Articles

THE FAMILY IN THE PALACE: THE FIRST TASTE OF QUEENSHIP

As Heiress Presumptive, her father critically ill at home, Elizabeth came to Canada to undergo her test of fire. And, after five wearing weeks of being stared at constantly, she left a noticeably happier and much more secure young woman than when she arrived

PIERRE BERTON May 1 1953
Articles

THE FAMILY IN THE PALACE: THE FIRST TASTE OF QUEENSHIP

As Heiress Presumptive, her father critically ill at home, Elizabeth came to Canada to undergo her test of fire. And, after five wearing weeks of being stared at constantly, she left a noticeably happier and much more secure young woman than when she arrived

PIERRE BERTON May 1 1953

In 1953, a year after Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne, Maclean's ran a series—marking her official coronation—by acclaimed author and historian Pierre Berton, entitled The family in the palace. It’s an intimate portrait of the private and public princess turned Queen. You can read more of the series here.

ON OCT. 8, 1951, a crowd of fifteen thousand Canadians stood silently at Dorval airport, Quebec, and watched a pale young woman in a short mink coat and teal blue dress step hesitantly down the gangway of an aircraft. It was observed that the small black handbag on her left arm was trembling and that as she greeted her welcomers she continually moistened her dry lips. Only by an iron self-control did she conceal how nervous she really was. Thus, under the worst of conditions, did Canadians catch their first glimpse of Elizabeth of England.

Five weeks later, under rather different circumstances, they bade her good-by, a laughing relaxed figure with a scarf tossed over her hair, smiling into the teeth of a Newfoundland gale. She boarded a lighter, waved farewell and headed out over the choppy sea to a waiting destroyer. Almost everybody else on the lighter was seasick, but not Elizabeth. She swung aboard ship in good fettle and when the captain asked her if there was anything she wanted she replied, “I’m famished. I’d like to eat right away.” Then, with the most exacting job of her young career behind her, she relaxed with a copy of the best-seller Kon-Tiki as the ship took her home to England. In between these two incidents she had traveled close to ten thousand miles by aircraft, train, limousine and destroyer; inspected twenty-four guards of honor, signed twenty-one golden books and shaken hands with fifty-three Canadian mayors, their wives and their associates. She had eaten Nova Scotian and Laurentian trout, Cape Breton partridge and Winnipeg goldeye, elk, grouse, wild goose and pheasant under glass, smoked salmon, caviar, sowbelly and fiddleheads. She had been given a ruby pin, a diamond necklace, a gold bracelet, a silver cigarette box, a string of emeralds, and platinum earrings shaped like dogwood flowers, a thousand-dollar cheque, a combination radio-phonograph, a Cowichan Indian sweater, a pair of moccasins, a box of maple sugar, a stuffed lion cub, a cowboy hat, a pair of beaver gauntlets, twenty-three official bouquets (almost all from little girls in gossamer dresses) and thirteen illuminated addresses all beginning with the words: “May it please Your Royal Highness.” She had pumped official hands at the rate of about thirty thousand a week and she had heard the National Anthem played about one hundred and fifty times. All across the country the twenty-one guns of a royal salute had thundered, and she had jumped quite noticeably each time they did.

She had, as expected, survived her first overseas tour, which, next to a coronation, is the most arduous and complicated piece of pageantry that royalty has to face. The present Duke of Windsor shook so many hands in his 1919 tour of Canada that he was forced to wear his arm in a sling, and in his tour of Australia he made so many speeches that his voice was reduced to a whisper. When Elizabeth toured Africa with her parents in 1947 all were sometimes ill from exhaustion; Margaret quite often dropped to sleep from fatigue before an important ceremony; and George VI lost fourteen pounds in weight.

The tour of Canada was Elizabeth’s test by fire. For the first time in her life the girl of twenty-six from the cloisters of Windsor found herself completely on her own. All the public decisions were hers to make. Though she had the advice of her husband and her aides, hers was the final responsibility.

