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Whom would you invite to reopen a high commission? The Queen. Duh.

Canada House, our faded diplomatic representation in London, gets a spit-shine, and a visit from Queen Elizabeth II


 
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh arrive to officially reopen Canada House following an extensive programme of restoration and refurbishmenton February 19, 2015. in London, England.  Canada House is the official home to the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom. The building was first opened in 1925 by King George V. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Getty Images)

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, arrive on Thursday to officially reopen Canada House in London following an extensive programme of restoration and refurbishment. Canada House is the official home to the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom. The building was first opened in 1925 by King George V. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Getty Images)

For decades, Canada House has been a dreary, dirty diplomatic representation of Canada in London. Faded flags hung lifeless from its grimy facade. It was an embarrassment, for the high commission building isn’t tucked away in a suburb, but occupies one of the best locations in London—Trafalgar Square. Tourists would look around the square, admiring the unified 1820s architecture of the area, especially the National Gallery, then skip over Canada House.

Now, finally, it’s been spit-and-polished clean. It comes after a big reordering of Canada’s diplomatic corps in the city. The building in Grosvenor Square was sold for around $600 million, another building was bought close to Canada House, and everything was gussied up. In December, staff moved back into Canada House, marking the first time in more than 50 years that all the diplomats are under one roof.

And now, 90 years after her grandparents, George V and Queen Mary, first opened Canada House in 1925, the current sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, has come to Trafalgar Square to reopen the renovated building. Sure, she got stuck in a traffic jam on her way to the building, but, once there, it was all business as usual. There were Mounties everywhere, including a few on horseback, as well as a flotilla of politicians and diplomats. Knowing Canada’s love of all things red, she wore blue, so as to not vanish into the background of red serge. And of course, she got an obligatory gift: a gold key, similar to one given to her grandparents.

 

 

 

 


 

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