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The other day a local TV station had a trivia question concerning the Beatles. What was the closest they came to Rochester NY? The answer was Toronto in 1964 which is located right across Lake Ontario. We had some other close calls with the Beatles here in Upstate NY in the past. I remember reading that John Lennon owned some farm land near Syracuse. Ringo Starr and his all-star band played at the local performing arts center and he was once a spokesperson for our local winery (Constellation Brands) in the 1990s. I don’t think George Harrison or Paul McCartney ever played in Rochester but I may be wrong about that.

All of this thinking about the Beatles (my favorite band) and their brushes with Upstate NY, specifically the Finger Lakes Region where I live, got me to thinking about the Royals that have been through our area. I was surprised to realize that there were more than I thought. I live about 90-100 miles away from Niagara Falls so that is the place most royals have visited. However, the Falls are not the only place royals have visited. I also wanted to discover if any royals visited closer to where I live? I live in Canandiagua NY which is situated on the shore of one of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua Lake, which is a 16 mile long and 1 ½ mile wide glacial lake. Here is a little info on the Finger Lakes from Wikipedia:

The Finger Lakes 

The Finger Lakes are a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of Upstate New York in the United States. They are a popular tourist destination. The lakes are long and narrow (resembling fingers), and are oriented roughly on a north-south axis. The two longest, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, are among the deepest in America. Both are close to 40 miles (64 km) from end to end, and never more than 3.5 miles (5.6 km) wide. Cayuga is the longest (38.1 miles, 61 km) and Seneca the largest in total area. Seneca is the deepest (618 feet, 188 m), followed by Cayuga (435 feet, 133 m), with their bottoms well below sea level. These largest lakes resemble the others in shape, which collectively reminded early map-makers of human fingers. Oneida Lake is generally not considered one of the Finger Lakes, but it is sometimes called the “thumb.” The eleven Finger Lakes from east to west are: Otisco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Owasco Lake, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Honeoye Lake, Canadice Lake, Hemlock Lake, and Conesus Lake.

Louis-Philippe, King of the French (1830-1848)

My research has been a bit inconclusive as to whether or not any royals have been in the Finger Lakes Region. The royal who may have come closest to my home town was, surprisingly, not a British prince, but a future King of France; Prince Louis-Philippe Duc d’Orleans in the 1790s. Louis Philippe visited the United States for four years as an exile during the time of the French Revolution. He spent time in Philadelphia where his brothers Antoine and Louis-Charles were staying. He visited New York City where he stayed at the Somerindyck family estate on Broadway and 75th Street with other exiled French princes. Louis-Philippe visited Boston where he also taught French for a short period and lived over what is now the Union Oyster House, Boston’s oldest restaurant. During his time in the United States the future King of the french met with American politicians including George Clinton, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington.

I am not sure how close he came to Canandaigua but it is known that he visited Niagara Falls. Canandaigua was founded in 1790 and at the time of Louis-Philippe’s visit the town was the sole stopping point on the way to the west here in Upstate NY. So it is logical to deduce that if he came to Niagara Falls he must have passed through my home town. I will have to get off my duff one of these days to check the records at our local historical society to see if there is any indication my hunch may be true.

There have been many British royals to have visited the falls the majority of them coming over to visit, or only visitng the Canadian side. In 1860 HRH Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) visited the Falls. Albert Edward’s visit was the first tour of North America by an heir to the British throne. While at the falls he watched Charles Blondin traverse Niagara Falls by high wire. I recently saw on TV daredevil Nik Wallenda walk across Niagara Falls on a high wire. So if the Prince of Wales saw anything close to what I witnessed on TV he really had a treat.

The Prince of Wales at Niagara Falls. 

The closest a royal came to my area that I am certain of was when HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York came to Rochester NY in 1995. He was in attendance for The Ryder Cup (officially the Ryder Cup Matches) which is a biennial golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States. That year it was held at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester. Sadly, I did not go. I am not a fan of golf.

I guess the closest the royals will come to my area is Niagara Falls. But who knows? We are a nice tourist destination and I wonder if any exiled or former royals have ever traveled up to this area? My quest for this information will continue!

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