Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothing

A profile of someone who has been in the public eye most of his life but achieved little of note isn’t a worthwhile subject

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothingPrince Harry is writing a book. Hmm. The crickets are pretty loud today.  All kidding aside, it’s true. “The Duke of Sussex is to publish an intimate memoir of his life,” the Daily Telegraph’s Victoria Ward wrote on July 19, “which he has vowed will be ‘accurate and wholly truthful.’” The book will be published by…

William of Orange was no charmer but he left a lasting legacy

Inspired the founding of the Orange Order

William of Orange was no charmer but he left a lasting legacyAs the marching season in Northern Ireland rolls around again, William of Orange (1650-1702) comes to mind. The memory of William – or King Billy – inspired the founding of the Orange Order almost a century after his death. Steadfast and stubborn in its championing of Irish Protestant identity, the Order remains committed to maintaining…

We need a better governor general. We don’t need to abolish the post

Trudeau’s proclivity for celebrity culture has brought shame to the institution of the Queen’s representative

We need a better governor general. We don’t need to abolish the postSince 1541, Canada’s vice-regal representatives have been lieutenant-governors, viceroys, governors and governors general. Vincent Massey, who served from 1952 to 1959, was the first Canadian-born governor general. All his successors have been Canadians, most of them well qualified for the job. After 476 years of vice-regal leadership, along came celebrity astronaut Julie Payette in 2017.…

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s Day

Sarsfield was the de facto commander of James’s forces in Ireland. The mission failed but his reputation for gallantry was assured

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s DayThis being the season of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish-themed column seems appropriate. And a recent news story provides a suitable prompt. Born between 1655 and 1658, Patrick Sarsfield was a dashing Irish hero. He was brave, patriotic and charismatic. And the fact that he was mortally wounded leading a cavalry charge at the 1693…

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

Queen Elizabeth must juggle her duties with her family responsibilities. But in her case, the stakes are higher and the scrutiny is intense

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crownThe House of Windsor is making headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. “The Firm,” as Prince Philip is fond of calling the British Royal Family, doesn’t look kindly on bad publicity. Ringing in my ears is a line from William Shakespeare’s play Henry IV: “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”…

Governor general an anachronism who can save democracy

While mostly ceremonial, it can still mean something very important

Governor general an anachronism who can save democracyThe embarrassing schmozzle involving our most recent governor general, Julie Payette, has a lot of Canadians questioning why we still have a vice-regal. Actually, the close brush with a self-appointed president-for-life just to the south of us provides a pretty compelling reason for Canada to hang on to the seemingly archaic tradition of having a…

Was Oliver Cromwell the Great Satan?

Some historians argue that the reality is more nuanced than the legend and that he played a significant role in the creation of modern England

Was Oliver Cromwell the Great Satan?When last week’s column referred to Oliver Cromwell as the “Great Satan,” my tongue was in my cheek. But many people do think of him in those terms. So let’s take a look at the man, his works and his historical reputation. Cromwell (1599 to 1658) rose to prominence during the 1640s. Starting as a…

The power life of a medieval heiress

The combination of Isabel de Clare’s inherited wealth and William Marshal’s earned status made for a fortuitous pairing

The power life of a medieval heiressThe teenage Isabel de Clare was a desirable prize in the late 12th century marriage market. As the heiress to substantial lands in Ireland, Wales, England and Normandy, she had much to offer. Both sides of her pedigree contributed to this inheritance. Isabel’s father was Richard de Clare, popularly known as Strongbow. He came from…

The Habsburgs: Rise and fall of Europe’s premier dynasty

They were canny, enduring and keen on expansion. In the end, however, the empire couldn't survive the First World War

The Habsburgs: Rise and fall of Europe’s premier dynastyThanks to a voluble professor of European history at University College Dublin, the Habsburgs first piqued my curiosity in the early 1960s. Then the interest lay dormant until a chance 2011 visit to the imperial crypt in Vienna’s Capuchin monastery. In operation since 1632, the crypt contains the tombs of more than 140 Habsburg royalty.…

Want to help Harry and Meghan? Leave them be

The principal issue is that Harry and his wife are not interested in, nor apparently have the resilience for, performing public duties

Want to help Harry and Meghan? Leave them bePersonal autonomy and the exercise of individual conscience are cornerstones of western civilization. We expect mature individuals to accept that personal autonomy includes embracing the consequences of independent decisions. We have entrenched these values in the canon, from Magna Carta to Canada’s Constitution Act. So when Harry and Meghan, the duke and duchess of Sussex,…