Harper heads to Queen's big party 0
Prince Charles and Prime Minister Stephen Harper speak at the Fort York Armoury for the 1812 Commemorative Military Muster in Toronto, May 22, 2012. The Prince of Wales and his wife toured Canada as part of the events that mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee 2012. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper jets off to Europe Sunday morning to join other world leaders celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
Harper, his wife Laureen and both their children, Ben and Rachel, will join Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon in London for three nights as Canada's official representatives to mark the Queen's remarkable 60-year reign over Canada. Heritage Minister James Moore also gets to tag along for the ride.
"It will be a great honour to be in London, on behalf of the government and the people of Canada, participating in Diamond Jubilee events honouring Her Majesty's exceptional record of service as our Head of State and celebrating the special relationship between Canada and the United Kingdom," Harper said in a statement.
After three days of ceremonies, dinners and parties, Harper will do a bit of business at the end of his trip, when he'll head to France to meet new French President Francois Hollande at the presidential palace in Paris. Harper is expected to be back in Canada late Thursday night.
Harper is just the second Canadian prime minister to celebrate a monarch's Diamond Jubilee. The only other one was Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who celebrated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
In fact, in all of British history, Elizabeth II and Victoria are the only two monarchs to ever last 60 years on the throne.
Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, exactly 60 years and 118 days ago as of Sunday. In the long history of England and the British Empire, only Queen Victoria has ruled longer, for 63 years and 216 days.
Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, she was the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York (who would later become King George VI) and his wife, who was also named Elizabeth. Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was 101 years old when she died in 2002.