For someone who grew up in the Dominion of Canada, with one set of grandparents who emigrated from England, I grew up in an antimonarchist family. My parents loathed the idea of the constitutional monarchy,Britain’s pseudo-official presence in Canada, and the damn corgis. My grandmother, Margaret Banister Leyland, the pride of Burnley, Lancs., had particular scorn for the late Queen Mum – “Silly bitch.” Take that Helena Bonham Carter!
My school handed us tiny Union Jacks and trucked us to the track of the Semenaire St-Joseph to watch the newly crowned, young and lovely Elizabeth II drive around the playing field in an open car, the dashing Prince Phillip beside her. So strange: I can remember the experience clearly, but it replays in my mind in black and white. I have seen the Queen, and I didn’t need to go to Buckingham Palace with Alice.
I agree in principle with my parents: The British can keep their monarchy, but Canada should tell them to bug out.
So I’m embarrassed by my fondness for Royalty kitsch. I want William and Kate tea towels, tea cups, egg cups, aprons(!) placemats. Heck, shower caps. Because they seem like an unaffected young couple, and because they’re doing a smashing job at their first official visit, in Canada, I wished I was hitting all the tacky souvenir shops on Sparks Street in Ottawa, hoovering up every trinket.
Have I mentioned that I’m a collector? I have so many rag tag collections that I’ll write about them in other blog posts. But today, watching the charming Duchess of Cambridge aceing her first official walkabout in Ottawa, I remembered a tenth of my sterling silver tea and coffee spoon collection, not those from the Columbian Exposition (another standalone collection) or small towns all over the USA and Canada.
My royal sterling collection! These weren’t dead cheap when I bought them, but I was in a royalty souvenir trance and, besides, I’m crazy about them. Most of them were made by Birks,Canada’s great silversmith, who if it’s smart, will be churning out Will and Kate teaspoons.
Voila! And be patient with my lousy photography.
I have two sets of George VI/ Queen Mum spoons
It must be swell to have a throne. These are prettier, and heavier than my crappy photography can imply. They’re ice cream spoons.
These are demitasse size, and bear dates. The one on the left:”Crowned May 12 1937.” The one on the right: “George VI and Queen Elizabeth Canada 1939.”
This sugar shell is my favourite because it’s flat out gorgeous from its fluted bowl to the chased handle that celebrates the rose, the thistle, the shamrock and the daffodil, the floral emblems of her dominion in the British Isles. Gee , I wish I could take a decent picture. The writing, down the handle of the spoon, reads: To commenerate the Coronation, June 2nd, 1951.”
But this funky old spoon, coin silver plated ,( which is rotten, because coin silver is pure, soft and likely to be stripped down to its base metal) is old. As it is here, poor spoon. But, if you can make it out, this spoon honors Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, 1902. Brings out all my “Forsythe Saga” “Duchess of Duke Street” nostalgia.
Hey, I’ll make some of my fab frozen yog and lay in some cheap prosecco. Let’s dig in, with royal spoons. Just show up.