Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Royal Encounter

Last night, while the Royals were visiting Toronto I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to meet them at a swish reception hosted by Ontario at the Carlu. It was everything I'd hoped for and more. I think the monarchy is an important part of our identity as Canadians. And it was really nice of them to throw a party to welcome me back to polite society after my bout of flu.

Perhaps Canadian historian Jacques Monet has said it best: "... a king is a king, not because he is rich and powerful, not because he belongs to a particular creed or to a national group. He is King because he is born. And in choosing to leave the selection of their head of state to this most common denominator in the world -- the accident of birth -- Canadians implicitly proclaim their faith in human equality; their hope for the triumph of nature over political manoeuvre, over social and financial interest; for the victory of the human person."

If you have further quesitons about why the monarchy is a good idea in Canada, this site breaks things down pretty nicely.

I'd also encourage you to read G's blog on our evening. I think it captures firsthand an interesting comment on the importance of tradition, and a little bit of civility.

The only part that I would add is that after Prince Charles and Gerhard finished their chat, the Prince asked me if I was also an expert snowboarder. I said no, I'm a skier, like you. And then he asked me where I like to ski and I said anywhere I can. He told me about some mountains he'd visited in his day that he wishes he'd had a chance to go back to. Maybe after talking to G, he'll be inspired to head back there and try snowboarding again.

Without further adieu, here's G's blog. Original posted at

A Casual Conversation With Prince Charles About Snowboarding

Last night Prince Charles and Lady Camilla were making the rounds in Toronto as part of their tour across Canada and I ended up getting an invite to the meet-and-greet reception at The Carlu. First off, you may be wondering how a dirt like myself got an invitation to such a shindig. I mean my usual Wednesday night consists of skating the mini-ramp in the dusty basement of the SBC offices with Taylor Ricci from Ride, Matt Houghton from and whomever else wants to tag along. Well, as luck would have it, my GF works for the premier’s office so it was really an invite-by-association that opened the door to rolling with royalty for the evening.

The funny thing is, when the opportunity first came up I was pretty indifferent. It was more of a ‘Sure that sounds like to cool story to add to my list of, “Dude this one time…” But once I donned my borrowed suit and walked into The Carlu the feeling of indifference became one of ‘Uhm, I don’t know if I belong here.’ The place was full of politicians, bureaucrats and other prominent citizens and I was one of the few guys with facial hair and the only one with hair down to his shoulders.

Despite my unease, like any good journalist who gets invited to such parties, I promptly took advantage of the buffet and free drinks. A few ice wine martinis later I was feeling a little more comfortable with my current company and shortly after being introduced to St.Paul’s MPP Dr. Eric Hoskins I was giving him tips on how to shred since he hasn’t done it yet but claims he wants to (he confided that he can do some airs on his wakeboard, but then his wife leaned over and said he really isn’t that good).

As I continued chatting with the crowd, all the men I talked to said they too were feeling fairly indifferent about meeting the Prince. The feeling I got was that after all, how much affect does being part of the monarchy really have on Canadians anymore?

Then Prince Charles and Lady Camilla arrived. Almost everyone who was pretending that they were all cool two-minutes before started jockeying for position to meet the Prince as he and his entourage made their way around the room—grown men budded in front of little old ladies just to try and ensure they got their handshake in.

Once Kristen (the GF) and I firmly staked-out our spot I started to wonder what I would say to the dude. Really, what do I have of interest to say to the Prince of Wales? As Charles moved my way and extended his hand (which you’re only allowed to shake if he holds it out to you) I figured the best policy was just to stick with what you know.

“I work for Canada’s national snowboard magazine so on behalf of all the snowboarders in Canada thanks for visiting,” I said.

After a pause Charles looked at me and replied, “Magazine?...Snowboard?...Oh, well thank you. I’ve tried snowboarding myself but it isn’t easy to learn when you’re 60.”

I told him my dad still snowboards at 64 even though he really skis. I’m not really sure why I said it and I can only suppose I was trying to be supportive. We jawed a little more and that was that—in truth I was surprised he said as much as he did.

Later I ran into Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP, the Hon. Micheal Gravelle who, incidentally, is Matt Houghton’s uncle, and was there with Matt’s mom Susan (what are the odds right?). Minister Gravelle shared that he had also noticed how people changed when the Prince and Lady Camilla showed up and suggested that their presence was in fact a great equalizer. And I have to agree with him—no matter how high-rolling some of the people in the room might have been, when everyone lined up for a chance to receive a simple handshake like a bunch of giddy shreds waiting for the lift to open on a pow day we were--for a few minutes at least--all the same.

Houghton and Ricci: See you at the mini next week.

Posted: November 5, 2009 at 04:40 PM
By: Gerhard Gross

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