As a measure of one's devotion to the job, imagine being told by the boss to get on a plane, jet six hours across the ocean and spend three days hopping, every hour, from one event to the next in largely ceremonial duty to the head office. You must leave a trail of goodwill and enduring attachment to the mother ship. There's a promotion in this for you; nothing in the near future, however.
That would stand in, roughly, as the mission for Charles, the Prince of Wales, on his extended Victoria Day trip to Canada. He touched down in Halifax on Sunday night and heads home from Winnipeg tonight. The whirlwind tour of three provinces in three days is a feat of endurance: He introduces his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, this time, while smiling incessantly, shaking endless hands and issuing greetings to all.
They are also spending hours, privately, with volunteers, social services groups and with veterans and their families. The latter group is of special interest to Charles, who gives his attention and financial support through one of his charitable foundations to help former soldiers start their own businesses. In Halifax, they met with families of veterans who died in Afghanistan. In Winnipeg today, they will meet with members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and the Toronto-based Queen's Own Rifles Regiment.
Few Canadians will get a chance to meet the royal couple, so the trip may do little to bolster tepid support for the monarchy here. It is, however, a brief and subtle reminder of the country's historical roots, its history as a colonial product and the continuing legacy, in law, government and constitution, it enjoys as a Commonwealth nation.