© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Wade Lynch AKA Queen Elizabeth chats with Anne of Green Gables during a celebration at Province House Monday night.
I have often quoted P.E.I. poet Milton Acorn’s observation about Islanders and their opinions. “The Island’s small…every opinion counts,” he wrote in the poem I, Milton Acorn.
The fact Islanders are free with their opinions was obvious this week during the royal tour by Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Popular actor Wade Lynch’s impersonation of Queen Elizabeth II during a Victoria Day concert staged for the royals had many people hyperventilating in their hyperbole. They were aghast for a number of reasons.
For starters, some had a belly full of bile over the fact P.E.I. organizers of the trip would hire someone to impersonate Her Royal Majesty and make jokes at her expense — in front of her son.
Since the royals didn’t fall out of their seats in laughter — in fact, they sat fairly stonefaced — many people felt they were insulted or felt uncomfortable during the performance. And lastly, the performance was not Lynch’s best. He seemed a bit nervous, some of his jokes fell flat and the skit went on too long.
But to hear some of the talk on the street and in the media, especially the social media, one would have thought Lynch had started the Third World War. It was almost as if “A lynch for Lynch” T-shirts were about to be printed.
Islanders love to be good hosts, and the mere thought Charles and Camilla might have been offended had the coffee shop chatter in overdrive, in addition to the online world and in letters to the editor.
Tasteless, insulting and shameful were among the descriptions given to Lynch’s tongue-in-cheek performance.
Lynch himself says he approached the gig with trepidation, fearing it sounded a bit tacky. One thing helping ease his angst was the knowledge his script was cleared by Clarence House, the official residence of the prince and his wife.
“If the actual Royal Family was offended, I am really sorry because that was never the intention,’’ Lynch said in a Guardian interview the day after the show. He thought the show went well.
Gail Shea, the MP for Egmont and Canada’s fisheries minister, sat next to the prince during the show. She felt Prince Charles took it all in good stride, as did Premier Robert Ghiz, who also shared a front row seat.
If I did theatre reviews, I would have to point out it wasn’t the talented funnyman’s best performance. On the question of whether the impersonation of the Queen should have been in the show, that’s a no-brainer — it shouldn’t. Everyone had an icky feeling about it long before Lynch put his wig on . Surely we could have offered up something more representative of P.E.I. culture.
Having said that, I doubt Prince Charles has lost any sleep over the skit. In fact, we should all be as easy going as him the next time someone makes fun of our mother.
But, c’est la vie. Everyone needs to relax; it was just a small skit, in one event, during an otherwise delightful royal tour. I doubt Prince Charles, now safely back in London, is plotting with the Royal Navy to reclaim Prince Edward Island and bring the former colonists back in line.
Rather, I think he is quite happy with his visit to our fair isle, as we should be.
Gary MacDougall is managing editor of The Guardian. He can be reached by telephone at (902) 629-6039; by email at email@example.com; or on Twitter.com/GaryGuardian.