... yesterday Margriet & Pieter's trip to Montreal got off to a rather funny start, when Margriet was given an exceptionally warm welcome by the Mayor ... I love Pieter's quip about the incident ...
From the Montreal Gazette:
Mayor's royal faux pas
Peck on princess pushes protocol
ALAN HUSTAK The Gazette
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
CREDIT: ALLEN MCINNIS, THE GAZETTE
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands gets a two-cheek kiss from Mayor Gerald Tremblay at city hall yesterday. A royal spokesperson said the princess was not upset by the social gaffe.
Mayor Gerald Tremblay welcomed Princess Margriet of the Netherlands to Montreal yesterday with an affectionate two-cheek kiss.
But bussing royalty is a no-no, according to Canadian protocol officials, and there were gasps as the mayor planted his kisses on the princess.
Princess Margriet was obviously taken aback by the spontaneous gesture.
After signing the city's gold register, Princess Margriet quickly left the reception room, forgetting to deliver her prepared address in reply to the mayor.
Seconds later, she came back into the room, a little flustered, with speech in hand. Her husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven, defused what might have been an embarrassing situation with a good-natured quip.
"You start all this kissing, it's easy for her to forget what she has to do," he said with a smile.
Once she finished speaking, the princess politely returned the mayor's kiss.
Later, Tremblay denied he had done anything wrong.
"It happened. This is Montreal! It was fantastic. She didn't mind. She kissed me, too," Tremblay said.
Royal spokesperson Hans Kemp told The Gazette: "I don't know if she was amused, but I can tell you Her Highness was not upset. She definitely was not upset."
One official with the Dutch entourage refused to say the mayor had made a gaffe. "To say that it was a breach of protocol would embarrass the person who may have breached protocol - and that, of course, would be a breach of protocol."
Others travelling with the princess and her husband said that while the kiss was "unusual," Dutch royalty is generally more relaxed about these things than other royal households.
The incident was reminiscent of one four years ago when then heritage minister Sheila Copps was pilloried after she kissed Prince Charles on the cheek, and then babbled, "Hey, how are ya?" To his credit, the prince did not seem to take offence.
Princess Margriet was equally gracious. The Ottawa-born princess began a two-day visit to the city yesterday designed to honour Canadian servicemen for their role in the liberation of the Netherlands 60 years ago.
"For many veterans, it has not been possible to join the extensive and moving celebrations in our country," the princess said. "My visit to Canada is intended to involve them in our celebrations and to express our everlasting gratitude."
Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa in January 1943, where her mother, Queen Juliana, spent five years in exile during the Second World War. So that Margriet would retain her royal status, the federal government declared the delivery room in Ottawa's civic hospital Dutch territory and flew the Dutch flag from the Peace Tower so the princess would be a Dutch national. She spent the first five years of her life growing up in Stornaway, which today is the residence of the federal opposition leader.
Yesterday, the princess inaugurated an exhibition, Dutch Prints and Drawings from the Golden Age, 1580-1660, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Among the artists represented are Berchem, Adriaen von Ostade and Rembrandt.
She ended her day with a reception last evening for about 300 invited guests aboard the Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp.
This morning, Princess Margriet will sit in on a symposium at the McGill University faculty club. A nurse by profession, she will then visit the Ste. Anne's veterans hospital.
Later, she'll inaugurate an Anne Frank exhibition at the Frontenac Maison de la Culture before going on to Ottawa to continue her tour.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2005