Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Where's your morning suit, Mr. Harper?

SPEECHES FROM THE THRONE, like yesterday's opening of the Canadian Parliament, are important and prestigious state occasions, and as such deserve the pomp and ceremony traditionally associated with them. Ideally this means that the Queen, if present, is enthroned and crowned; the Governor-General is vice-regally sashed in the Windsor uniform; that chief justices of the Supreme Court are wigged and gowned (though sadly in Canada's case, no longer wigged); that speakers and clerks are robed with bar jackets, and bicorned or tricorned as the case may be; it means the Sergeant-at-Arms is adorned with the custody of the ceremonial mace; that military officers are smartly decked out in all their glory and honour: medals, scabbards, swords and all; and the sitting Prime Minister, the first gentleman of Parliament, is formally dressed in his best morning suit.

I can't remember when the last time a Prime Minister wore morning dress. Mackenzie King was the last to wear a frock coat and top hat. Diefenbaker certainly wore his morning suit, as did Pearson and Trudeau after him. If you didn't wear it at every Throne Speech, you certainly did following your first election as Prime Minister, and you certainly did if the Queen was in attendance. But 1977 was the last time the Queen sat on the Canadian Throne (see below, Prime Minister Trudeau wears morning dress with signature rose). Alas, the tradition of the morning coat has given way to a miserly political culture that is always at pains to demonstrate its frugality. Haute couture for the politician is to be avoided at all costs. For them, the imperative is "business as usual".

But state occasions are not "business as usual". They are supposed to be lavish affairs, their purpose and intent being to lift us up from the drudgery of administration, and to remind us that there is something at play here that is greater than our own petty and lilliputian concerns as taxpayers. Prime Minister Harper understands this, which is why yesterday's Speech from the Throne was godly in its invocation: "May your deliberations be guided by Devine Providence, may your wisdom and patriotism enlarge the prosperity of the country and promote in every way the well-being of its people." This is evidence that we still believe in the function of God, and His supremacy over all events throughout our history. But if God, King and Country are all in the room, the least Harper could do is dress for the part.

(Above/below: Prime Minister's Chretien and Martin dress the part in 2000/2004)

13 comments:

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

As much as I enjoyed the contents of the Speech from the Throne, I do wish the participants were more appropriately attired.

I really enjoyed your post on the installation of the new Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The return of the court uniform was great to see. I apologise for not being present when first posted.

Anonymous said...

One doesn't wear morning suit at 7 pm, a time designed to ensure more Canadians could hear the propaganda rather than meaningful public awareness of our institutions.

In recent years, the GG and PM at least wore 'short black directors coat".

A major opportunity was missed at the Opening of the First Session last year, when the ceremony was stripped of a wide variety of guests and any formality.

Does the GG even host a post-event reception or ball anymore when at least parliamentarians could socialize together in a place (Rideau Hall) that inspires a little national pride and non-partisanship in most?

A very disappointing turn of events.

Beaverbrook said...

That was me, Splendor, not Strathcona. Thanks for the kudos. You're right, the LGs do a much better job at wearing the part than GGs. It would be interesting to see if things get reverted back at all when a male takes up the post.

BTW, the last President to wear a top hat in the United States at his inaugural address was JFK. Reagan was the last President to wear morning dress at his inauguration in 1981. The Bushs and Clintons have done away with it. Dubya apparently hates white tie events. He wore it when the Queen visited this year, but I think that was the only one.

Anonymous said...

Beg pardon. The Queen does not have "taxpayers".

I agree, however, that the political class could use a good tailor or two. They're all starting to look like substitute teachers and restaurant managers.

No offence intended to any substitute teachers or restaurant managers who may read this.

Burton

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" said it... by the Wilkepidia definition linked to in this article, morning dress is not properly worn past 19:00. Given the hour of this throne speech the PM would in fact have been in sartorial error had he donned it.

A better tree to bark up might have been the GG's sartorial trunk. If the GG is to be "sashed".. well, she clearly was not. A discreet ribbon round the neck and a couple of pins do not a sash make.

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

Sorry for the confusion, Lords Beaverbrook and Strathcona. I missed the name of the author at the bottom of the article.

Anonymous said...

I believe Paul Martin wore morning dress when PM. I don't know what Chretien wore.

JJ said...

Martin and Chretien both wore the morning suit. Here's some pics:
http://www.filibustercartoons.com/martinclark.jpg
http://www.filibustercartoons.com/chretienclark.jpg

Harper is the first PM not to.

Prime Ministers used to wear Windsor Uniforms as well, Mackenzie King was the last to do that, I believe.

I often wonder what the various politicians will wear to the coronation of the next monarch.

Beaverbrook said...

Thanks for the pics, JJ. I've added them to Lord Strathcona's post.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous here.

Stand by my earlier comment. Can't wear morning suit at 7 pm. That said, Harper did not do so at the Opening of the 1st session of the Parliament when he ought to have.

I was at both openings shown in photos and I believe Chretien and Martin wore 'short black' or 'stroller' style, rather than morning coat. This has been the tradition for close to 15 or more years.

Still the major point is that an important ceremony in the life of parliament, the government and the nation has been downgraded to what it now is. And the text the GG is asked to read is appalling.

With friends like these, monarchists wonder who the enemy is.

Pidd said...

For a formal evening Mess dinner, usually timed at 1930h for 2000h Mess kit is worn by the serving officers and all other male guests are expected to wear black tie with miniatures.
I wonder, given the time of the speech, if it wouldn't have been appropriate for the PM and others to have worn 'white tie'.
I think that one of the reasons for the dumbing down of dress is that the office of the GG is little respected, as well as the place where the speech is read, and anything 'symbolic' beyond a Tim Hortons double-double with a cruller.
There has been a tendency to reduce Parliament to a mere council meeting.

Anonymous said...

Did Madame Jean's husband even wear a tie? I can't tell from the photos.

An American said...

Nowadays, we're fortunate that politicians still wear neckties.

As JFK killed the hat, who shall the tie?