Photo Gallery: Queen Elizabeth II: 23 visits to Canada in 23 photos

Those close to her suggest she almost suffered a nervous breakdown during the opening days of the long trek across the continent. It was not so much a physical strain as a mental one. The tour was in a sense a preview of queenship, at once terrifying and inspiring.

She arrived in Canada a badly worried young woman. She was worried about her father who lay ill from a critical operation and was far sicker than the public knew; she was worried about her own appearance which had been criticized (she felt she was too heavy in the bosom); she was worried about the strange new country whose character and breadth she did not fully understand; and she was worried about arriving in the heart of French Canada, whose people she had been told didn’t like the English. Finally, there was a crowning worry about herself, about her ability to do the job, about the mistakes she felt she was bound to make.

Her husband got her to bed early aboard the BOAC aircraft that brought them to Canada. She could not sleep. She rose again and the two of them went down into the bar in the belly of the ship and rolled dice. Elizabeth could not concentrate very well. Philip tried to teach her a game called “liar dice” which involves the purposeful telling of untruths, but she did not catch on to it. Finally he grinned and said, “You’ll never make a good liar with that empire on your shoulders.” Then they went to bed.

Philip Kept a Wisecrack Ready

As she stepped from the plane at Dorval she was taken aback by the wave of silence that greeted her. It was the first of many surprises in Canada. In England she had been used to the cheers of the crowd and she could not know that in this case the crowd was as awed and uncertain as she was. The Duke patted her arm to reassure her and she gave him a grateful little look. But her own uncertainty persisted as they drove to the waiting train. On board he turned to her and said, “Darling, you look simply smashing!” At this calculated compliment her face lit up in animation.

In Toronto a few days later she got her second surprise. She was to be received by the mayor at the city hall and she had expected a ceremony rather like the kind she was used to in cities like Birmingham, which is roughly comparable: a few civic officials in a fumed-oak council chamber, a glass of sherry, some careful small talk. Instead she found herself in the bright glare of an outdoor platform in front of thousands of people who choked the streets as far as the eye could see.

But, as the tour progressed, Elizabeth began to relax. This was due in large measure to her husband whose manner in the early stages had an ease about it that was in sharp contrast to her own tension. Normally, it was their habit at receptions to talk separately to groups of people, but if the crowd around her began to press he would move in closer as if to protect her from it. Once, when she had reviewed a regiment and was left standing alone with a hundred-yard walk to make to the dais, he sprinted fifty yards to catch up to her so she wouldn’t be alone.

It was Philip who kept Elizabeth smiling and relaxed in the tours through the cities. “I’ve seen that woman before,” he would say, pointing at someone in the crowd. “I remember her by her teeth.” Elizabeth would brighten up. Sometimes he would crack a joke to take the weariness from her face. In receiving lines, if she seemed to tire, he would give her a respite from handshaking by detaining the next person in line in conversation.

The limousines in which they rode were all equipped with radios and Philip insisted that these be kept on during the official drives. He had the radio tuned to the local broadcast of the tour and it became a game with the royal couple to see where the announcer was giving his broadcast from. “Bet you half a crown I can find out where he is before you do,” Philip would say, and Elizabeth would smile and answer, “You’re on.” Whenever they spotted their man they would wave directly at him and then giggle with delight to hear the voice on the air saying, “I believe the Princess just waved at me.”

The radio had another use. Neither was well briefed on Canadian landmarks, but they learned something about each area from the broadcasters who always identified the spot they were talking from. In close quarters, when moving from car to train or inspecting lines of school children, Elizabeth played another game which she explained later to a friend in England. “I always smiled directly at the announcers,” she said, ‘‘because I knew it would put them off.”

As the tour moved on, the two learned to talk to each other in public without moving their lips or changing expression. The Duke would lean slightly toward his wife and say something and her mouth would twitch. Then he would catch her hand and squeeze it. Sometimes, at official banquets, he would tease her to make her smile and she would give him a kind of bat with her hand under the table. She in turn teased him unmercifully when the girls along the route shouted ‘‘Phil! Phil!” at the royal car.

