Canadian brute breaks protocol, touches the Queen… by helping her down stairs

Her Majesty The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, visit Canada House to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation

A few days ago, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Canada House in London to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, which is basically Canada’s version of the Fourth of July. As you can see, even though the Queen did not do a Cambridge-esque theme dress (which would have been red for Canada), she looked rather adorable in a printed skirt, clean white blazer and a diamond maple leaf brooch. That blue hat is rather divine as well!

Anyway, the Queen also attended the celebration with the Governor General of Canada, a man by the name of David Johnston. David Johnston TOUCHED THE QUEEN. As the group left Canada House, Johnston lightly took the Queen’s arm as if to provide a little extra support as they went down the stairs. Here’s the photo:

Her Majesty The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, visit Canada House to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation

There was outrage about this because how dare this Canadian brute touch Britain’s precious Queen?!?! No one is allowed to touch the Queen! Except that it was all fine. Johnston actually had to release a statement about it, explaining his choice: “I was just anxious to be sure there was no stumbling on the steps. It’s a little bit awkward, that descent from Canada House to Trafalgar Square, and there was carpet that was a little slippy, and so I thought perhaps it was appropriate to breach protocol just to be sure that there was no stumble.” I have to help my mom up and down stairs too, but you know what she prefers? She prefers to hold on to me, rather than me putting my hand on her arm. I’m just saying, if the Queen needed help, she would have reached out and steadied herself on whoever was around. Then again, QEII is 91 and I’m sure no one wants her to take a tumble on their watch.

During Michelle and Barack Obama’s first visit to Britain, back in 2009, it was widely reported that Michelle Obama “broke protocol” by putting her arm around the Queen’s shoulder. People later realized that the Queen broke protocol first, when she put her hand on Michelle’s back briefly, and Michelle responded by putting her arm around the Queen protectively. It was actually a really sweet moment. God, I hope the Trumps never meet QEII. Imagine all of the protocols which will be broken.

Her Majesty The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, visit Canada House to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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91 Responses to “Canadian brute breaks protocol, touches the Queen… by helping her down stairs”

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  1. swak says:

    He would have been crucified if she would have tumbled or even tripped without falling. Sorry, better safe than sorry. I’m sure the queen did not mind.

    • Nicole says:

      Yea and I’m sure sane people realize this. A fall would be awful so he did the right thing. The Queen occasionally breaks protocol as well

      • Seraphina says:

        Correct, a fall at that age would be terrible. Usually, a fall is the beginning of the end. I’ve seen too many people (over the age of 75) take a fall, break something and then it’s a steady decline. I would have broken protocol as well – for ANYONE!!!

      • imqrious2 says:

        My very stubborn almost 90 year old dad took a fall 3 months ago. He *refused* to sit down while changing clothes, and he took a tumble, breaking his wrist pretty badly, as well as gouging the other hand on the handle of the dresser he was next to (needed 10 stitches to close the skin that is as thin as tissue paper). We are *still* dealing with the effects of the fall (and he’s still in a splint). Dr. says it could take a full 6-9 months for the bone to heal, and he may not have full function in it. In some ways, I think it finally got through to him that he’s not a spring chicken, and then he goes and forgets to sit while changing again…sigh!

        I find that *I* get more peace of mind holding onto his arm while walking, so if he stumbles (as he walks with a cane due to a bad foot/back), I can keep him from falling more readily than I could if he was just holding onto me. I wish he’d be open to using a walker, but God forbid he might look “old”.

      • bluhare says:

        That was my dad. He wouldn’t use a walker either; but he would use a cane. He fell a few times; luckily did not break any bones, but he did have a head injury. Getting old is hard.

    • astrid says:


  2. godwina says:

    Gawd. CBC Radio reported this with the biggest audio eyeroll ever. They also pointed out that Never Touch Queen isn’t a law or rule (just etiquette). Could be because I’m not a monarchist or care two squats about our GGs, nor stand much on ceremony, but yeah, this is so out of touch and out of whack. Elderly person needs help down the stairs. Good for him.

    • Erinn says:

      This. It’s such a non-story. Plus – look at that skirt. It’s more fitted near the knees- a little extra support while moving downstairs was likely appreciated.

    • LAK says:

      As with many royal rules, It’s protocol rather than law.

      Like Curtseying to HM.

  3. Jenns says:

    I love how at 91, even in high heels, the Queen can get around without any assistance.

    But Mariah Carey needs five people to hold her up at all times.

    • HK9 says:

      The ‘weight’ of Mariah’s ‘talent’ is unparalleled,

    • BeamMeUpScottie says:

      DWL! That’s a good one.

