Canada is in the Commonwealth and, even though we have had our our own constitution fully in place since 1982, we still acknowlege the Queen as our head of state - which means she is on our coins, our twenty dollar bills, and on special Royal occasions, our stamps. We have a Prime Minister, not a President, and a Queen's representative called the Governor General who resides in our capital city, Ottawa. The Queen calls Canada her 'home away from home' (after Balmoral Castle, I'm sure) and Prince William and Kate Middleton have taken us up on our offer to host them for nine days of their honeymoon tour. Of course, much of the country is pretty excited about that and many will even show up to see them in person.
When I was a child I watched the Queen's televised annual Christmas message with my parents and found I was interested in the doings of her family. My dad's mom, whom we called Nana, had a real love for the Royal Family. According to her my Great-Nana, who had come to Canada from London, had the same tartan as the Queen Mother, although I was never able to figure out what that meant to my family. My Nana brought us souvenirs of Charles and Diana's wedding when she visited one summer. We watched Charles and Di's wedding on television and when baby William was born, my Nana sent me a collectible spoon commemorating the great event. When I visited my sisters in Winnipeg the summer I turned eighteen, we went to see Prince Andrew and his bride Sarah Ferguson on their honeymoon tour. They looked like very normal people, and I was, I admit, a little disappointed. Perhaps I thought they would glow or something. When my daughter, Emma the horse lover was little, she saw a picture of Queen Elizabeth riding a horse and decided she was alright. Emma even wrote her a letter that said, "Dear Queen Elizabeth, I like horses, too!" Unfortunately, I forgot to mail it. I turned into a bit of a Royal watcher after my Nana got me started, and therefore, can be found skimming through Hello! Canada Magazine when in the supermarket checkout line or reaching for Majesty in the orthodontist's waiting room, rather than O Magazine or Prevention.
So, being the Monarchist that I seem to find myself, I was a bit put out when listening to an interview with an American historian on CBC Radio the other day, when she said to the interviewer: "So, I know you all have this thing with your ex-queen, like you all get excited when she's going to go to Banff of something like that."
The interviewer, Brent Bambry, sort of laughed uncomfortably and said, "Ex-Queen? Do you know something I don't know?"
The historian said, "Okay, your sort-of queen. But you must admit, the whole relationship between Canada and the monarchy is ridiculous."
Bambry quickly changed the subject, most likely in an effort to calm those listeners who were probably already calling or emailing the station to protest, and asked her about her recent book on the annexation of Hawaii (which once had a monarchy, by the way) by the United States. I thought the historian was quite rude, but more so, ignorant, about Canada's long, and in the words of our present Prime Minister Stephen Harper, "loyal and affectionate relationship" with Queen Elizabeth II and her predecessors. If I had been so motivated to call the CBC, it would have been to complain about their guest not doing her homework. As far as I know, our relationship to the Monarchy has never been the cause of any major strife, and in fact, the only reason my beautiful province of British Columbia is part of Canada is because Queen Victoria's governor James Douglas hopped to it and pronounced it Crown Land before the U.S. could annex it during the Cariboo Gold Rush. (We screwed up over Alaska, and lost it, but that is a whole other long story.) I know the historian interviewed does not represent the sentiment of the U.S. as a whole. Plenty of Americans have great respect for the Royal Family, and treated Lady Diana as one of their own.
Banishing thoughts of scornful, mocking historians to the recesses of my mind, I was wondering what title the Queen would confer on Prince William and Kate when they are married a month from now. According to my research ( ten minutes spent looking around on various royal-watcher websites), whatever title the Queen gives them on their wedding day, once Prince Charles becomes King, William will inherit the title Prince of Wales from his father and Kate will be Princess William of Wales, or something like that. In any case, I am looking forward to viewing the whole thing on television, though my family will tease me unmercifully for it. Able to partake in neither the Royal Wedding Fruitcake nor the famous Chocolate Biscuit Cake because my 1987 within-ten-meters viewing of Andrew and Fergie was not enough of a connection be warrant an invitation to Westminster Abbey for Will and Kate's wedding, I will most likely commemorate the occasion with a pot of Earl Grey tea and a plate of Welsh cakes, a recipe I found years ago and make a few times every spring for my family. Even if they don't care too much about the Royal Wedding, my family will enjoy the cakes, which are the size of a cookie, the texture of a scone, and the flavour of a delicate fruitcake.
I include the recipe for Welsh Cakes here, in honour of the future Prince and Princess of Wales, in case there are others out there who would like to join me in making them. They can be served with cheese, jam or butter or rolled in sugar when hot. They really are good! By the way, I won't be seeing Will and Kate when they come to Canada. They are snubbing Vancouver in favour of Nunavut, but that's okay. Judging from previous experience, I think I almost prefer to view my Royalty at a distance...or on TV. Will and Kate, best of luck. I'm pulling for you.
2 cups all purpose flour (not self-raising) (500 ml)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (125 ml)
2 teaspoons baking powder (10 ml)
1/2 teaspoon salt (2 ml)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (1 ml)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (1 ml)
1/2 cup butter, margarine, lard or even solidified coconut oil ( but you'd need to experiment with it) (125 ml)
1/2 cup currants (125 ml)
1/4 cup mixed candied citrus peel (or just the grated peel of a lemon or orange) (50 ml)
1/3 cup milk or substitute (soy, almond, rice, coconut, etc. milks) (75 ml)
1/4 teaspoon almond flavouring (optional) (1 ml)
Using large bowl, put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir together well. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in currants and peel.
Beat egg with fork. Add egg and milk and almond flavouring (if using) to dry ingredients. Stir into dough as for pie crust. Roll 1/4 inch (2/3 cm) thick on floured surface. Cut into 3 inch (7 cm) rounds with biscuit cutter. Fry in ungreased frying pan over medium heat, letting rise a little and browning both sides. To test pan for heat, drops of water should sizzle but not bounce around on pan. Makes 2 dozen or more if smaller rounds are cut.
Enjoy, and happy baking!
The above photo of Welsh cakes is from flickr and is also featured on squidoo, where more traditional Welsh recipes can be found. The photo of Will and Kate was taken by Ben Stansal and was borrowed from the Guardian newspaper website.