Before it was over they were working as a smooth team, signaling each other with glances or slight movements of the hand and complementing each other’s job in various small ways. When a child threw a bouquet at the limousine, Elizabeth missed the gesture, but Philip saw it and drew her around in time for her to acknowledge it with a wave. At the military hospital in Saint John she missed speaking to the oldest veteran. Philip spotted him almost in tears, walked over and talked to him, watching his wife all the time out of the corner of his eye. On the other hand, Elizabeth was quick to notice when Philip made a mistake. When he forgot to back away from the Cenotaph in Ottawa she turned him about and when he started to sit down prematurely at the Winnipeg ballet she told him, out of the corner of her mouth, to stay on his feet.

Through it all, Elizabeth never forgot the tour’s main purpose: to display the heiress presumptive to the people. In Toronto she refused to let the car move more than four miles an hour any place there were spectators, even though the official itinerary called for speeds of twenty-five. When she switched cars on the trip into Toronto from Malton airport, it was not because of the cold but because she thought people could see her better in a closed car with lights on. This didn’t work too well and as a result she and Philip asked that spotlights be placed in the open car. The operation was performed on a siding near the Royal York Hotel and the royal couple themselves sat in the car and helped direct proceedings, thus holding up the official banquet half an hour—an oversight that almost drove the chef to distraction for the ice was melting around his fruit cups.

It was at this point that the famous plexiglass top for the limousine was born. It sprang from a casual remark by Philip to his equerry Michael Parker that it was too bad the car wasn’t equipped with a “bubble,” such as destroyers have, so the crowds could see better. The words were hardly out of his mouth before Major Mance Berry, the transport officer on the tour, leaped into one of the Cadillacs and drove straight to the de Havilland aircraft plant on the outskirts of Toronto. He told them what he wanted and de Havilland, using aircraft tubing and plastic and working without blueprints, threw its entire stockroom open, worked thirty-six hours without a break and did the job. The new top was dropped into Winnipeg in time for the royal couple’s tour of the city and in the nick of time for the weather turned out badly. The idea delighted both of them who were, in the words of an army officer, “Like a couple of kids with a new toy.” The fishbowl effect disturbed Elizabeth a little at first. “Michael, Michael— how do I look?” she called back to Parker, the equerry, over the intercom. Parker, an Australian, was quite equal to the occasion. “Like an orchid wrapped in Cellophane,” he said, and the Princess relaxed.

Seventeen Policemen Were Waiting

The problem of being seen properly continued to occupy them. Philip felt that the security measures taken were often too strict and sometimes he didn’t hesitate to say so. In Winnipeg, as the car rolled slowly down the broad streets and the police held the people back, he remarked to Elizabeth that he hoped the crowd would break through the police lines to get closer. To his delight this actually happened. In Calgary, during the miniature stampede held especially in their honor, he asked why there were so many empty seats about them. He was told this was a request of the security officers. Philip frowned. “There’s no reason for that,” he said. Another thing that bothered both of them was the noisy escort of RCMP motorcyclists who hovered around the limousine. The sound of twelve engines, all roaring in low gear, was maddening and neither Philip nor Elizabeth ever got used to it. In Vancouver Philip was invited to an informal naval party at HMCS Discovery. He planned to slip down on his own, perhaps driving himself, but to his disgust found an escort of no fewer than seventeen policemen on motorcyles awaiting him. It was here, according to one fairly knowledgeable source, that Philip decided to take matters into his own hands and, after the naval party, picked up his wife and drove her on his own over to Sentinel Hill, on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, to look at the lights of the city below them.

