minor members of the Royal Family do yeoman service for the Canadian Crown in undertaking a variety of duties in support of diverse activities, bringing them frequently to this country on working visits, which are arranged and financed by the organizations they visit. A lynchpin of these homecomings often is their service as regimental Colonels-in-Chief. Activities on behalf of regiments are then typically combined with a public program supportive of events and causes in surrounding communities.
Together with the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke of York is the most involved of the minor members of the Royal Family in Canada and makes homecomings here on a frequent basis, sometimes twice or more in a given year. One reason for his interest lies in the fact that he spent a half-year as a student at a Canadian boarding school, Lakefield College, near Peterborough, Ontario, from January to June 1977. This experience provided Andrew a network of Canadian friends and a broad knowledge of Canada, extended during frequent holiday trips here which have included several challenging canoe expeditions in the wilderness.
A good many of the Duke’s 24 homecomings to Canada have hinged on his role as a trustee of Lakefield College (and patron of the College’s Friends), and from his interest in education generally, although they have also included engagements on behalf of organizations as diverse as the Empire Club of Toronto, the Monarchist League of Canada and the BC Children’s Hospital. The Duke is Colonel-in-Chief of three Canadian regiments: The Queen’s York Rangers 1st American Regiment (Toronto), The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Cambridge, ON) and the Princess Louise Fusiliers (Halifax); he formerly served the now-disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment in the same capacity. He is also patron of the Canadian Canoe Museum, the Canadian International Air Show, of the Royal United Services Institute of Alberta and of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.
One indication of the Earl and Countess’ commitment to Canada lies in the fact that they are the only members of the Royal Family (other than The Queen) to have appointed a Canadian Private Secretary, Christopher Carnegie, MVO. Mr Carnegie co-ordinates their extensive range of interests in Canada. These are manifest in the Earl’s 28 Canadian homecomings (on most of which he has been joined by the Countess since their marriage in 1999), and range from their five regiments to celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Navy; the Prince is also patron of the Globe Theatre of Regina. He also presides at award presentation ceremonies and other events relating to the Earl’s involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme, in which he has succeeded his father and the Programme’s founder, the Duke of Edinburgh, as Chairman of the International Council. The Countess’ interests centre on hospitals (she is patron of the Toronto General Hospital) and education (patron, New Haven Trust). She has also opened the Calgary Military Museum, presented the Ontario Provincial Police with its officially-registered Tartan and, with her husband, lent support to Habitat for Humanity and attended a reception tendered by the Monarchist League of Canada.
The military appointments which also often provide a central focus of the Wessexes’ Canadian homecomings include for the Earl his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (Belleville, Ontario), the Prince Edward Island Regiment, the Saskatchewan Dragoons; and as Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Countess is Colonel-in-Chief of the South Alberta Light Horse (Medicine Hat, Alberta) and the Lincoln and Welland Regiment (St Catharines, Ontario).
Famously regarded as the hardest working member of the Royal Family, based on the sheer number of engagements she undertakes throughout the world, The Queen’s daughter has made 19 homecomings to Canada. Some of these include engagements on behalf of international organizations for which she holds particular concern. These include the Save the Children Fund and the Mission to Seafarers together with the Commonwealth Study Conference. The Princess is also patron of both the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association and of The Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
She is Colonel-in-Chief of six Canadian regiments: the Grey and Simcoe Foresters (Barrie, Ontario), the Eighth Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) (Moncton, New Brinswick), the Communications and Electronics Branch, the Canadian Forces Medical Service, the Royal Regina Rifles and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
The Duke has not been to Canada in recent years, nor has the Duchess, given her withdrawal from public life. However, in 2006 the immediate family enjoyed a skiing holiday at Whistler. He is Colonel-in-Chief of the Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) based in Brampton, Ontario. Between them, the Duke and Duchess have made nine homecomings here.
A frequent visitor to Canada, with 10 homecomings, Prince Michael became Colonel-in-Chief of The Essex and Kent Scottish (Windsor, Ontario) in the Golden Jubilee year, 2002, when he made an extensive cross-country tour under the auspices of the founder of the Monarchist League of Canada. He and his wife, Princess Michael, returned together the same year to preside at the Queen’s Plate, Toronto. The Princess has also been a frequent visitor in connection with her lectures on porcelain and her promotion of three books she has authored on historic European royalty.
This greatly-loved member of the Royal Family has made eight homecomings to Canada, many in connection with the two regiments of which the Princess is Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (Toronto), The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s), based in Victoria. She is also patron of Friends of the Osborne Collection—a notable collection of children’s books housed within the Toronto Public Library system—and of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, a club with an extensive library of militaria, also located in Toronto.