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The Achives of Ontario Celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II: Behind the Scenes

Table of Contents

When the Queen visits, the public witnesses choreographed parades, flawless ceremonies, and galas rehearsed to perfection. But for every moment of polished spectacle there are hours of painstaking preparation to ensure that no detail is overlooked.

Opening the insiders' files is a bit like looking backstage at a successful theatrical performance. It serves to create a new appreciation for behind-the-scenes magic conjured by pen, paper and communication.

The insiders' perspective comes primarily from government offices such as the Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs and Offices of Lieutenant Governors. Other sources are the private records of premiers, lieutenant governors, and their aides.

The Insiders

The first order of the day is naming and authorizing a team of coordinators brought together for a single collective purpose. Logistics is the key to a successful tour and the government tapped into the military when appointing organizers to ensure royal events are timed as precisely as the changing of the guard.

A 1973 news clipping from the Ontario Public Service publication, Topical, gives a summary of the background and expertise of the individual members trusted with royal responsibilities. One prominent name mentioned repeatedly is that of Frank McEachren, who served as Chief Aide-de-Camp for six lieutenant governors from 1955 to 1982. McEachren created photograph albums and amateur home movies, now held by the Archives of Ontario, that document royalty from the perspectives of both his official capacity and as a private citizen.

In the scrapbooks of Frank McEachren's private fonds are three lovely keepsakes: an invitation to lunch on board the Britannia, a lunch menu, and a musical programme.

Invitation to lunch on board the Britannia, 1959

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Invitation to lunch on board the Britannia, 1959
Frank McEachren fonds
Reference Code: C 328
Archives of Ontario

Musical programme on board the Britannia

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Musical programme on board the Britannia
Scrapbook on the Royal Tour, 1959
Frank McEachren fonds
Reference Code: C 328
Archives of Ontario

Lunch menu on board the Britannia

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Lunch menu on board the Britannia
Scrapbook on the Royal Tour, 1959
Frank McEachren fonds
Reference Code: C 328
Archives of Ontario


Security is always uppermost in organizers' minds. Maps and timetables are drawn so police know where the royal party will be literally minute-to-minute. Very few security documents are available to the public but the Information & Privacy Unit at the Archives of Ontario authorized the release of security information surrounding the Royal Yacht Britannia, on the basis that the yacht has been decommissioned.

Series RG 58-12, Intergovernmental Affairs, includes a book of security planning compiled by the Ontario Provincial Police. Prepared in 1976 for the Royal visit to the 1976 Olympic Games, the book covers issues pertaining to safe passage of the Britannia from the Quebec border to Kingston.

Fifty-three comprehensive plans or "details" are included that cover every movement of the Britannia over a three-day cruise into Ontario and add up to a manual several hundred pages in length.

Here are a couple of details of note:

  • The Royal flotilla was preceded by nine police escorts, six RCMP airflow boats and three OPP skiffs to clear the passage of other small craft.
  • All equipment is listed and includes everything from vehicles to binoculars and scuba tanks, and communications equipment.

Related to the system of communications was a security code. Here is a list of some key security words for the 1973 event.

List of code words

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List of code words

The Royal Yacht Britannia:

According to the police report, the Royal Yacht Britannia was manned by a crew of 255. Launched in 1953, the Britannia was built to double as a medium-sized hospital ship during wartime.

Traditionally, orders on the upper deck were executed without spoken words of command.

The residential portion of the ship was a floating palace. The royal apartments included a dining room which can accommodate 50 for a state banquet and also serve as a cinema.

Photo: The Royal Yacht Britannia docked in Windsor

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The Royal Yacht Britannia docked in Windsor
Reference Code: RG 65-35-7-22-3, Item Xs 1919
Archives of Ontario


The Provincial Coordinator follows the lead of his counterpart in the federal Department of the Secretary of State. Preceding the 1973 tour, a gentle reminder of protocol was issued from F. E. Cochran, federal Deputy Coordinator of the Royal Visit in 1973 to Col. G. P. Marriott, Provincial Coordinator. It included the following advice on dress/address.

  • Long dresses need not be worn at garden parties or other daytime functions, unless ladies are specifically asked to wear them. Short afternoon dresses are correct.
  • Hats should normally be worn at daytime functions.
  • It is no longer obligatory for short gloves to be worn at daytime functions although many ladies will feel more comfortable with gloves; if worn, they need not be white and should not be taken off before the wearer is presented to The Queen or The Duke of Edinburgh.
  • If ladies are in possession of long gloves, they should be worn at formal evening functions.

Upon being Presented to Her Majesty

  • Her Majesty stands on the right of The Duke of Edinburgh. On Her Majesty's right stands the host or whoever does the presenting.
  • Guests approach from the right, husbands in front of wives, and the host introduces each by name once only in a voice clear enough for both The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to hear
  • Each guest bows or curtsies and shakes hands with Her Majesty, then does the same with His Royal Highness and then passes on. Ladies presented do not make a full curtsey but a half curtsey, i.e. the right foot is placed behind the left heel, the knee bent slightly and the head is held erect as the presentee shakes hands with Her Majesty. The bow for gentlemen is a neck bow and the body is held erect while the head is inclined forward.
Photo: Mrs. McKay curtsies before the Queen

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Mrs. McKay curtsies before the Queen

Addressing the Royal Family

  • The Queen is addressed as "Your Majesty" the first time, and "Ma'am" thereafter. The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and The Princess Anne are addressed as "Your Royal Highness" initially and "Sir" and "Ma'am" as the conversation continues.

The Royal Party

Guess how many people are in the Queen's official party.

It varies, of course, but for the 1973 visit to Ontario Place, the party included:

  • The Queen
  • The Duke of Edinburgh
  • The Governor General and spouse
  • Aide
  • Secretary to the Governor General
  • Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and spouse
  • Aide
  • Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
  • Aide
  • The Premier of Ontario, William G. Davis and spouse
  • Aide
  • Two Ladies-in-Waiting
  • Private Secretary to The Queen
  • Canadian Secretary to The Queen
  • Deputy Private Secretary to The Queen
  • Press Secretary to The Queen
  • Medical Officer to The Queen
  • Equerry-in-Waiting to The Queen
  • Canadian Equerry-in-Waiting to The Queen
  • Private Secretary to The Duke of Edinburgh
  • The Queen's Police Officer
  • The Duke of Edinburgh's Police Officer
  • Federal Minister-in-Attendance and spouse
  • Aide
  • Director of State Protocol
  • Deputy Federal Coordinator
  • Press Coordinator
  • Security Coordinator
  • Five RCMPs and their spouses
  • Provincial Coordinator
  • Provincial Coordinator's Special Assistant
  • Administrative Officer
  • Security Coordinator (OPP)
  • Press Coordinator
  • Assistant Security Coordinator (OPP)
  • Federal Transport Officer


Members of the media were strictly controlled both in the number permitted near the royal party and in the degree of access. For example, for the visit to Ontario Place, one car and two, 40-passenger buses were permitted to accompany them under police escort.

Specific instructions given to members of the media for the 1951 visit can be seen in a document issued by the Department of the Secretary of State.

Media Guidelines
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Media Guidelines

Previous | Home | Next
A Brief Biographical Sketch | Pomp and Ceremony, Decorations and Decorum
Celebrating Celebrity: Unofficial Royal Watchers | Empire Day | Royal Symbols
The Monarchy in Ontario | Behind the Scenes | Royalty in the Archives | Just For Kids