By this time the western papers were commenting that the Princess looked very tired and that the tour was too grueling. She had seemed nervous at the civic banquet and Philip, noticing this, had leaned across the mayor and said quietly, “Come on, Betty, let’s go home.” She seemed more relaxed at church next day, where she sat not on the outside of the pew as Princess, but on the inside, next to her husband, as his wife. The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Rev. Cecil Swanson, gave her a presentation prayer book and as she left with it clasped in her hand she leaned toward Philip and said out of the corner of her mouth, “Looks like I’m pinching a book from the church, doesn’t it?”

It poured solidly with rain all next day in Victoria and the couple were both obviously relieved to begin a three-day vacation on the island. When they finally arrived at Government House at the day’s end Philip tossed his naval cap over the balcony, danced a little jig and cried, “Thank God that's over.” The Lieutenant-Governor had planned a ball in their honor but this was canceled. They had dinner and went immediately to their rooms. The following afternoon they drove to Eaglecrest, the luxury resort on Vancouver Island that was reserved for them.

But if a royal tour is an exacting ordeal for the principal actors it is almost equally trying for the stagehands.

Photo Gallery: The many times the Queen graced the cover of Maclean's

About the same time that the Duke of Edinburgh was tossing his hat in the air Capt. R. A. Pennington, deputy provincial secretary for British Columbia, a tall, spare, ex-naval man, was also registering his own brand of quiet relief. Pennington had been in charge of the province’s part in the tour of the capital and it had been no easy task. Indeed, for the previous six weeks he had been working nightly until 2 a.m. on nothing but the details of half of one day of the royal tour.

The first problem was the weather. Pennington got out charts and tables and found the odds were overwhelmingly in favor of a bright day. Unfortunately, at the last moment the tour had to be postponed a week because of the King’s operation. Out came the charts and tables again. This time it was six to four for rain and everything had to be changed. True to the weatherman’s promise Victoria had one of the worst days in its history on the blue Monday that the royal couple toured the city.

Then there was the problem of what to serve at the provincial government luncheon. Pennington did some research into what Elizabeth liked to eat and discovered she was fond of lamb. Then he checked the Vancouver menu to see what the neighboring city was serving. Vancouver was serving chicken, so Pennington decided on lamb and green peas. But at the last moment Vancouver switched to lamb and Pennington was tempted to change it all again. (He had already had everything reprinted once because of the postponement.)

Pennington received very little information from Ottawa and had to depend on the Princess’ secretary, Lieut.-Col. the Hon. Martin Charteris, who came through some weeks earlier on a scouting trip. From Charteris, Pennington learned that neither Philip nor Elizabeth smoked in public. Well, then, how would the luncheon guests know when they could smoke? Philip would produce a cigarette case and wave it and that would be the signal, Charteris said. He also told Pennington that the Princess was abstemious about alcohol but liked champagne and Pennington dutifully put champagne on the menu. And she was fond of orange juice. Accordingly, an entire jug of freshly squeezed juice was placed carefully in the Empress Hotel suite which she occupied for twenty minutes in Victoria. There is no record that she drank any of it.

The flying of the Princess’ personal standard presented a further headache. Wherever she went it was supposed to fly. But up until two months before she arrived there wasn’t a copy of the flag in Canada. Pennington finally got six copies made, but he realized even these wouldn’t be enough. He therefore had to draw up a plan whereby, as soon as the royal couple moved from one spot to another, a naval team would pull down the standard and rush it ahead to a new point. There were so many items to deal with: perhaps the Princess would go sailing at the Yacht Club. Then a royal pennant would be needed. Slickers must be arranged for at certain points in case of rain. (But Elizabeth, who also thinks of things in advance, produced one of her own in a becoming blue.)

As the crucial day drew closer Pennington decided on a series of rehearsals. Almost everybody who had anything to do with the tour attended these, including Premier Byron Johnson himself. Pennington still shudders a little when he thinks of what might have happened if the ceremonies had been left to chance. During the first tryout, when the pseudo royal car drove up to the Legislative Buildings, he discovered to his horror that the door wouldn’t open: it was catching on the stone of the first step. On the day itself the road was carefully chalked to show the exact point at which the front right wheel was to come to rest.

