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Posts Tagged ‘Manitoba’

Hanging With The Royals: Welcome to Kate’s New Life!

In behavior, culture, domestic life, entertainment, family, History, journalism, life, love, Media, news, women on April 28, 2011 at 11:25 am
Kate and Wills

Image by JeanM1 via Flickr

Very few people will ever get close to royalty. I did.

On my kitchen wall is the thick white cardboard invitation, engraved in gold, from the Master of the Household, inviting me to drinks aboard the Britannia, then the Queen’s personal yacht.

I spent two exhausting, fun, disorienting weeks following Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip around New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba as they toured Canada. I was then a young reporter for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national daily newspaper of record, and being assigned to cover a Royal Tour was the most impossible of assignments.

It meant producing front-page copy every single day on tight deadlines about….nothing! What the Queen wore. Where she walked during their walkabouts. The ribbons she cut on a highway to open it officially.

We were actually handed a small slip of paper every morning with the words we were to use to describe the Queen’s outfit that day, like “eau de Nil” (water of the Nile)….not light green!

The press pack was enormous and, on that trip for the first time, literally penned into a small enclosed space whenever the Queen actually did something, to make sure we would not disturb the event.

It was the most wearying but cool two weeks of my life as a reporter. My glimpse beneath those ermine robes, as it were, included:

the “purple corridor”, the airspace one must leave behind the Royals’ jet after it takes off;

The Detective, the small, short, quiet, totally nondescript man in a cardigan I met at the final party who is the Queen’s personal bodyguard;

her sparkling, glittering OMG-they’re-real jewels, from her baby-fist-sized emerald pin to her tiara;

the ladies-in-waiting and equerries;

the little semi-circles we were all formed into — like mini artificial harbors — when we were finally introduced to her at the Britannia reception.

So….what’s she like?

Frosty as hell to me, my dears. I’d written a few front page stories about her during the tour that she didn’t care for.

“It’s a pity we haven’t had time to read the papers,” she told me.

Right. Like a President or Prime Minister, she is presented daily with coverage, and the Globe’s would have been top of the pile.

The strangest part of my time around the Royal Family was finally realizing, which you can only see close up, how stage-managed their lives are.

While they’re warm and friendly when they choose, they are utterly unlike the rest of us, even the wealthiest and most poweful.

The Royal Family owe allegiance to no one: no boss, no political party, no donors, no fund-raisers or investors. They have courtiers and castles. The live in a protected, gilded, scrutinized bubble.

One afternoon, desperate for any scrap or detail my many competitors on the tour might not find, I peered into the car that was being used to transport the couple.

A small suitcase sat in the back seat with a large bright red paper tag attached that no one else could possibly claim.

The Queen.

One day, it will be Kate’s.

The Bus: The 11-Year-Old With With Three Hair Tools And Decapitation

In behavior, travel on July 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm
A Greyhound bus (bus type unknown, body number...

Image via Wikipedia

I hadn’t taken a long bus trip in ages. You all know why. The Greyhound bus can be really, really, really weird — not the vehicle, its occupants. (Maybe the Bolt buses between major Northeastern cities are cool and hip. Not Greyhound.)

I boarded the bus from Kamloops (interior of B.C.) back to Vancouver, a 5.5 hour jaunt, at 6:45 a.m. I had a jacket for a pillow, an Itouch with tunes, a coffee, a lunch, a book. I was all set.

Then the woman in the very back row coughed almost all the way. I was only four rows from the toilet, so there was a bit of that smell.

Two men sat behind me, one who kept repeating that he was 43. OK, then. His seatmate was 45 and decided to crack a joke about the unbelievable Grand Guignol that happened in 2008 aboard a Greyhound bus crossing Manitoba — when one man cut off the head of a total stranger aboard the vehicle.

(The joke he told: “Did you hear they rebranded Greyhound with a new logo? Where might you be headed?)

Yup. I was a little nervous, I admit.

My seatmate was the best, a lively little 11-year-old named Destiny from Prince George; her six-year-old sister, Eternity was two rows back with their Mom.

“So, are you going to Vancouver?” she asked. And….we were off. She was a hoot. She showed me the 67 (!) blond jokes on her IPhone, some of which we both shrieked at, told me her favorite food, and we loved the fact we were wearing identical clothing — a white cotton sleeveless top and black leggings. She had a yellow and pink manicure, with alternating colors per finger. (I did not.)

The morning was misty and gray as we began, the bus snaking along roads at the foot of hills so steep they had snow-capped peaks. “I’m scared. This is creepy,” she said.

“Just pretend it’s a Harry Potter movie,” I suggested. “Maybe we’ll see him whizzing through the valley.”

“Yeah, as if it’s green screen [she meant blue screen, but I was still impressed]. And his broom is mechanical.”

“How did you get to be so cynical at 11?” I asked. She shrugged.

We saw four rainbows, many trucks carrying logs or trees or wood products. She got hungry and I gave her one of my carrots. We snoozed, joked, and somehow ended up on the topic of hair care. She uses a curling iron, hairdryer, straightener. “I’m not wearing mousse today,” she admitted.

“I washed mine,” I said.

“You didn’t brush it?” she said, aghast.

“Nope.”

We finally made it to Vancouver.

“You were fun,” she said.

“So were you,” I said.

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