Queen Milli of Galt

“Queen Milli of Galt” is a play, written by Gary Kirkham, that’s coming to Theatre Orangeville May 8.  In fact, this morning, Susan went to the first read through, at the rehearsal hall.  It is a delightfully heart warming story – we saw the play in Blythe a few years ago – and can hardly wait for it to open here.  Yes, it’s Good Friday, and the cast is rehearsing again on Easter Sunday, but as they said in the movie “Shakespeare in Love“:

William:  “The show must…”

Tilney – Master of the Revels: “Go on.”

The story of Queen Milli of Galt is true – partly, or wholly, we’re not sure.  But Millicent Millory was a real person – born in Galt, Ontario, in 1890.  She became a teacher who worked in Lambton Mills, Malton, Northern Ontario, and Rockwood – also, apparently, in Calgary.  Prince Edward, who became Edward VIII, was certainly a real person and a playboy, and he did visit Canada several times before becoming king… in 1919, 1923, 1924, 1927 and later up to 1950, but it’s the 1919 visit where the story began.  While here in 1919, the prince stayed at the Iroquois Hotel in Galt.  Millicent’s father, James Milroy, owned the hotel, so it’s quite reasonable to believe that Milli could have met Prince Edward there, as she claimed.  The prince also bought a ranch near Calgary that he visited often – even after he abdicated the throne and married Wallis Simpson.  But the rest of the story is not so easily confirmed.

Did Milli Milroy Marry Prince Edward?

For the rest of her life, Milli claimed that she did indeed marry the prince.  She said it was a morganatic marriage, which means that she and any children give up any claim to royal title or privilege.  There were children, she said, two boys – Andrew and Edward – who were either quickly adopted, taken back to England by the royal family, killed in a car crash, or – one of them at least – risen to power and influence in the Canadian government.  To save embarrassing the prince and royal family, Milli kept secret the names of her sons, but she did, occasionally, show friends the marriage certificate and photos that she kept in the family bible.  She said she would allow these to be made public after her death.

Milli died in 1985, and on her gravestone is incised: “Millicent A.M.M.M.St.P-Daughter of James and Helen Milroy, 1890-1985 Wife of Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, 1894-1972”.  Not long after Milli died, someone broke into her home.  The only thing taken was the family bible.   In a story in the Wellington Advertiser, August 29, 2003, writer Stephen Thorning quotes an interview with the late Eva Howlett, a friend of Millicent Milroy, who confirmed many of these facts.

What’s the Real Story?

What does it matter?  It may be true, in whole or in part, but it’s an intriguing tale, and the play written about it is delightful.  “Queen Milli of Galt” runs from May 8 to 25 at Theatre Orangeville, 87 Broadway, Orangeville.  It stars Heidi Lynch, Jefferson Mappin, Mag Ruffman, Adrian Shepherd and Lauren Toffan.  David Nairn directs.

There is another story told… one that connects the prince to Orangeville in a very distant way.  Apparently during one of his early visits to Canada, his car (minus the prince) pulled up to a gas station on Broadway and filled up.  Kind-a like the many American inns that claim “George Washington Slept Here” or those in Great Britain claiming “Dick Turpin slept here.”  But all these tales may be true!

Post Script

Susan got back from the read through – and lunch – just a few moments ago. She said, “The play is even better than I remember – and all the actors are superb”.  Gary Kirkham was at the reading, too, and he was thrilled with this production.  It’s going to be so much fun!

Post Post Script

If you’re into geocaching, here’s a challenge.