Grey Cup and royalty have plenty in common (really!)
As much as she tries to keep tabs on what's happening around the realm, it is not likely she will be on the edge of her seat Sunday, charting the fate of the some strange foreign entities known as 'Argos' and 'Stamps.' (Surely they are feuding tribes in some science fiction book.)
Still, she was apparently nice enough to send a note congratulating the CFL on its 100th anniversary. Though she is an ocean away, the 'royal' -- and royal-like -- ties to the Grey Cup are many (if not always very close). On this great football weekend, we're going to give you 10:
--Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey. As the Queen noted in a 100th anniversary message, it was Earl Grey who, in 1909, supplied the $48 it took to create the trophy that bears his name today. It was originally intended as a hockey trophy, but Sir Montague Allan beat him to that, so instead he put his name on the cup awarded for amateur rugby football. The British-born Grey was Canada's Governor General from 1904-1911, appointed by the Queen's great-grandfather, King Edward VII.
--Royal Copeland. Was there a better first name in CFL history? Copeland lived up to it in regal fashion. The halfback/defensive back won four Grey Cups with the Toronto Argonauts -- 1945-46-47 and '52. Together with Joe Krol, the Gold Dust Twins were a formidable combination and, eventually, Hall of Famers. His given name wasn't his only regal connection. Before joining the Argos, he played for the Toronto Navy HMCS York football team.
--Royal York Hotel. The 83-year-old Toronto hotel holds a soft spot in the history of both the Queen and the Grey Cup. It has been the residence of choice when the Queen is in town and has been the lobby of choice for Calgarians on horseback. The horse beat the Queen to the hotel, first planting a hoof during the 1948 Grey Cup week, but the monarch has since had a lot more luck checking in. (Though Marty the horse gave it a try again in 2012, right.)
--Queen's University. The Kingston institution, named for Queen Victoria, was a rugby powerhouse in the 1920s, winning the Grey Cup in '22-23-24. (No, the Queen did not attend, having died in 1901. Or cheer, that we know of.)
--Gordon Lightfoot. It took a long time, but Canada's greatest songwriter is finally part of the Grey Cup half-time show this week. The closest he came was in 1969, when he performed during the formerly-acceptable Miss Grey Cup pageant. Royally speaking, he was among the first group of Canadians this past summer to be awarded a Queen's Jubilee Medal for his work. Can't forget that he also been awarded Companion of the Order of Canada.
--Normie Kwong. They called him the China Clipper ... the first Chinese Canadian to play in the CFL. He won four Grey Cups -- three with Edmonton and another with Calgary -- and was one of the all-time great fullbacks. After football, his varied career paths led him to becoming Alberta's Lieutenant-Governor in 2005. It was the same summer that he personally welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the province's 100th birthday celebrations. Not sure if football was on the discussion list.
--White hats. One of the most 'Canadian' images of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge from their 2011 Canadian tour was the royals in their white cowboy hats that were presented to them by the city of Calgary. The White Hat Ceremony has its origins with the Grey Cup of 1948. At the time, Calgary mayor Don MacKay brought along 250 of his citizens to Toronto for the Argos-Stampeders clash. To say thanks to Toronto's mayor, Robert Hood Saunders, for his hospitality, he gave him a white cowboy hat. The look took and the tradition was brought back to Calgary for any visiting dignataries.
--'Prince' Hal Patterson. It was just a nickname, but Patterson was definitely CFL royalty. He split his time between Montreal and Hamilton in a 14-year career. The receiver had three Grey Cups to his credit and was voted one of the 50 greatest CFL players of all time.
--RCMP. The men in scarlet are never far from the Queen when she is in Canada, and nor are they ever very far from the Grey Cup on game day. This past summer, the Mounties earned a special place in royal history by replacing the Queen's Household Cavalry at Buckingham Palace as the official Queen's guard in London for a day. Come Sunday, the Mounties switch their guard duty to the Cup.
--Loonie. It's all about the money, right? The Royal Canadian Mint likes to cash in, literally, on big events by issuing coins commemorating this and that. The 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup is no exception. There are five million of the coins in production, in addition to collectable sets for each CFL team and a limited edition of silver dollars. What's all that got to do with the Queen? Well, guess whose face is on the other side of every Grey Cup coin?