    • doofus says:

      she is an impressive woman, to be sure. and quite the firecracker in her youth, from what I understand.

      I hope I can still walk at 91, never mind dressed fancy and in heels!

  4. HK9 says:

    I think he did the right thing and I love that hat!!

  5. Torontoe says:

    The way she is staring completely down at the stairs in the second photo makes it seem like she also was hesitant wrt the stairs. Your mom reaches out to you if she wants help but would it be different with strangers, surrounded by media and if she spent 90 years with these ridiculous rules that you can’t touch commoners? Good grief. I think our GG was being polite and concerned for the welfare of another. Also the 4th of July happens every year while a 150th birthday does not. Happy birthday Canada! Thankful every day to live here!!

    • Sarah says:

      I agree. Thise steps look odd, the carpet looks like it isn’t stable, There is no rail. At 55, I would not like those steps! In heels?? Hahahah!
      If she had fallen and was laying on the bottom with a broken hip? THAT would have been a problem. Human kindness is never a problem.

      • Susanne says:

        There is no way I could keep my hands off a 90 year old person walking down a flight of stairs. Though I do agree that folks usually prefer an arm offered. It feels safer for them. Basic human instinct to care for the elders.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Susanne, I would have reached out too just to make sure. She’s not as steady as she used to be. The woman in blue (Johnston’s wife?) is also reaching out to steady her.

        Charles took over for her with a big event last year, because walking down steps backwards in heels and massive outfit was too much for her.

      • mar_time says:

        Agreed Sarah!! Human kindness is never a problem…those steps look very little, I’d be intimidated at 32 much less 90

    • Lightpurple says:

      There is no railing. A fall at her age could be devastating, even fatal. He did the right thing and she doesn’t seem to mind. She didn’t bristle, pull away or react like Angela Merkel to GWB’s back rub.

      I share my home with an 88 year old great aunt. Elders often do need a little support. My advice though is to ask. My aunt tells me it is better if she take my arm than if I take hers. But this man was simply acting on instinct and decency.

  6. Carla says:

    I just wanted to say I love her ensemble here. The Queen kicks Duchess bootay sartorially without even trying.

  7. littlemissnaughty says:

    Wow. Calm down, the day isn’t over. His death is terrible but CB doesn’t owe you a post about it.

    My parents are a bit wobbly at times as well and I’m probably more nervous about it than they are so I get why someone would be concerned about a lady in her 90s going down carpeted stairs. Also, I honestly doubt the Queen would reach for a random person. Has she ever? I just don’t see it.

    ETA: Whoops, the original post I replied to vanished?

  8. doofus says:

    the day ain’t over yet; perhaps another post is forthcoming?

    nobody said his death is unimportant.

    simma down now.

    ETA: this was responding to a post that’s now deleted…moderators, feel free to delete this one, too.

  9. Mermaid says:

    I love the Queen and her fashion choices the past 5 years or so have been spot on. I pray this woman is spared the horror of meeting Trump. Remember he wanted the golden carriage ride with her? Can you imagine the protests along the way?

    • LAK says:

      Trump is a nothing compared to some of the horrors she’s been compelled to meet.

      • Elaine says:

        EXACTLY. The Queen has to meet brutal dictators so cartoony evil they might as well wear capes and twirl pointy moustaches

        …and she has to smile politely the whole
        time. ‘Tis her job. And why she’s worth her weight in tiny-Queen gold.

    • teacakes says:

      @Mermaid – the thought of the protests is precisely the reason he postponed his visit, lol. Good on the people of the UK!

    • Lightpurple says:

      I think she would take the protests in stride

    • jetlagged says:

      Part of me wants the meeting to happen. I want Trump to say/do something wholly inappropriate, and I want Her Maj to haul off and clobber him with her very sturdy purse. Like, actually swing it around her head a few times to get some momentum going before she connects with the side of his head, knocking the Presidential hair-do all askew.

      What is this world coming to when an American citizen really, really hopes their duly elected leader is publicly humiliated on the world stage?

    • CL says:

      Just think if he were able to take a golden carriage ride with her. He’d come home and order an even bigger carriage for himself! Encrusted with diamonds!

  10. Nic919 says:

    The GG is the Canadian representative of the Crown, so really it is the crown touching itself.

    Johnston shouldn’t have had to make any kind of statement over this, especially since his term is almost up. Letting the Queen trip and fall would have been a way bigger deal.

  11. Originaltessa says:

    Omg, so dumb. She’s a 91 year old human being first and foremost and he was scared she was going to fall. I’m not religious so I don’t buy into the idea she’s ordained by God, so basically he touched an elderly woman with the biggest welfare check in the world.

