Majesty in Canada: Essays on the Role of Royalty

By Colin M. Coates | Go to book overview

Dreaming of the Princess:
Love, Subversion, and the Rituals of Empire in
British Columbia, 1882

R.W. SANDWELL

In late September 1882, the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne, arrived in British Columbia’s capital with his wife, the Princess Louise, on their first vice-regal tour of the region. Louise, the sixth child of Queen Victoria, was the first member of the royal family ever to visit Canada’s western shores. The city of Victoria, like many of the towns and hamlets on the proposed tour route through the province, had made lavish preparations for their visit. As the mayor of Victoria declared, “the daughter of so great and good a monarch, the Princess, as well as the Governor General should meet with such a welcome as would show the people in other parts of the Empire that we are not behind them in loyalty.”1 Summing up the fever of fealty that, according to the newspaper, defined the people’s response to the visit, the Victoria Daily Colonist reiterated on the eve of their visit the hope that the viceregal couple would learn that British Columbian “hearts … beat as loyally for Queen and Country as any in the widespread Dominion.”2 The press was particularly hopeful that the “beautiful decorations” on storefronts, the banners, the decorative arches, and the official speeches would be understood by the vice-regal couple as “evidence of the pleasure which all classes experienced in greeting the son-in-law and daughter of their Sovereign.”3 Regard for the Princess was so high in some quarters that when political tensions between Vancouver Island and Ottawa reached a fever pitch late in 1882 over the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, British Columbia Premier Robert Beaven suggested resolving the situation by inviting Princess Louise to become the queen of a separate kingdom of Vancouver Island.4

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