Oh to be a future British monarch. Not only do you know that one day your face will be on the front of a first class stamp, but you also get to visit some pretty swanky places. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka Prince William and Princess Kate, have recently paid a visit to Canada. The trip took in the provinces of British Columbia and The Yukon – two of the most stunning regions in what can be a breathtakingly beautiful country. I don’t have inside knowledge of exactly what life is like on the road for a royal, but I have been to BC, The Yukon and Canada on many occasions. So I have a bit of an idea of what to do if you want to get an alternative royal experience.
Experience The Empress
Prince William and Princess Kate’s first stop during their visit to Canada was Victoria.
The city was named after William’s great great great grandmother, and if you really want to stay like a royal whilst here there is no better place than the Fairmont Empress Hotel. The décor of the hotel has many references to that world, with imagery of Britain’s longest reigning monarch a common feature.
In 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales, caused quite a stir by dancing the night away in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. 20 years later, William’s great grandfather and grandmother (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) had afternoon tea there, and in 2002 the current Queen also paid a visit for luncheon. (as far as I know, ‘luncheon’ is just like a lunch, except with a Queen.)
The Empress even has former Royal staff on its books. It’s partnered with Darren McGrady, a pastry chef who amongst other things worked with Princess Diana for 4 years, so he knows exactly what to create to please a blue blooded palate.
A Garden Made by a Prince & Princess
Late 1917 was not a good time to be a Prince in Georgia. The Russian revolution was in full swing, and members of the connected nobility were distinctly out of fashion. That’s how Prince Nicholas Abkhazi found himself to be persona non grata in his homeland, and by the 1920s and 30s was living in Paris.
Here he met Peggy Pemberton-Carter. They grew fond of each other, and then, to cut a long story short, circumstance separated them. Any hopes of getting back together were further dashed by the outbreak of World War 2.
Both spent time in prisoner of war camps, but survived, although neither knew the other had made it through the war. Peggy eventually found her way to Victoria in British Columbia, and in 1946, a letter from Nicholas triggered a reunion.
Love blossomed, and so did their garden. It is now known as The Abkhazi Garden, open to members of the public. To Peggy though, it was the ‘garden that love built’. They were married, she became a ‘Princess’ and it’s all a bit of a fairytale.
A Royal (Tea) Cocktail on Granville Island, Vancouver
Vancouver is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s got everything, and that includes a funky little island tucked away near the city centre. Granville Island is home to artists, culinary geniuses and can even be reached on a tiny little ferry boat, making the journey almost as fun as the destination. The Liberty Distillery is always worth a visit, particularly as they have made quite an effort during the royal visit.
Lisa Simpson is the owner;
“We are super excited about the royal visit. We wanted to create something to celebrate their arrival. The ‘Royal Tea Cocktail’ is inspired by… royalty!”
And what are the ingredients?
“Gin, we all know is a favoured spirit in the UK. We also included our Endeavour Pink Gin, infused with local cranberries. Plus with Earl Grey Tea syrup we thought it was something we could call the Royal Tea!”
Drop in, try one. Maybe try another one. And as I like to say after I’ve had a few, “alwaysh drinksshh reeshponshibly”