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Does your history include the royals?

- May 31st, 2012

If you’ve ever wondered if a family tale about your great, great uncle Robert worked for the royals, now you can find out.

The website FindMyPast has released 50,000 staff records from the reign of King Charles II to King George V between 1660 and 1924. The records include details such as name, occupation, age, length of service and salary.

“A number of Canadians of British descent are likely to be able to trace their ancestry to the 50,000 royal staff who served British monarchs over four centuries and feature in these records,” Peter Freedman said in an e-mail promoting the release of records.

The records were previously only accessible at Windsor Castle by appointment.

With the release of the records, FindMyPast has also released the top 10 interesting job titles:

1. Chocolate maker to the queen

2.Yeoman of the month to her majesty Queen Mary in the pantry

3. Necessary woman to the corridor and entrance hall

4. Keeper of the lions in the tower

5. Moletaker

6. Master of the game of cock fighting

7. Groom of the removing wardrobe

8. Groom of the stole

9. Stewer of Herbs

10. Laundress of the body linen

“People across the globe continue to be fascinated by the British Royal Family, as well as the relationship between ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ life. In the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect opportunity to explore your family history and discover whether you have an ancestor who worked for the royal household,” historian Debra Chatfield said in the press release.

 

Diana, William and the backlash

- May 31st, 2012
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Diana often confided in Prince William when he was young. A new book suggests the princess suffered from mental illness, which affected her sons. File photo from 1991 royal tour to Canada shows Diana and William on the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, Ont. (Photo: Stan Behal/QMI AGENCY)

A new book by veteran royal reporter Penny Junor is causing controversy because it says Diana was mentally ill, and her illness affected her children.

In Prince William: Born to be King, Junor says his childhood was a “recipe for disaster.” With the rumours of infidelity (later confirmed by both parents), a nanny being sacked for no real reason, Diana’s attempts to get another one fired and then, tragically, his mother’s death, Junor writes that it’s no wonder William has trust issues and it took him eight years to propose to Kate Middleton.

“I think he was possibly testing Kate to see if she would also abandon him. I think that’s why he waited eight years before finally asking her to marry him,” Junor said in a recent interview with Maclean’s magazine (with the headline, How Diana damaged William).

But it’s not her take on William that has people upset – it’s the way she depicts Diana. A controlling mother who suffered from mental illness – eating disorders, cutting herself, possible narcissism - Diana’s behaviour no doubt altered her sons’ childhoods and lives, Junor says. (Junor paints Prince Charles in a slightly better light in the book, but I think it should be noted both parents had their faults.)

There is now a Facebook campaign to boycott Junor’s book – the group (of, admittedly, only a few members) has the tagline, “Stand up for Diana!”

Other critics have taken to commenting on stories, including the Maclean’s article, saying Junor is clearly a friend, or obsessed, with Charles and her book is trash, capitalizing on William’s upcoming 30th birthday and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (when all things royal are getting more attention).

Junor told Maclean’s she’s not surprised by the backlash – even now, nearly 15 years after her death, there are ardent supporters of Diana who do not want to see the other side of the People’s Princess. She told the Daily Mail she’s been called evil and vile for saying Diana had a mental illness.

The book, released in Britain, is due out in Canada June 19 – two days before William’s birthday.

There is no doubt having a parent (or family member or friend) with a mental illness will affect a person. Diana certainly had her problems, and hopefully William and Harry have been able to work with professionals to discuss their childhoods and have come to realize the world they lived in during their parents’ marriage is not the way things need to progress for themselves as they get older.

More than one in five Canadians are affected by mental illness. A new Mental Health Strategy for Canada was launched earlier this month – click here for more information.

Did she make things worse?

- May 29th, 2012
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Queen Elizabeth arrives at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 29. (Photo: Anthony Devlin/REUTERS)

A new poll shows 47% of Britons believe Britain has changed for the worse under Queen Elizabeth.

The ITV News/ComRes poll also found while more than half of those surveyed wouldn’t attend a jubilee celebration, most think the Diamond Jubilee will be good for business — 80% said the jubilee celebrations contribute to Britain’s reputation as a country with its own distinct character, and 65% said the event was good for the economy.

Only 14% opposed Britain having a monarchy, the Reuters story said.

The poll was released just days before the Queen is set to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.

On Monday there will be a star-studded concert. Performers included Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue, Stevie Wonder, Tim Jones, Elton John and Annie Lennox. A bank holiday will give Britons Monday and Tuesday off to celebrate her 60 years on the throne. Street parties and other celebrations are planned for the long weekend, not only in Britain, but also here in Canada.

Will you be celebrating?

The latest news on the tour

- May 20th, 2012
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They're here! Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, (seen in this file photo) kick off their Canadian tour Monday and will hit New Brunswick, Toronto and Regina. (Photo: Anwar Hussein Collection/WENN.com)

Want the latest news on the royal tour of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall?

Check out: Canoe.ca/royals

Woo us

- May 19th, 2012
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Here's one way to win over many Canadians - enjoy a pint! Here, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, share a laugh as he asks for his pint of Cambrian Heart beer back during an August 2010 tour in Wales. (Photo: Anwar Hussein Collection/WENN.com)

Earlier this week, I wrote that it’s hard to get excited about the royal tour of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

The royal couple will be in Canada for a three-city, four day tour starting Monday in New Brunswick and wrapping up in Regina.

I said I suspect many people aren’t excited about the tour for the same reason — they see Prince Charles as dull compared to other royals.

Some people disagreed with me, saying I clearly didn’t understand the man.

But I am not alone in not understanding Prince Charles.

And now is his chance to prove himself to us.

They did the weather at the BBC in Scotland. Camilla held a prop gun on the set of her favourite TV show in Scandinavia. What will they do there that will make Canadians sit up and take notice of the royal couple? What will they do to make Canadians thing, “We were wrong – they’re not so dull.”

I already think Camilla is pretty cool – I like that she does stuff during usually-boring media photo-ops. She’s refreshing.

So now, it’s up to Prince Charles.

Some of you will argue Prince Charles has nothing to prove – he will be king. That should be enough for us.

But I would argue he does need to prove he’s likable because we are still his subjects, and he needs our support. The royal family needs us to love him, or, at the very least, like him as our future monarch.

I applaud the prince for his work with charities and environmental causes. I think it’s admirable the efforts he has put forward to bring important causes to the forefront, to get people talking about them.

I do believe he has a funny streak and I’m ready for him to show us. Maybe a stint beside Don Cherry during a Coach’s Corner segment? Announcing a Jays game? Heck, even a repeat of doing the weather would be great.

I’m ready for people to forget the tampon comment, forgive him for the affair (because, if we’re honest, Diana was no saint herself in her marriage), and embrace our future king.

But I also believe he has a role to play to help us overcome the stereotypes we’ve associated with him for so many years.

It’s a pretty traditional tour when it comes to the itinerary, but that doesn’t mean this royal couple can’t have a little fun.