New Painting of Her Majesty The Queen
Rideau Hall, Thursday, June 28, 2012
My wife, Sharon, and I are delighted to welcome you to Rideau Hall, the home of the people of Canada.
For nearly 150 years, Rideau Hall has been an important gathering place for Canadians. Each year, thousands of people from all walks of life visit this house to celebrate excellence and to discuss Canada and the world.
Rideau Hall also acts as an important symbol of our history and values as Canadians. Today, we celebrate the installation of a wonderful new official painting of Her Majesty The Queen and impressive new handrails for the staircase in the main entrance.
Both the official painting and the handrails were created in honour of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, a significant milestone for The Queen and for Canada.
As you may know, we recently had the privilege of attending the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, and we were struck by the incredible outpouring of affection for Her Majesty. People were lined up along the river bank 15 deep, not necessarily to catch a glimpse of The Queen, but to support and thank her for such unfaltering devotion and enduring commitment.
One might ask: why do people hold The Queen in such great esteem?
For six decades, she has exemplified an ideal of service and dignity that we all recognize as rare and precious.
Here in Canada, this ideal of service, of giving oneself over to a greater cause, lies at the core of the country we love. By representing all Canadians and striving to unite us in common cause, Her Majesty appeals to the best in Canadians.
That is why The Queen, who is the human face of the Canadian Crown and thus the guarantor of our rights and freedoms, inspires our loyalty.
I am reminded of this fact when I look around the room at my colleagues the lieutenant governors and commissioners. Each of you uniquely represents the Crown in your respective jurisdiction, and collectively you embody the diversity and balance of our Canadian Confederation.
Together, we are partners in representing Her Majesty, and I am so pleased that we can all be together today to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
I am also pleased to share this day with Mrs. Bernice (Bunny) MacIntyre. Sixty years ago, Bunny, a member of the Royal Canadian Navy’s fledgling women’s service, travelled from Nova Scotia to London as part of a small contingent of Canadians participating in Her Majesty’s Coronation parade.
Six decades later, I am delighted to welcome Mrs. MacIntyre to Rideau Hall for this special occasion.
The new official painting by artist Phil Richards that now graces this Ballroom is an eloquent tribute to The Queen and to her dedication to Canada. This is just the third official Canadian portrait of Her Majesty, and I want to thank Mr. Richards for his artistic excellence.
The painting is full of details that trace the evolution of Canada into a modern state. For example, we see on the desk at The Queen’s side a copy of the British North America Act of 1867—the document that marks Canada’s birth as a country.
Other details abound. The desk itself upon which The Queen rests her left hand was a gift to Rideau Hall from my predecessor, the Duke of Connaught. Her Majesty also wears two Canadian medals: her insignia as Sovereign of the Order of Canada, and the Order of Military Merit.
We also see through the archway behind Her Majesty the portrait of a young Queen Victoria—Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great grandmother who signed the BNA Act. This portrait can be viewed at the far end of the Tent Room, meaning Rideau Hall is now bookended by images of Canada’s two longest-serving monarchs.
If you look closely, you will also count six direct light sources in the painting—one for each decade of Her Majesty’s reign.
And then there is a mystery in the painting: find the Corgis, the Queen’s pet dogs!
I am also pleased to inaugurate today the beautiful new handrails for the main entrance. These Diamond Jubilee Handrails are the result of a generous donation by Mr. Roger Lindsay, Rouge Herald Extraordinary of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Lindsay for his generosity. Your gift will be an enduring symbol of the Diamond Jubilee in this house, and a great support to all who visit Rideau Hall in future!
As we look upon this new painting and the new handrails in the main entrance, let us recall that this occasion is as much a celebration of Canada as it is a celebration of The Queen’s remarkable reign.
By remembering this as Canadians, we honour Her Majesty’s devotion to our country.