Montrealer Autumn Kelly marries into the royal family tomorrow, and the press’s reaction is as classy as ringette

Montrealer Autumn Kelly marries into the royal family tomorrow, and the press’s reaction is as classy as ringette

What is it about the Anglo-Canadian fascination with aristocracy that puts everyone in a flap at the first sign of pretense? When Conrad Lord Black of Crossharbour was sent down for thievery, Canadian and British papers hadn’t spilled that much ink on a single story since D-Day. And this morning arrives an e-mail from the reliably snarky Andrew Clark, The Guardian’s business correspondent in NYC. He begins in typically deadpan prose: “I am rejoicing at the new link between our two nations which will be forged at tomorrow’s royal wedding. No doubt you will be glued to the BBC World Service.”

There follows a Press Association report on the upcoming nups of Peter Phillips—11th in line of succession to the British throne—and one Autumn Kelly of Pointe Claire, Quebec. Forgive the length, but the cumulative effect of the paragraphs is particularly unsettling:


Canada, the birthplace of Peter Phillips’s fiancée, has a deep affection for the British monarchy.

Autumn Kelly grew up in a nation that still has the Queen as its head of state and where many people see the Sovereign as much more than a figurehead.

The country’s ties with Britain and its monarch are unique—the Queen has even described the nation as a “home from home.”

Her influence can be found in many aspects of Canadian life, from her image appearing on the country’s 20-dollar note to the fact that legislators, police and the military all swear allegiance to her.

Over the past 50 years the Sovereign has maintained a visible and significant presence in the country.

She has visited Canada 22 times—more than any other country—and during her last tour in 2005 received a spectacular send-off that was broadcast to the nation.

Big crowds turned out to see her and the Duke of Edinburgh throughout their nine-day tour of Saskatchewan and Alberta—western provinces that, at the time, were celebrating their centenary as part of the Canadian nation.

In Calgary, on the last day of the visit, cowboys and cowgirls put on a show of western razzmatazz featuring 2,000 performers for the royal couple.

The Queen is Canada’s constitutional monarch, who acts on the advice of the country’s government ministers and is regularly briefed by the politicians.

The Sovereign personifies the state and is the personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians. Elections are called and laws are promulgated in her name.

But not all Canadians, notably the French speakers of Quebec, want to keep the Queen as head of state.

And there are republicans who claim their numbers swell every time the Queen visits.

The marriage of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005 gave the republican cause a boost, the anti-monarchists said at the time.

Yet if you speak to those Canadians who are content to swear allegiance to the Crown, the main reason for their favouring the Queen becomes clear.

Often overwhelmed by their republican neighbours in the United States, the Canadians cling to the Queen because the monarchy is the one thing the United States does not have.

Having the Queen makes Canadians different from the U.S.

Andrew then neatly captured the thought any sentient Canadian would have after reading this: “I love the tone of it… He sounds like he’s an anthropologist documenting the culture of Kalahari bushmen.”

And what do the bushmen think of it all? If we are to take our lead from today’s A3 report in The Globe and Mail, pretty much the same thing:

Laurie Dagg, whose children have been good friends with Ms. Kelly for more than 20 years, said that if anyone can handle the pressure of being in the Royal Family, it’s her.

“I couldn’t think of a nicer person for this to happen to,” Ms. Dagg said in a telephone interview from her home in Canmore, Alta.

“She was an intelligent, very classy girl.”

Ms. Dagg said Ms. Kelly excelled at sports, especially ringette.

I don’t know about you, but when I think classy, I think “ringette.”

At any rate, leave it to The Daily Telegraph to find the telling detail: “[Kelly’s] uncle, Gary Smith, owned a strip club in New Brunswick called the Platinum Dolls Show Palace. It featured such delights as a one-armed pregnant dancer nicknamed ‘the one-armed bandit.’”

As they say in Paris, France ça sufit.

My Autumn Kelly tabloid shame [First Post]• A crowning achievement for a Canadian sweetheart [Globe and Mail] • Autumn Kelly, Peter Phillips’s fiancée [Daily Telegraph] • Canadian bride, British groom and a no-frills royal wedding [Toronto Star]