If you thought the Canadian media coverage of Friday’s Royal Wedding was over the top, you would have gagged on the tonnes of fluff extruded in the British press.
No aspect of the event was too obscure, minute or irrelevant to escape in-depth perusal — from the real reasons Tony Blair was shunned (that damn autobiography and Blair’s refusal to replace the decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia) to where the guests could find find a loo in Westminster Abbey during the wedding (they had to hold it — there are no toilets in the Abbey).
But the most bizarre bit of speculation I saw was this in The Guardian: Who would ascend the throne of England, Scotland, Wales, Canada etc. if ALL the royals attending the wedding were wiped out by a terror attack or some similar catastrophic happening at Westminster Abbey or Buckingham Palace.
In other words, who was the most senior royal not attending the wedding? And why was he or she not there? Is there a designated disaster backup plan for the British monarchy — sort of like the American vice-president never flying in the same plane as the president?
So the premise is/was wildly hypothetical (especially since it didn’t happen) but this is the reasoning The Guardian’s Victoria Coren gave for pursuing her macabre investigation:
“Was that tasteless speculation? I say not; the whole point of cheering the arrival of a future queen, in heartfelt yet faintly insectoid manner, is to ensure the safety of succession. It’s quite appropriate to wonder what would happen if…
“Anyway, we all did it. Terrorist-phobia is too high for it not to have occurred to us. There were police everywhere, on foot, on horseback, and I’m sure a few extra disguised as emirs. Potential danger lurked behind every pillar. ”
After eyeballing the guest list and all those royal bums in the prime seats at the wedding, Coren concluded (quite rightly): The royal closest in line to the throne who would not have been killed in a hypothetical Westminster cataclysm was … wait for it … the Queen’s four-month-old great-granddaughter, Savannah Phillips, who was back at one of the palaces with her nanny while dad Peter and mom Autumn were watching cousin Will get hitched.
(Now there’s the real proof the British monarchy has been common-ized if not modernized — the Queen has a granddaughter-in-law named Autumn and a great-granddaughter named Savannah. What next? Will Will and Kate’s kids be named Aiden, Brayden and Caden?)
If it wasn’t Savannah’s diapered bottom plopped on the bomb-scarred hypothetical throne, it would have been somebody else’s posterior. There’s no shortage of potential claimants to the British crown.
The official website of the British monarchy, www.royal.gov.uk, lists 38 members of the Queen’s family in order of their standing, succession-wise. But that official list is out of date— it hasn’t been rejigged since little Savannah was born on Dec. 29, 2010, in 12th position on the list, thus knocking the 27 royals below her down a notch.
But even if the Queen and all 39 members of her direct family — even little Savannah, poor baby — were somehow knocked off simultaneously, there would still be somebody to crown monarch.
According to the navel-gazers of the British genealogical establishment, more than 2,500 mostly European blue bloods have the qualifications to make some claim to the British throne.
The playboy King of Sweden (above), for example, is somewhere around No. 200 on the list. The Queen of Denmark makes the list around 240th spot. But there are plenty of other princlings, princessi, ducs, contessas and barons from every nook and cranny in Europe filling out the list: Baroness Chantal de Sambucy de Sorgue (also known as Chantal de France) and Comte Achille of Limburg-Stirum, for other examples. (The list even includes “the illegitimate children of Diane Beigbeder.” Apparently you can’t, by law, marry a Catholic or divorcee and ascend the throne of England etc. but you can be a bastard. Figures — not that there’s anything wrong with bastards; plenty of kings, queens and popes had ‘em and I’ve been a right royal one myself on occasion.)
I do sense a bit of straying here (“Garcon, un auto vin rogue, bitte”) so let’s reel it back in and take a look at little Savannah Phillips, 12th in line of succession to the English etc. etc.
During the Will & Kate thingy at Westminster Abbey, Savannah was bunked up with Nanny in one of the royal palaces (St. James being the most likely, since that’s where Grannie Annie hangs her tiara in London), but that’s not actually home: Daddy has a nice little placement running Asian sports sponsorships for the Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong, so home’s really a palace in HK — or will be when all the current hoopla is over and everybody goes back to, um, work.
There was some talk that the Queen wasn’t too fond of the trailer-park name Savannah (at least it wasn’t Brit-knee) for her first great-grandchild, but everyone looks happy enough in this nice Daily Mail photo from Savannah’s christening in the 14th-Century Church of the Holy Cross, Avening, Gloucestershire, taken by amateur photographer Ian Mcdonald the weekend before the big wedding.
(ASIDE: Since the christening was a private family event, we still don’t know what Savannah’s middle names are. Royal babies are usually christened with four, five or six, sometimes eight or nine. Could she be Savannah Sunshine Punkydoodle Britney Soweto Feathers Phillips?)
But The Guardian, The Daily Mail and everyone else seems to have missed the biggest scoop in all the hypothetical doodling about baby Savannah becoming Queen: If the hypothetical terror attack took out the whole royal wedding party, Savannah would be the first CANADIAN Queen of England, Scotland, Wales etc.
Yep, because Savannah’s mom, Autumn Phillips (nee Kelly) is a Montreal girl who met eligible young royal Peter Phillips at the 2003 Montreal Grand Prix when he was doing something or other for the Williams F1 racing team. Autumn swears she didn’t know the young buck was a royal until six weeks later, long after they got cosy. Honest.
Now the bad news is that, when Autumn and Peter got married in 2008, she had to give up her Catholicism and become an Anglican so Peter wouldn’t lose his place in line to the throne .(He’s No. 11, right ahead of Sahara or Savannah or whatever her name is.)
The good news is Autumn didn’t have to renounce her Canadian citizenship in order to marry into the Royal Family (although I think she would have if push came to shove).
So, with Daddy carrying a U.K. passport and Mommy entitled to both U.K. and Canadian passports, dear little Savonarola was born with DUAL CITIZENSHIP — British and Canadian.
What a lucky child.
So if — and this is still a very big IF — Prince Charles and his kids die, Prince Andrew and his kids die, Prince Edward and his kids die, her grandmother dies and she bumps off her own father before Queen Elizabeth dies, dear little Savannah will become Queen of England etc — the first (and probably only and last) CANADIAN (or at least half-Canadian) to sit on the British throne.
All hail Queen Savannah of Canadah!
Makes a body proud, eh?