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Queen of Canada

This article is about the monarchy of Canada. For information on the other countries which share the same person as monarch, see Commonwealth realm. For the current Queen of Canada, see Elizabeth II.
Not to be confused with Monarchism in Canada.
"King of Canada" redirects here. For the 20th-century Canadian prime minister with the surname "King", see William Lyon Mackenzie King.

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The monarchy of Canada is the core of both Canada's federalism and its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy,[1] being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government and each provincial government.[2][3][4] The current Canadian monarch, since 6 February 1952, is Queen Elizabeth II. Although the person of the sovereign is equally shared with fifteen other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct. As a result, the current monarch is officially titled Queen of Canada and, in this capacity, she, her consort, and other members of the Canadian Royal Family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of the Canadian state. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. The Queen lives predominantly in the United Kingdom and, while several powers are the sovereign's alone, most of the royal governmental and ceremonial duties in Canada are carried out by the Queen's representative, the governor general. In each of Canada's provinces, the monarch is represented by a lieutenant governor, while the territories are not sovereign and thus do not have a viceroy.

Per the Canadian constitution, the responsibilities of the sovereign and/or governor general include summoning and dismissing parliament, calling elections, and appointing governments. Further, Royal Assent and the royal sign-manual are required to enact laws, letters patent, and orders in council. But the authority for these acts stems from the Canadian populace and,[5][6][7] within the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy, the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with most related powers entrusted for exercise by the elected and appointed parliamentarians, the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from amongst them, and the judges and justices of the peace.[5] The Crown today primarily functions as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance and a nonpartisan safeguard against the abuse of power,[5][8][9] the sovereign acting as a custodian of the Crown's democratic powers and a representation of the "power of the people above government and political parties."[10][11]

The historical roots of the Canadian monarchy date back to approximately the turn of the 16th century,[n 1][19][20][21][22][23] when European kingdoms made the first claims to what is now Canadian territory. Monarchical governance thenceforth evolved under a continuous succession of French and British sovereigns, and eventually the legally distinct Canadian monarchy,[12][15][16][18][24][25] which is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Maple Crown.[n 2][15][27]

International and domestic aspects

The person who is the Canadian sovereign is equally shared with 15 other monarchies (a grouping, including Canada, known informally as the Commonwealth realms) in the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations, with the monarch residing predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom, and viceroys acting as the sovereign's representatives in Canada. The emergence of this arrangement paralleled the fruition of Canadian nationalism following the end of the First World War and culminated in the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931.[28] Since then, the pan-national Crown has had both a shared and separate character and the sovereign's role as monarch of Canada has been distinct to his or her position as monarch of any other realm,[n 3][28][29] including the United Kingdom.[n 4][31][32][33][34] Only Canadian federal ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on all matters of the Canadian state,[n 5][33][35][36][37][38][39] of which the sovereign, when not in Canada, is kept abreast by weekly communications with the federal viceroy.[40] The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution and in Canada became a Canadian,[16][41][42][43] or "domesticated",[44] establishment, though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language,[16] for reasons historical, political, and of convenience.

This division is illustrated in a number of ways: The sovereign, for example, holds a unique Canadian title and, when she and other members of the Royal Family are acting in public specifically as representatives of Canada, they will use,[45] where possible, Canadian symbols, including the country's national flag, unique royal symbols, armed forces uniforms,[46][47][48][49] and the like, as well as Canadian Forces aircraft or other Canadian-owned vehicles for travel.[50] Once in Canadian airspace, or arrived at a Canadian event taking place abroad, the Canadian Secretary to the Queen, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and other Canadian officials will take over from whichever of their other realms' counterparts were previously escorting the Queen or other member of the Royal Family.[50][51]

The sovereign similarly only draws from Canadian coffers for support in the performance of her duties when in Canada or acting as Queen of Canada abroad; Canadians do not pay any money to the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Canada.[52][53] Normally, tax dollars pay only for the costs associated with the governor general and ten lieutenant governors as instruments of the Queen's authority, including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like.[53] In the absence of official reports on the full cost of the monarchy, the Monarchist League of Canada regularly issues a survey based on various federal and provincial budgets, expenditures, and estimates; the 2013 edition found that the institution cost roughly $57 million in 2012; $1.63 per Canadian.[54]

Succession and regency

Succession is by male-preference (agnatic) primogeniture governed by both the Act of Settlement, 1701 (found by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2003 to be "part of the laws of Canada"[55]), and Bill of Rights, 1689 (declared unanimously by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1981 Patriation Reference to be "undoubtedly in force as part of the law of Canada"[56][57]). This legislation limits the succession to the non-adopted, legitimate descendants of Sophia of Hanover and stipulates that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic, nor married to one, and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne; these particular clauses have prompted legal challenge.

