Third Biennial Gathering of the Royal Victorian Order Association of Canada
Rideau Hall, Tuesday, September 11, 2012
What a pleasure it is for me and my wife, Sharon, to welcome you to Rideau Hall this evening, the home of the people of Canada. We are delighted that so many members and medallists of the Royal Victorian Order could join us for this reception.
Allow me also to extend a special greeting to Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex, with whom we are so pleased to share this occasion. Their presence is a personal reminder of the devotion and care with which our Queen has served Canada and the good fortune we have with our unique blend of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. For 150 years, Rideau Hall has served both as a gathering place for Canadians and as a home for visiting members of the Royal Family—and so it is this evening.
I think it especially appropriate that we gather during Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year. The Royal Victorian Order and its Medal recognize service to The Queen, the Royal Family and the Canadian Crown, while the Diamond Jubilee celebrates a lifetime of exemplary service to others.
This ideal of serving others is one that this office tries to celebrate and encourage every day, consistent with our hopes of building a smarter, more caring Canada and a fairer, more just world.
As governor general, I am very fortunate that my time in office coincides with the Diamond Jubilee. Sharon and I had the privilege of attending the celebrations in London in June, and it was truly inspiring to witness such an enormous outpouring of affection for The Queen.
We were particularly struck by the sight of hundreds of thousands of people lined up all along the River Thames. With a crowd like that, one had little chance of catching a glimpse of Her Majesty, but neither that fact nor the rainy weather seemed to be much of a deterrent to anyone.
People simply wanted to be there, to thank The Queen for her constant, unfaltering devotion.
Here in Canada, one of the ways in which we have marked this milestone is by commissioning the new official portrait of The Queen that serves as our backdrop here in the Ballroom. It is an eloquent tribute, full of details tracing the evolution of our country.
I would like to draw your attention to one detail in particular: the portrait of a young Queen Victoria, seen in the background through the archway.
As you know, it was Queen Victoria, the great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, who signed the British North America Act of 1867—the document that marks Canada’s birth as a country, pictured on the wooden desk to the left of our monarch.
Now the quest—can you find the Corgi dogs in the portrait? And the clue—you must look very carefully at detail and think about a chair rising.
As you will see later this evening when you tour the residence, the original portrait of Queen Victoria can be seen at the far end of the Tent Room. This means that Rideau Hall is now bookended by images of Canada’s two longest-serving monarchs.
As members and medallists of the Royal Victorian Order, you have rendered exceptional services to The Queen and to the Canadian Crown—that institution so vital to maintaining the balance of our Confederation.
As The Queen’s representative in Canada, I would like to thank you for your remarkable service.
I also wish to congratulate you on forming the Royal Victorian Order Association of Canada—the only one of its kind in the Commonwealth—and on your many achievements over the past four years.
Together, you are to be commended for making this Order and Medal better known among Canadian honours, and for creating a sense of community among recipients.
In that spirit, I am pleased that each of you will have an opportunity to sign the Canadian Register of the Royal Victorian Order and Medal. This volume is maintained by the Chancellery of Honours here in Ottawa, and I am certain it will live on and grow as a record of this fellowship.
I wish you a wonderful evening.