  12. Jan says:

    OMG! I’m American and I pray the Queen is spared Donald Trump!! Not only would he touch her trying to “best” her in a handshake, but would probably knock her down! He is such a dolt! I just love her and this outfit is just great. Sorry you all from Britain but you will be losing a national treasure when she goes!

    • Sarah says:

      I would actually LOVE Donald the Orange 🍊 Traitor to try and best the Queen in a handshake. This is not a shrinking violet, this woman. I think she would better his tiny hands in that contest.

    • Char says:

      I wonder if he’d tell her how good she looks for her age? 🙄 Such a creepy thing to say to someone you’ve just met!

  13. Radley says:

    I find the whole concept of “royalty” offensive. People are people. We are equal. The very thought that it’s improper to touch another human being because they’re “royal” and you’re “common” represents a lot of what’s wrong with us. Always trying to separate–by lineage, race, class, etc. It doesn’t sit well with me.

    Can you tell I’m American? LOL

    • milla says:

      Amen! This is part of a problem. Some ppl think they are worth more. And what is really strange and sad, others believe them.

    • Tina says:

      I agree with you in general, but right now? I’d take a constitutional monarchy as my preferred form of government over the US system any day. Sorry, Hamilton. You didn’t anticipate this one.

    • Ozogirl says:

      I agree. Can’t touch her? Dumb. He was being cautious and gentlemanly.

  14. L84Tea says:

    Geez, such outrage for the man just being a gentleman…

    On another note, what I wouldn’t give to see the Queen’s “closet”. I like to imagine it’s a mile long alley of reds fading to orange fading to yellows fading to greens fading to blues, etc and above them hats and hats and more hats. It would be glorious!

  15. notasugarhere says:

    All this fuss over helping an elderly woman down the stairs, which overshadows that this was Prince Philip’s final official engagement.

  16. Tyrant Destroyed says:

    As a Commonwealth resident I feel more offended by the laziness of the grand kids and their entitlement than an officer helping the Queen to go downstairs. Maybe is a matter of perspective….

  17. Jerusha says:

    Is that a maple leaf brooch she’s wearing or am I just imagining it is?

    • LAK says:

      Yes, it is.

    • notasugarhere says:

      Yes. HM’s father George VI gave it to his wife (her mother) before their Canada tour in 1939. She often lends it out when female members of the family visit Canada.

  18. Kaz says:

    I hate seeing the Queen at lots of events and no-one helps her up and down stairs. I expect she is very independent but isn’t it caring and safer to hold an arm and be supported? So often I think it would look nicer if she held Philips arm or a soldiers arm.

  19. reverie says:

    No. Its not “Canada’s version of the 4th of July.” Very different history, very different premise and very different relationship with the British monarchy. Its more like the day we celebrate the day we went off to college and said goodbye to mother and father. #thecommonwealth

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Well done.

      It seems to be a long letting go but at least it’s been peaceful.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      In fairness, most CB readers are American and don’t know much (if anything) about Canada’s Confederation. I think it was being equated in terms of celebratory holiday without getting bogged down in the history. Technically, our independence day would be April 17, 1982 with the Constitution Act (signed by HM herself!)

  20. Tess says:

    I’d like to imagine that if she was ever about to be subjected to a Trump handshake more that one person — heck she herself would swat him away with her bag.

  21. Wow says:

    They are being so extra over there, as usual. I’m glad people are realizing they had she fallen they would have been a major uproar. It’s not like the old dude was trying to pull a Trump and “grab (her) by the p****”SMH. He was just being a gentleman by making sure she doesn’t fall.

    The Queen looks lovely here. I like this outfit on her.

  22. Dal says:

    Omg. She’s not a god. She’s a queen made by society. Nothing special.

  23. Sam Louise says:

    Leave the poor man alone, He has been a wonderful GG for us Canadians. When he was first appointment, my knee jerk reaction was “oh no, not another old white guy” but he (and his wife) have turned out to be very dedicated to social justice issues, and have represented Canada really well.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      To continue the family analogy above, he has seemed to be a kindly grandfather type.

    • Mazzie says:

      He was lovely to chat to, as well. I asked him how he was enjoying the Canada Day celebrations and he grinned and said he loved it.

  24. Skylark says:

    How utterly ridiculous that David Johnston had to release a statement to explain a simple act of basic courtesy and kindness.

    This world.

  25. Vinot says:

    Werk, Miss Thang!!!!! She looks so good.

  26. mishka says:

    Her pearls don’t work with this outfit. Typically people in power do not like to seem weak. So that is why it is protocol.

    Anyway she ia doing great for 91 and if she wants to wear cream color pearls that don’t match GOD BLESS!!

