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The Queen is coming to town

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5f/Elizabeth_II_greets_NASA_GSFC_employees%2C_May_8%2C_2007_edit.jpg/210px-Elizabeth_II_greets_NASA_GSFC_employees%2C_May_8%2C_2007_edit.jpgHow about “The Queen on Queen” as the theme for this year’s downtown summer festival in Niagara Falls? The real Queen of Canada in the real downtown.

After a couple years of hit-and-miss festivals aimed at bringing people downtown, the Queen could give Niagara Falls a regal shot in the arm if she’d take part in “Queenfest ’10.” Queenilicious. Something like that.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are scheduled to make a royal visit to Canada in late June and Niagara, like a lot of other communities from coast to coast, is hoping to play host. The last time Canada’s head of state graced the Niagara region with her presence was 1973 when she visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, according to a federal government list of royal visits. We are not amused.

Peter Partington, chairman of Niagara’s regional government, formally invited the Queen to attend a gala dinner to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Regional Municipality of Niagara at the Hilton hotel in May, even though it’s more than a month before the royal tour is scheduled.

It’s hard to imagine what might be more fun for the royal couple than rubbing elbows with regional councillor Norm Puttick, who could regale her with his views on why Niagara doesn’t need so many economic development departments or lean on her to use her pull to get regional government abolished.

When Victoria, the great-grandmother of the present monarch picked Ottawa as the capital of Canada in 1859, the story goes she put a map on the wall, threw a dart and hit a logging town in the wilderness.

Niagara could use that kind of royal intervention to pick the location for the new Niagara Regional Police headquarters. The Queen could end a lot of infighting among her Niagara subjects by following that precedent. Of course, the way Victoria ended up with Ottawa instead of Toronto or Montreal, the NRP might end up in downtown Port Colborne instead of St. Catharines or Niagara Falls (where it belongs).

But after an evening of hobknobbing with Niagara’s political big shots, what’s the Queen supposed to do when that rocking party winds down at 8:30?

Well, Fallsview casino is just across the street. She could let the crown jewels roll on a turn of the roulette wheel. You’d think Queen Elizabeth’s luck might not be too bad at the government-run casino. She owns it, after all. The least they could do would be to comp her a free buffet. Or give the royal motorcade free parking… with a player’s advantage club card, of course.

Since the royal purse isn’t what it used to be, this would be a good year for Elizabeth and Philip to do the Falls. A recent study suggests hotel room rates were down five per cent last year compared to 2008, a trend that’s likely to carry on this year.

There’s actually a long history of royalty coming to the Falls, starting with the 1860 visit of Edward VII, back when the son of Queen Victoria was still the Prince of Wales.

Queen Elizabeth’s own parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother came to Niagara Falls in 1939 in an historic tour to rally Canada to support the looming war. That’s when the Queen Elizabeth Way was named in honour of the Queen Mother. No doubt the present Queen would not be amused if she saw its condition now and got stuck in summer construction traffic in St. Catharines.

There are now-famous pictures of her own

grandchildren, princes William and Harry aboard the Maid of the Mist, with their late mother Princess Diana.

Elizabeth and Philip should line up for tickets since this could be the last year the Maid of the Mist operates in Canada, after Her Majesty’s government in Ontario decided to make the operation of the boat tour subject to a public tender.

Their son, Prince Charles, made a whirlwind visit to the Niagara region last fall, taking a tour of Niagara College’s Glendale campus where he attended an invitation-only reception of its wine institute. Kind of high-brow stuff. And he skipped over Niagara Falls.

If the monarchy is going to survive in Canada (and if Charles is to become a future king), the royals need to get in touch with regular folks who frequent Clifton Hill. Queen Elizabeth understands the importance of mingling with the people, which is why a more casual visit to Niagara Falls is in order -a destination that both commoners and the upper crust have flocked to since Victoria was on her throne.

This article was originally posted on Niagara Falls Review

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