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Iconic Photos: Trudeau’s Pirouette

Buckingham Palace, May 7, 1977. Known for his flamboyance,Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dated celebrities and was also accused of using an obscenity during debate in the House of Commons. His most controversial moment came as the photographer Doug Ball caught Trudeau spinning a pirouette behind an oblivious Queen Elizabeth during a G7 summit Conference in London, England. “The picture expresses his maverick anti-conformism, his democratic disdain for aristocratic pomp,” noted Ball. Despite all this, Trudeau maintained good relations with the Great Britain. He created a new Canadian-controlled Constitution and Queen Elizabeth II’s coming to Canada in 1982 to proclaim it was his crowning moment.

Years later James Coutts, one of Trudeau’s aides, noted that far from being spontaneous, the pirouette, like many other attention-getting gestures, had been planned and even rehearsed by the prime minister: “He planned it hours before because he strongly opposed the palace protocol that separated heads of state from heads of government. The well-rehearsed pirouette was a way of showing his objection without saying a word.”

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