Then there was Premier Johnson’s injured leg. (He had been in a motor accident.) Pennington discovered that Elizabeth has a reputation for walking past honor guards at an express-train clip. The word must be passed along to her to slow down or she would leave the Premier far behind.

On the day before the royal couple’s tour of Victoria a casual observer might have noticed a curious drama being enacted in the Legislative Buildings. A royal reception was taking place, attended by everybody from Premier down to flower girl. All the people who were to be presented the following afternoon were solemnly going through the entire business in advance. Everybody was on hand except the principals and standing in for them, gravely accepting the bows and curtsies of Victoria society, were Captain and Mrs. Pennington.

On the following morning, with the rain heating down outside his window, a harassed Captain Pennington reached his office well before 7.30. From then until 9.30 the phone never stopped ringing and the switchboard clocked a hundred and fifteen calls into his office. Someone had lost his pass; what should he do? Someone had forgotten the time of the reception; where should she go? Most of the calls, Pennington noted drily, were from women: What should they wear? What colors were best? How far should their frock be from the ground? One man phoned to say his wife was four months pregnant and insisted on being presented in a Persian lamb coat; if she couldn’t wear a Persian lamb coat over her dress then she simply wasn’t going to go; well— could she wear a Persian lamb coat? Pennington rolled his eyes heavenward in supplication. No wonder he was as relieved as the Princess when this grey, wet, complicated day finally drew to its close.

Elizabeth, resting in her rooms at the Lieutenant-Governor’s home and listening to the British election news on the radio, could have only a small inkling of all this backstage clamor. Royalty arrives on the scene always at the last perfect moment to find the clockwork running smoothly, the gears carefully concealed behind the sheltering curtain of the flag. Yet she, more than most royal scions, is aware that there are gears at work. In the Auxiliary Territorial Service where she trained in wartime motor vehicle work she got a fleeting glimpse at the complicated mechanism of the royal machine. One day she found herself caught up in a frantic polishing and shining bee and when she asked the reason was told that the King and Queen were coming the following day. Only then did it occur to her for the first time that all royal movements are attended by this inevitable hubbub.

There were variations on this theme all over Canada during the five weeks of the tour. In Vancouver, one newspaper held its own royal rehearsal three days in advance, complete with limousines. Reporters and photographers covered this mock pageant as if it were the real thing. In Calgary, cowboys stayed up all night before the royal train arrived, shoveling away at the frozen earth in the rodeo ring trying to soften it a little for the bronco riders in the special stampede arranged for the royal couple. The Prince Arthur Hotel in Port Arthur, where the royal party rested overnight, spent ten thousand dollars renovating one suite. Modern furniture, Limoges china, a special chef and even an elevator operator were all flown in, and the window to the suite, which faces the railway station, was raised three feet to keep out the gaze of the curious. In Kapuskasing a chef kept making tea every fifteen minutes between the hours of 7 and 9.80 a.m. so that whenever the royal couple awoke it could he sent fresh to their room. In Halifax elaborate plans were laid to keep Elizabeth out of the well-baby clinic when she inspected the naval centre there for fear it might give cause to rumors that she was pregnant. And in HMCS Ontario, which bore her to Newfoundland, the crew was issued with rubber sneakers to cut down the noise of running feet on steel-plated decks.

Elizabeth was not aware until well along in the tour that the cars she rode in were not the same in each city. Actually it took one hundred and forty-four limousines— Cadillacs, Lincolns and Chryslers to see the tour through. They were spotted in sets of twelve in each of the twelve major cities. It would have been impractical and impossible to move cars from one city to another. The plastic top presented a difficult problem. At the outset there was only one and it was made to fit a Cadillac. In the end two more were made to fit a Lincoln and a Chrysler. The top took a minimum of eight minutes to adjust, which meant that as soon as the royal train came to a stop a decision had to be made on the basis of the local weather whether it would be needed. Then Elizabeth and Philip had to step off the train and delay proceedings for eight minutes while army mechanics struggled with the plastic top. By the end of the tour the royal couple grew fairly adept at these delaying tactics.

