The visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) to Canada and the United States on this day 17 May 1939 was truly historic, the first time a reigning monarch had visited North America.
The Prime Minister of Canada relished the limelight so much that he diminished the role of the Governor General, and literally airbrushed the King of Canada from this - perhaps the most famous photograph of the royal tour.
William Lyon Mackenzie King is often considered to be one of Canada’s greatest political minds. King, who trained as a lawyer and worked as a professor before becoming a politician, eventually rose to the office of Prime Minister, where he served for twenty-one non-consecutive years. But like most brilliant individuals, privately, King was off-his-rocker. He frequently held séances in which he communicated with his dead mother, Sir Wilfred Laurier, Leonardo Da Vinci, and later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The latter is almost certainly false though, as privately, FDR didn’t like King.
Although King managed to keep his fascination with the occult secret during his lifetime, many of his decisions were still guided by his ego and eccentricities. Such was the case, when he decided to doctor a photograph, taken in 1939, of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), and himself at Banff National Park in Alberta. In the original photo, the three are enjoying a laugh amid the scenery. Though we doubt George would be amused if he knew that he would later be erased from history.
The original photo of Mackenzie King, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth in Banff, Alberta. (1939)
The doctored photo of Mackenzie King and Queen Elizabeth. (1939-1940)
By today’s standards, the doctoring job is almost childish. At close inspection, George has clearly been painted over with a tree and some flowers, the shadow where he was standing is still visible, and the brick underneath looks warped. However, it seems that this forgery was good enough to fool the Canadian public, as the doctored photo was used in a campaign poster for the Prime Minister’s reelection bid.
Written by The Intrepid