Why the Queen’s state visit to France is bad news for Canada

Our royal watcher on news of the Queen’s state visit

I’m hardly the only Canadian to have mixed feelings over the news released from Buckingham Palace today. As the only current head of state to have served during the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth II was sure to attend the 70th anniversary ceremonies commemorating D-Day. But this won’t just be a day trip across the Channel. Buckingham Palace announced that it would be a full state visit:

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, will make a State visit to France from 5 – 7 June. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness are visiting at the invitation of the President of France, President Hollande. On 6 June The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend events in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. On 6 and 7 June Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will attend State Visit events in Paris and be received at the Elysee Palace by President Hollande.

It will be the Queen’s first state visit in three years; she visited Ireland and Australia in 2011. She stayed home during the Diamond Jubilee and was going to undertake a state visit to Italy in 2013, but that got cancelled when she picked up a stomach bug so serious that she was briefly hospitalized. And, in recognition that long haul trips are too strenuous for the 87-year-old monarch, her senior citizen heir, Prince Charles, stood in for her at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka last November.

But there was always hope of one more trip to Canada, since the distances aren’t as significant as those involved in trips to India, Sri Lanka or Australia. As I wrote last May:

We’re a seven-to-eight-hour flight away, not the 22-to-24 hours that Australia is. In a move that augers well for the future, Prince Philip, who turns 92 in June, popped into Toronto for a 24-hour visit to see the Royal Canadian Regiment late last month. Whenever the Queen comes back, one this is guaranteed: the crowds will be huge, even larger than those seen during the 2010 tour. Because it could be the last time we see the Queen of Canada in her northern realm.

Now that hope is fading and the calendar is our enemy. Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are coming for a visit in May. That, combined with France, means our No. 1 royal won’t come this summer (they don’t double book No. 1 and No.2)  Canada’s rather inclement, changeable weather makes an autumnal visit unlikely. The earliest available slot would be spring 2015. She’d be 89 with Prince Philip 94.

That timing is possible, but it’s one bet I’m not prepared to stake money on.

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