Probably the most elaborate preparations of all were those made at Eaglecrest, the private lodge on Vancouver Island where Elizabeth and Philip spent a three-day holiday. E. L. Boultbee and F. C. Sweet, Vancouver real-estate men and owners of the lodge, were simply called one day from Victoria and asked if they would entertain the royal couple during their holiday. They naturally said they would. From then on they received no instructions and were completely on their own. No expense was spared to prepare a lavish welcome. Flowers were imported from Seattle to garnish the royal suite. Orchids were chosen to match the exact shade of blond oak in the royal dressing table. Lilies of the valley scented the royal bathroom, where the toilet and facial tissues were powder blue. Chartreuse chrysanthemums, mingled with green grapes, decked the royal table. New radios were placed in every room and sterling silver lighters and cigarette cases were purchased for the royal household. But the gadget that delighted the royal couple most was a three-dimensional viewer with eighty sets of colored photos of Canada.

The royal entourage was preceded by sixty-five members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police whose job it was to search Eaglecrest for hidden bombs and other infernal machines. This laudable security measure was frustrated at the last moment when the lodge was alerted that Philip and Elizabeth would be arriving half a day early. The Mounties were put to work moving furniture and when the familiar procession of black limousines pulled up in front of Eaglecrest (along with three, tons of baggage) everything was ready, though the staff and police were all panting slightly.

Video: What is The Crown?

Both Elizabeth and Philip, who had quite obviously been fatigued by the tour, recovered swiftly in these sylvan surroundings. Far from resting quietly they seemed eager for strenuous exertion. They went hunting in the grounds where Philip flushed—but missed—a pheasant. They asked to go riding and horses were brought, but by this time they had decided to go fishing. It was late October and every boat on the coast was beached for the winter. Boultbee, however, volunteered his Nor-Craft and in this cockleshell the three of them and two aides ventured into the storm-tossed waters.

The spectacle of the heiress to the British throne and her husband adrift in a tiny single-engined boat in strange waters and heavy seas, with a gale blowing up, drove the security officers to a near frenzy. Officials raced up and down the coastline frantically but vainly trying to commandeer other craft as rescue ships. Finally they stood in a forlorn knot on the beach, waiting for the worst. Nothing happened. The wind died, the sun appeared and the party landed eight grilse.

Philip and Elizabeth returned to the big log lodge, played some Bing Crosby and square-dance records, looked at a cowboy movie and filled in the time pasting clippings about the tour into a scrapbook. Meanwhile a Canso aircraft was flying the six silver police motorcycles to Vancouver so that the next leg of the tour might commence.

The royal entourage, complete with plexiglass tops, moved swiftly back across the prairies. The worst day of the tour, as far as the principals were concerned, came on Monday, October 29. This day started at 9 a.m. in Port Arthur and ended at 11 p.m. in Montreal, and there were times when both Philip and Elizabeth felt they couldn’t get through it. First there was a tour through Port Arthur complete with guard-of-honor inspection, bouquet presentation, drive through city, address of welcome and tour through a grain elevator. Next came a similar tour in neighboring Fort William. The royal couple then flew to North Bay for a third city tour, with its accompanying handshakings. At 4.30 p.m. they arrived at Montreal for another round of presentations, a ninety-minute drive through the city, and a hockey game to cap it all. The next day was also hard going. They drove seventy-eight miles from 10 a.m. to 5.15 through dense crowds, attended an official luncheon and banquet and shook four hundred and seventy-seven more hands. For most of this time the waving, blurred sea of faces was never out of their gaze. Photographers and dignitaries driving with them had to close their eyes to stave off dizziness, but the two royal people in the leading car had to keep smiling and waving cheerfully.

