|Queen Elizabeth walks past a gathered crowd after unveiling a statue of Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa June 30, 2010. Lafond's bizarre request raised more than a few eyebrows in Ottawa. REUTERS/Blair Gable
OTTAWA – Jean-Daniel Lafond didn’t want the Queen to bunk at Rideau Hall when the monarch visited the nation’s capital last week, QMI Agency has learned.
Even though Lafond and his wife Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean were out of the country on a state visit to China when the Queen arrived in the capital on June 30, Lafond asked that the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, find somewhere else to stay.
It was a bizarre request that raised more than a few eyebrows in official Ottawa, partly because Rideau Hall is, for all intents and purposes, the property of the Queen.
“It’s very, very unfortunate,” said Robert Finch, dominion chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada. “I’m just amazed and puzzled at how the spouse of the Queen’s representative in Canada would have the gall to put up a fuss about the Queen staying in her own residence. It is her residence, after all.”
Lafond gets to live at Rideau Hall — and be addressed as His Excellency — because he is the spouse of the governor general who is the Queen’s representative in Canada.
Jean apparently had nothing to do with Lafond’s odd request.
The Queen has bedded down at Rideau Hall any other time she’s ever visited Ottawa, beginning in 1951 when she was then Princess Elizabeth.
Lafond’s request for the Queen to find a bed at a downtown hotel was ignored and she is understood to have spent three nights in Government House, the official name for Rideau Hall.
Jean’s staff refused comment on the royal residency, citing security concerns.
It’s the latest — and possibly last — eyebrow-raiser involving Lafond, whose early associations and apparent sympathy for Quebec separatists caused more than a little concern when he first arrived at Rideau Hall in 2005 after former prime minister Paul Martin made Jean the governor general.
Jean and Lafond will end their tenure at Rideau Hall later this summer. She will become a special envoy to Haiti for the United Nations.
The 107-room Rideau Hall has been the official residence of the governor general since 1867.