ROYALTY

Discordant notes

Embarrassing incidents jolt a royal visit

MARK NICHOLS July 31 1989
ROYALTY

Discordant notes

Embarrassing incidents jolt a royal visit

MARK NICHOLS July 31 1989

Discordant notes

ROYALTY

Embarrassing incidents jolt a royal visit

The $257-million Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Que., had been open to the public for less than a month. But last week, officials temporarily barred ordinary visitors from entering, while scores of plainclothes RCMP officers circulated inside and outside the gleaming new building. Half an hour later, the Duke and Duchess of York arrived to visit the museum and present Rafael Goldchain, a Chilean-born, Toronto-based photographer, with the annual prize for photography named in their honor by the Canadian government when they were married in 1986. The event was typical of the hectic but low-key swing through three Canadian provinces, with side visits to Ottawa, by Andrew and his wife, Sarah. There were a few discordant notes. Earlier in the week, the smoothly organized tour was unexpectedly jolted by a series of incidents with sexual connotations. As well, antiroyalist sentiments emerged in Quebec City when some spectators booed the royal couple.

For the most part, the Yorks proved popular with ordinary Canadians as they followed a gruelling schedule of events in the 13-day tour that began with their arrival in Charlottetown on July 13. After spending three days on Prince Edward Island, the couple flew to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Charlevoix riding in Quebec and then spent three days shuttling by air from Quebec City to Ottawa and Montreal. Lisa MacMaster, a 26-year-old Toronto tele-

“there’s a whole different aura they carry. They are from a different world.” Julie Overend, a 15-year-old Hamilton, Ont., girl who saw the couple when they visited the city hall in Hull, expressed particular enthusiasm for Andrew. Said Overend: “He’s so good-looking.”

Still, the tour seemed to be dogged by awkward moments. One came during the couple’s brief visit to Montreal, where they viewed a Canadian movie that included a bedroom scene with partial nudity. When it appeared on the screen, Andrew turned away in apparent embarrassment. But observers at the screening of the 1986 Quebec film The Decline of the American Empire said that Sarah appeared unaware of her husband’s concern and continued to watch the scene.

Earlier in the week, controversy developed over a sexual innuendo in a speech written by the duke. In the speech, Andrew playfully referred to a brief power failure that occurred at the Charlottetown hotel where the royals had stayed, and said that his personal detective, Geoffrey Padgham, and Maj. Susan Rodgman, a Canadian Air Force physician who is accompanying the royal tour, were caught together in the hotel’s whirlpool bath during it. Although Andrew omitted the lines from his speech, British journalists—who had received an advance text—reported the anecdote, prompting a statement from Geoffrey Crawford, an assistant press secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, who is accompanying the tour. Said Crawford: “It is all innocent and shouldn’t be read the wrong way.”

The only open hostility that Andrew and Sarah encountered occurred in Quebec City early in the week when about 50 antimonarchists booed the Yorks during ceremonies ending the city’s summer festival. But when Andrew, speaking in French, said how happy he was to be there, applause drowned the boos. Later, during a walkabout, Jean-Paul Milion— a visiting musician from France—tried to kiss the duchess on the cheek, but she thwarted his attempt by quickly pulling back her head.

The Yorks’ tour received modest media coverage both in Canada and in Britain, where the duke and duchess have been under fire for neglecting their royal duties—and for leaving their 11-month-old daughter at home when they travel. Last week, several popular London tabloid newspapers published photographs of Beatrice taking her first steps in public, with accompanying articles that suggested that Sarah had missed the moment by being away in Canada. The Yorks ended the week with two days’ of seclusion at a private cottage at La Ronge in northern Saskatchewan before winding up their visit with a three-day tour of the province. After that, they were scheduled to fly home to Britain, where even the critical Fleet Street press was likely to be satisfied that the Yorks had done their duty.

LISA VAN DUSEN

phone company employee, and Scott Smith, 27, who works for a Toronto construction firm, were driving to Montreal when they decided to go to Ottawa to see the duke and duchess. “Because they’re royalty,” said MacMaster,

MARK NICHOLS with LISA VAN DUSEN in Ottawa