There was a brief interlude in Washington, D.C., which delighted and puzzled Elizabeth. The press reception at the Statler Hotel was something she had never encountered before. Here, in a great ballroom jammed with reporters, radio, television and film men she found herself paraded about almost like a champion dog at a show. The U. S. photographers called her “Princess” and occasionally “Liz,” shouted “Hey!” at her, got her to pose with the bandleader, asked her to “hold it for just one more,” told her to stand still, walk about, move closer and smile, smile, smile. She took it all in good part. This was the only occasion during the entire five weeks in which she found there was someone else to look to to make all the decisions. From the moment when Harry Truman put a fatherly arm around her she seemed to relax.

Back in Canada there was a second holiday in the Laurentians and then the tour moved to the Maritimes. By now Elizabeth seemed completely at home in Canada. In the home of Angus Macdonald, the Premier of Nova Scotia, she sat on the edge of an armchair, dangled her legs cheerfully and drank tea. The crowds in Halifax didn’t daunt her, though the press of people was so bad that the fenders of her limousine became pockmarked with little dimples where hands had pressed against it. At the end of one day they were returning to the train and as the broadcast was over the driver moved to switch off the radio. “No, no,” said Philip, “there’s some square-dance music. Leave it on and turn it up.” And the two of them began to whistle and stamp their feet.

On Prince Edward Island a day later Elizabeth was presenting a cup for marksmanship to an RCMP sergeant when it came apart in her hands. “Whoops!” cried the Princess cheerfully. She seemed a different person from the nervous white-faced girl who had stepped off the aircraft in Quebec more than a month before. In the Charlottetown Hotel, as they were entering the elevator to go down to the official dinner, Philip spotted a woman spectator peeking between the bowed legs of a Mountie. “Good Lord,” he said stopping dead in his tracks, “a dwarf!” Elizabeth laughed so hard at this the elevator had to be held. At the dinner, Premier Walter Jones dropped his fork and nobody noticed it except the Princess who kept catching his eye with just the suggestion of a grin. “She was trying to get a rise out of me,” Jones told his friends.

Elizabeth had arrived with only a vague idea about this oldest member of her Commonwealth. She was leaving with the dossier of the country sealed within the filing cabinets of her memory. She had learned some new words. (One that struck her particularly was “gadget.”) She had eaten some new dishes. (She remarked on the New Brunswick fiddleheads: a special fern cooked and eaten like asparagus.) Some of the commercial radio programs intrigued her: she heard and laughed at part of the Charlie McCarthy show during the drive from Fort William to the Prince Arthur Hotel. Canadian liquor laws baffled her and she refused to use the word “premier” but called all provincial leaders “prime minister.”

The press criticism about the “striped-pants curtain” of officialdom that surrounded her on much of the tour did not particularly disturb her. She remarked privately that as it was impossible to meet all the people it was proper to meet their elected representatives. Occasionally, however, she and her husband were puzzled by some of the arrangements. The following conversation was overheard on the station platform at Halifax:

PHILIP: Well, what’s on the program today?

CHARTERIS: We’re going to an experimental farm.

PHILIP: Good. A day on a farm. We should see some nice stock.

CHARTERIS: (A little grimly) You are going to see a bunch of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and veterans.

PHILIP: What? At an experimental farm?

But the greatest surprise of all was the size of the country they crossed. After she returned home Elizabeth remarked on it again and again to friends: “You’ve no idea how big it is! It’s simply impossible to understand until you’ve seen it. Really!”

Finally, the long tour came to an end; the last hand was shaken; the last illuminated scroll accepted; the last murmur of appreciation voiced. Elizabeth worked an entire week on her farewell speech with her secretary, for she wanted to make absolutely certain that it sounded sincere.

This done, her ninety-seven pieces of luggage were loaded on the ship as the royal party prepared to leave for England. Womanlike, Elizabeth stood on the dock and watched all the paraphernalia go aboard. One could almost see her counting each piece. When the last trunk had gone she gave an audible little sigh of relief. The tour was over. The job was done.