Yesterday, The Queen and Prince Philip visited Canada House – the nation’s High Commission – in London to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, where Her Majesty is also Head of State.
The event has made news for more reasons than one, notably because the Governor-General broke royal protocol and touched The Queen’s elbow to assist her down some steps, and because of the new brooch given to Her Majesty to mark her sapphire jubilee.
As the royal couple arrived in their car, the children of Canadian High Commission staff lined the stairs waving Canadian flags, and Canadian mounties saluted as Canadian Governor-General, David Johnston, and Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette greeted the Monarch and Prince Consort.
Inside Canada House, Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh were shown a collection of Canadian memorabilia, including a hockey puck that The Queen dropped in 2002 to start a game when she was visiting Canada.
The Governor-General presented Her Majesty with a snowflake brooch to celebrate the 65th anniversary of her accession to the throne, which includes 48 sapphires taken from the first sapphire discovery in Canada in 2002. In return, The Queen presented the Governor-General with a leather-bound book commemorating the 150th anniversary of Canada.
The Queen smiles as she is presented with Canada’s Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch in this photo tweeted by the Royal Family account. pic.twitter.com/MPSTvND9Lq
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) July 19, 2017
I was pleased to present the Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch to Her Majesty The Queen to mark 65 years of her reign. pic.twitter.com/Mbd6JJ9AYy
— David Johnston (@GGDavidJohnston) July 19, 2017
In 1867 the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick signed a confederation treaty which officially created the modern Canadian state that we see today (other provinces joined at later dates).
A Canadian DJ, known as B Traits, shook hands with The Queen, and told observing reporters that: “She saw my [smiley face] tattoo [when he placed his hand upon hers] and I think she had a little giggle.”
The Queen also met Canadians Dean and Dan Caten, the identical twin fashion designers behind the brand Dsquared2, and Cambridge University engineer turned astronaut Jenni Sidey.
Part of the visit saw the couple view a display from the National Maritime Museum, which explores Sir John Franklin’s final Arctic expedition at Canada House, as well as items from the Royal Collection. One on display was the original program from the opening of Canada House in 1925 by King George V.
Her Majesty and her husband signed the visitor’s book before leaving the building, whereupon Mr Johnstone held The Queen’s elbow as she walked down the steps. HE later said he did it because he was afraid the 91-year-old might slip.
After the British and Canadian anthems played, Elizabeth officially opened a new jubilee walkway outside of the High Commission, where Janice Charette said that the Royal Family had been ‘integral to Canada’s journey.’
This is not the first time a public figure has been accused of ‘breaching protocol’ by touching The Queen; Barack Obama did it at the D-Day landing memorial in France, aided by the then Governor General of New Zealand. Michelle Obama has placed her hand on the Monarch’s back when they first met.
While traditionally it’s thought inappropriate to touch the Monarch, The Queen almost certainly thinks nothing of it. She is used to people doing ‘the wrong thing’ in her presence, as they get flustered about who they are meeting. Many people won’t even address her correctly, or they will offer their hand first, and she doesn’t think twice about it.
At 91, Her Majesty is probably grateful for the concern when there are no handrails on the steps (take note, future royal hosts!), and having met David Johnston a number of times during his tenure as Governor General of Canada. I wouldn’t look too deep into this, nor worry about ‘protocol’ – Her Majesty generally doesn’t!