My July post about the “Princess Pat” song and its controversial lyrics brought a flood of comments. They can be divided into two categories: people who insist that the song be sung with the correct lyrics (The Princess Pat, light infantry…) out of respect for this hallowed unit of the Canadian military, and people who favor the garbled camp version (The Princess Pat, lived in a tree….).
I also received many links to an Internet post saying that the Princess Pats had actually asked that people stop singing the Tree version. However, I never found anything to verify that request.
So, I decided to ask the soldiers themselves. While I couldn’t work in a trip to Canada, I did get in touch with Captain Alan M. Younghusband, the regimental adjutant. (Yes, Capt. Younghusband, isn’t that a great name!)
Although he was traveling (August 2014 was the unit’s centennial, and they were quite busy), he promised to investigate the origins of the song in their records.
I received his response a few weeks ago:
The origins of the “Princess Pat” song is one we call The Ric-A-Dam-Doo Song based on the founding of our regiment and the pride we hold in our original camp flag colour (or flag) that is affectionately known as The Ric-A-Dam-Doo which is Gaelic for “Cloth of thy mother”. Which refers to HRH Princess Patricia (later Lady Patricia Ramsay) working the flag by hand before presenting it to her regiment before they sailed off to the Great War. I’ve only ever heard one version of the song (the non-offensive one) and we still use segments of it during Regimental Salutes. While the colour was retired after surviving WWI , the song is still held within our Regimental Song Book.
Thus, the answer seems to be that there was no official request from the unit. Capt. Younghusband was apparently not even aware of the Tree Version, but he does indirectly refer to it as “offensive.” I suppose it is then up to each troop to decide which lyrics are respectful.
The regiment’s lyrics are:
Our Ric-a-dam-doo, pray what is that?
‘Twas made at home by the Princess Pat.
‘Tis Red and Gold and Royal blue.
That’s what we call our Ric-a-dam-doo.
The wives of the current regiment recorded a beautiful song written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance for the centennial. The video includes many photos of the regiment over the years. Proceeds from the song, which is available for purchase from iTunes, will go to Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry Foundation, supporting Canadian military service and former military personnel in need.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation released a documentary about the Princess Pats for their centennial, “A Battalion Apart.” The accompanying website has much more information about the regiment.
Thank you Capt. Younghusband!
2 thoughts on “Princess Pat: Chop Down that Tree”
Interesting – thanks for the research.
When you wrote to Captain Younghusband, did you ever refer to the original/non-tree lyrics as the “non-offensive” version yourself?
I emailed the PPCLI back in 2005 explaining about the version sung by Guides an Scouts, and received a reply from their webmaster Cpl C Smale, saying that they had no objection to that version being sung, and he sent me a pdf with the original words from their songbook
6th Perth Guides/74th Perthshire Scouts