundreds of volunteers drawn from community groups. Typically, in Saskatchewan 29 employees of the provincial government were recruited part time to help arrange transportation, hospitality and security for the five-day stay by the royal visitors. As well, seven RCMP officers were assigned to oversee security arrangements. Said Michael Jackson, chief of protocol for the province: “The single most complex issue is the movement of the royals. It ranges from making sure a city is not ripping up a street where the motorcade is going, to moving the media so they are in place prior to the arrival of the royal couple at each event.”
Tastes: Sensitive travel arrangements that would reveal the personal tastes and habits of royalty are not publicly discussed, according to Clément Tousignant, chief media co-ordinator for the royal visit. Still, some of the intimate details that have been revealed suggest more about the royals than most of their public actions. While the Queen does not mind extensive travel across Canada’s vast territory, she prefers not to drink the bottled mineral water that is sold in Canada. Like British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Queen drinks English Malvern Spring Water—unavailable in Canada—and takes a supply with her whenever she travels.
Not surprisingly, Diana is reported to be particularly finicky about food because of her obsession with her weight. Sarah, on the other hand, is known to be far less fussy, although she is allergic to shellfish. When Andrew and Sarah dined with P.E.I. Premier Joseph Ghiz at Charlottetown’s Prince Edward Hotel last week, the other guests ate lobster and beef while Sarah was served salmon and beef. As well, Boyd’s office told tour organizers in Quebec City that the Yorks do not like dishes prepared with wine or liquor but will eat almost anything else.
Standards: By royal standards, the tour organizers consider Anne, the Princess Royal, and her husband, Mark Phillips—they last visited Canada together in 1986—to be unusually self-effacing. Boyd said that they prefer a small royal suite and little ceremony. Other royals are more particular about their rooms. Usually located on the top floors of hotels, royal suites often have a dressing table with a large mirror, a small desk and a fourposter bed. During their trip to Quebec City this week, Andrew and Sarah were to stay in the royal suite at the newly renovated Château Frontenac hotel. The opulent suite includes two bedrooms, a dining room and sitting room. The couple’s 14-member entourage were booked into their own rooms in the hotel, and security personnel from Scotland Yard and the RCMP, as well as others involved in the visit, were expected to occupy another 30 to 40 rooms.
The size of the entourage that accompanies visiting members of the Royal Family varies widely. The Queen usually travels with a personal party of 30, including three private secretaries, while about 20 people customarily accompany Charles and Diana. Until 1987, Vancouver-born Victor Chapman, the former CFL all-star punter who died later that year, was the Queen’s assistant press secretary—the third Canadian ever to have worked at Buckingham Palace. By comparison, Prince Philip was accompanied by a party of only three during his visits to Canada earlier this year, while the Queen Mother travelled with 10 other people during her recent visit.
Like other seasoned travellers, the royals are not hesitant to refer family members to their favorite hotels. Boyd said that when Princess Margaret, for one, visited Vancouver for Expo 86, she enjoyed her stay at the Four Seasons Hotel so much that she recommended it to the Queen, who stayed at the same hotel during her 1987 visit with the Commonwealth heads of state.
Protocol: The observance of royal protocol—the rules that stipulate correct practice in the presence of royalty—varies for different members of the Royal Family. Protocol is most stringent during visits by the Queen. Only designated officials and members of her personal entourage are allowed to speak directly with the monarch. Canadian officials must communicate with the royal party through a special Canadian secretary, who is appointed by order-in-council as visit co-ordinator for the royal tour. The Canadian co-ordinator—who has always been a man, Boyd said, because “Her Majesty finds it’s easier to work with males”—is permitted to speak directly to the Queen and works closely with the monarch’s three personal secretaries. At times, the directions of protocol take on a linguistic character. For this week’s visit to a pottery school in Mulroney’s Charlevoix riding in Quebec, protocol officials told Esther Legault, the 30-year-old owner of the school, to address Andrew and Sarah in French. The royal couple speak the language with some proficiency, and “They want to respect the language of the province,” she said.
Even the royal send-off requires a great deal of precision—including in what order the royal entourage boards the plane. At the end of their 13-day visit, Andrew and Sarah will return to London aboard an Air Canada Boeing 767 from Edmonton International Airport. Many members of the entourage will be seated in the executive class. The rest, including the royal couple, will occupy the first-class area at the front of the airplane. According to Boyd, that cuts down the amount of time the couple must wait before takeoff. By the time the royal visit comes to an end, thousands of minor details like that will have been dealt with and scores of others avoided, thanks to the meticulous planning that preceded the visit. Still, the continuing popularity of the Royal Family makes it almost certain that the end of one tour will be followed by a new round of planning for the next royal visit.
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