Britain’s Future King – A Silent film of the visit of Edward, Prince of Wales, to Canada in 1919– Now on YouTube

The visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada in autumn 1919 was one of the first major cross-Canada events covered by the motion picture newsreels. Library and Archives Canada has preserved silent film of the event, including the film entitled Britain’s Future King.

Black and white image of three women, smiling in a crowd.

The Prince’s Canadian tour began on August 11, 1919, when his ship arrived at Newfoundland. It ended on November 10, when he left Canada by train to begin his visit to the United States. His Canadian itinerary took him to many cities across the country. Canadians gathered in cities, towns and villages along the route to see the Prince.

Itinerary from “Prince of Wales’ tour of Canada, 1919, a volume of photographs published by the Canadian Pacific Railway.” The National Archives, UK. CO 1069-286-7.

The visit had all the ingredients ideal for media coverage: an itinerary packed with photo opportunities and a public fascinated by celebrity and eager to see its community celebrations depicted in the newsreels and newspapers. Radio broadcasting was in its infancy, so it was up to the newsreels and the print media to report on the visit. In addition, Canada was in the mood for celebrating after the hardship of the war years.

Canadian weekly newsreels carried reports of the tour as it unfolded, bringing to audiences film of such events as receptions with First World War veterans, the opening ceremony of the Québec Bridge, the Prince laying the cornerstone of the Peace Tower of the new Parliament building in Ottawa, and a visit to a British Columbia sawmill.

The Prince viewed films of his trip while he travelled across Canada. Newsreels in Britain and other countries also showed film from the tour. Some of the newsreel companies compiled their footage into documentaries. For example, Pathéscope of Canada Limited issued two films, Britain’s Future King, and The Prince of Wales in Canada.

Son of George V, Edward became Prince of Wales in 1911. When his father died in January 1936, he became King Edward VIII but abdicated 10 months later. After his abdication, he was given the title Duke of Windsor.

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