    • LAK says:

      She wears those pearls every day, with every outfit except state dinners. They are a gift from her grandfather. Her sister Margaret also received a peral necklace on her birthday, but never wore it as much as HM wears hers.

  27. Svea says:

    He touched her so lightly, he wasn’t going to help her at all. If anything that light touch could have startled her into a fall. If he really wanted to be helpful, he should have really broken protocol and gone down the steps just before her so he could have broken any fall as she landed on him. LOL

  28. Superstef says:

    July 1st is called Canada Day, not “our version of July 4th”. Not everything is a version of American traditions. Our history is completely different and has nothing to do with the USA. Uh, so sick of Americans saying crap like this…

    Also, calling our Governor General a brute comes across as a bit ignorant.

    • Skylark says:

      I think it was supposed to be funny/ironic… some sort of faux outrage.

      But I agree it failed on that front and the headline is really inappropriate.

      • Superstef says:

        Thanks. I get the joke, love this site and have been a reader and commenter for years, but this articled struck me as tone deaf…

      • Skylark says:

        Oh me too. And particularly since the ‘brute’ in question is plainly such a lovely chivalrous ‘old-school’ man who might be genuinely hurt by such a carelessly inappropriate headline.

    • Jenna says:

      I have to agree with your comment. I love this site, but, it is incredibly demeaning to refer to Canada Day as ‘Canada’s version of the 4th of July’.

      The title was fine as it was obviously tongue in cheek.

    • Redgrl says:

      Superstef – totally agree with you about the July 1 not being a “version ” of July 4. I actually also posted but the moderators didn’t allow it…

    • ernie says:

      Good god, they’re both celebratory days of patriotism.

      • SuperStef says:

        Yes, they are but we don’t call your “4th of July” our “Canada Day” out of respect and cultural understanding of two very different celebrated national holidays. Can you say the same?

  29. Pookie says:

    I love our GG David Johnston and will be sad to see him go when his term is up.

    Here`s some really cool trivia about him:

    While at Harvard, under the coaching of Cooney Weiland, Johnston captained the varsity ice hockey team, was twice selected to the All-America team and met and befriended Erich Segal, the two becoming jogging partners. In 1970, Segal wrote the best-selling novel Love Story, basing a character in the book—Davey, a captain of the hockey team—on Johnston.

    • Pookie says:

      Plus he was born in Sudbury, Ontario where I was born!

      • Lady D says:

        I’m from Bowmanville, but technically I was born in the front seat of a ’57 Chevy three blocks from the Oshawa hospital, under a street light.

  30. Aerohead21 says:

    As an American who is unfamiliar with royal protocols, I’d say what he did is appropriate as both a gentleman and assistance to an elderly person. It’d be different if he was touching her for the hell of it or just to say he touched the Queen of England. It’s clear he was just trying to be a gentleman. I think he deserves a pass on this one 🙂

  31. Wren says:

    First, As an American, I have to say I love the Queen. She is a service leader and has dedicated her life to her country. She is still spry at 91 and looks amazing. KAte could take lessons from her. QE II looks great in bright colors.

    The man was trying to be there in case she slipped so she didn’t fall. But he might have done better to extend his arm and she could take it if she felt she needed help down the stairs.

    I hope Trump never goes there. He would probably tell her she is in great shape and then grab her….

  32. Space cowgirl says:

    What blows my mind is that we live in a world where there is royalty….

  33. HurricaneK says:

    Just curious about the Queen’s handbag. What do you think she carries in there?

    • notasugarhere says:

      There was a story about this from the Jubilee. I don’t remember everything but it includes a hanky, lipstick, a compact Philip gave her, and on Sundays cash to put in the collection plate.

      • Claire says:

        I read an article a while back that said the real handbag is carried by a lady-in-waiting travelling with her and that she only carries a small one for show. I think it was in an excerpt from her cousin’s memoirs published on the Daily Mail website from memory.

  34. Vox says:

    The Queen never fails to look lovely. I don’t get how the younger royals can go so wrong when they have her maj to turn to for pointers.

    This is a non-issue. Sometimes people break protocol because they judge it to be appropriate in the moment and the Queen is almost always fine with it. She’s a gracious lady, for the most part.

    I really do hope that if I get to that age I have her vigor. I don’t have it now and I’m 60 years younger than her.

  35. Claire says:

    Was there no accessible entry to the building? The real problem here is that they made a frail, elderly woman walk down carpeted stairs with no railing, not that someone offered assistance. There’s also something to be said for protecting the dignity of her office by not putting her in positions such as this which emphasise her frailty. It sounds like a poorly planned event to me.