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Inbred royals and retrievers

November 15, 2014

 

Fierce loyalist in her new hound land *

 

Lady (Jacqueline) Barlow 
Monarchist and dog lover 
1929-2002

 

Lady Barlow, who has died in St John's, Newfoundland, aged 73, was a redoubtable defender of the monarchy and an enthusiastic breeder of Labrador dogs.

 

A larger than life character, in the grand tradition of the Englishwoman abroad, Jacqueline Barlow founded the Monarchist League of Newfoundland in 1975. She helped to secure Canadian Cabinet approval for the designation "Royal" to be conferred on the Newfoundland Constabulary; ran regular dinners to celebrate the birthdays of the Queen and Prince of Wales; and drove cars with a Union pennant flying from the aerial.

 

At the Silver Jubilee in 1977, Lady Barlow organised a Declaration of Loyalty (a pointed contradiction of the US Declaration of Independence). It was signed by about 80 per cent of the 500,000 Newfoundlanders and presented by Newfoundland veterans of the two world wars to the Queen at Balmoral.

 

Her success is due in no small part to her touring the island's schools, as well as asking postmistresses to have a copy of the Declaration ready for visitors to sign.

 

She also commissioned what was claimed to be the largest Union flag, 13 metres by 8.5 metres. It was flown over City Hall in St John's, the capital, and then from a specially constructed flagpole at Cupids in Conception Bay, where the first official English colony was established in 1610.

 

As the monarchy came under increasing pressure in the 1990s, Lady Barlow's crisp, confident British tones in support of the institution became a familiar sound on Canadian airwaves.

 

She also had clear views about duty, regretting that when the Princess of Wales had failed to fulfil "the high hopes we all had for her" it was no longer possible for her to be lodged in comfortable quarters at the Tower of London. Nevertheless, she had no doubt that the major fault lay with the British tabloids. "Look where this petty, piddling, gawping interest in the private lives of the royal family has got us," she thundered in one of her letters to The Daily Telegraph. "This must stop!"

 

Pointing out that for many loyal subjects outside the British Isles the monarchy represented a safeguard unequalled in any other system of government, she declared: "When you insult the Crown, you insult all of us."

 

The daughter of a cotton broker who as a RNVR officer during World War II patrolled the coasts of Scotland with seven trawlers and one gun, she was born Jacqueline Claire de Marigny Audley at Hale, Cheshire, on January 15, 1929. She spent her wartime years on the Isle of Arran and at a convent school in Ayrshire. She went to Canada with her father after the war, but came back to England to join the Wrens as an officer cadet.

 

Having later decided not to proceed with a naval career, she returned to Montreal, where she found scope for her talents controlling unruly students as a librarian at the McGill University medical school. In 1952 she married the architect Sir Christopher Barlow, 7th baronet, with whom she had a son and two daughters. When the family moved to Newfoundland, she immediately felt at home on an island where almost every home had a photograph of the Queen. Here she devotedly nurtured her succession of Labradors which, with one exception, were named after British admirals Blake, Vian, Cochrane, Duckworth, Drake, Nelson and Beatty.

 

The breed was traditionally associated with Lady Barlow's ancestor the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury, who was said to have imported the first "Little Newfoundland" water dogs in the 1820s. Malmesbury's son, the 3rd Earl, decided the name was rather a mouthful and changed it to Labrador. However, the dogs were said to have originated in various places (particularly Portugal), until Lady Barlow decided to investigate.

 

Encouraged by the Canadian province's former Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Leonard Outerbridge, to take a schooner to some southern outposts without roads, she traced three remaining original water dogs.

Later, the US expert Richard Wolters retraced her route and paid earnest tribute to her in his book The Labrador Retriever.

 

Lady Barlow edited Labrador Characters, a collection of accounts of the almost human characteristics of these dogs. On a visit to Britain in 1982 she was invited to Buckingham Palace where, over a gin and tonic, the Queen offered her a puppy from Sandringham. Called Sandringham Chive, he was the son of the field champion Sandringham Sydney, and became Lady Barlow's greatest pride.

 

She reported regularly on his progress via the Queen's private secretaries and would appear with the dog so regularly whenever a member of the Royal family came to the island that Princess Anne was thought to have once muttered: "Not that ruddy dog again."

 

Lady Barlow could be devastatingly blunt and she never wavered in her Britishness. Fellow monarchists on the mainland sometimes felt she was as much an embarrassment as an aid to their cause.

 

She had an unstinting love for the island. She would not hesitate to launch a diatribe against the iniquity of the mainlanders' propensity for telling "Newfie" jokes, then suddenly ask, "but, have you heard this one?"

 

Leaning back in her chair, with a cup of tea to hand and her dogs around her, she would confide: "I say, which is perhaps naughty, that Newfoundland is as nice as England used to be."

 

The Daily Telegraph, London

April 15, 2002

 

 

* NOTE: Neil Armstrong's "Regal Labrador" painting depicts a Golden, not a Labrador Retriever.

 

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