Though Canada's adoption of the Statute of Westminster means these constitutional laws as they apply to Canada lie within the full control of the Canadian parliament,[28][58][59][60] it also means Canada agreed not to change its rules of succession without the unanimous consent of, and a parallel change of succession in, the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation that applies symmetrically in all the other realms and has been likened to a treaty amongst these countries.[55][61] Thus, Canada's line of succession remains identical to that of the United Kingdom. However, there is no provision in Canadian law requiring that the king or queen of Canada must be the same person as the king or queen of the United Kingdom; if the UK were to breach the convention set out in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster and unilaterally change the line of succession to the British throne, the alteration would have no effect on the reigning sovereign of Canada or his or her heirs and successors.[58][62] As such, the rules for succession are not fixed, but may be changed by a constitutional amendment. Along with the other Commonwealth realms, Canada in 2011 committed to the Perth Agreement, which proposed changes to the laws governing succession, including altering the primogeniture to absolute cognatic.[63]

Upon a demise of the Crown (the death or abdication of a sovereign), the late sovereign's heir immediately and automatically succeeds, without any need for confirmation or further ceremony[28]—hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King".[64][65] It is customary, though, for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor general on behalf of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, which meets at Rideau Hall after the accession.[n 6] Following an appropriate period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 7] By the Interpretation Act of 2005, no incumbent appointee of the Crown is affected by the death of the monarch, nor are they required to take the Oath of Allegiance again,[68] and all references in legislation to previous monarchs, whether in the masculine (e.g. His Majesty) or feminine (e.g. the Queen), continue to mean the reigning sovereign of Canada, regardless of his or her gender.[68] After an individual ascends the throne, he or she typically continues to reign until death, being unable to unilaterally abdicate per the tenets of constitutional monarchy.[n 8]

Canada has no laws allowing for a regency, should the sovereign be a minor or debilitated;[40] none have been passed by the Canadian parliament and it was made clear by successive Cabinets since 1937 that the United Kingdom's Regency Act had no applicability to Canada,[40] as the Canadian Cabinet had not requested otherwise when the act was passed that year and again in 1943 and 1953. As the 1947 Letters Patent issued by King George VI permit the Governor General of Canada to exercise almost all of the monarch's powers in respect of Canada, the viceroy is expected to continue to act as the personal representative of the monarch, and not any regent, even if the monarch is a child or incapacitated.[40][69][70] It is unclear, however, how those duties that are the sole domain of the monarch would be carried out at such a time.

Federal and provincial aspects

The Canadian monarchy is a federal one in which the Crown is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the country,[71] the sovereignty of the different administrations being passed on through the overreaching Crown itself as a part of the executive, legislative, and judicial operations in each of the federal and provincial spheres and the headship of state being a part of all equally.[71] The Crown thus links the various governments into a federal state,[3] though it is simultaneously also "divided" into eleven legal jurisdictions, or eleven "crowns"—one federal and ten provincial[72]—with the monarch taking on a distinct legal persona in each.[n 9][n 10] As such, the constitution instructs that any change to the position of the monarch or his or her representatives in Canada requires the consent of the Senate, the House of Commons, and the legislative assemblies of all the provinces.[76]

The monarch is personally represented in each area by a viceroy who carries out the majority of the Queen's duties on her behalf: the Governor General of Canada in the federal sphere, appointed by the Queen on the advice of her federal prime minister, and a lieutenant governor in each province, appointed by the governor general on the advice of the federal prime minister, with input from the relevant provincial premier. The commissioners of Canada's territories are appointed by the federal Governor-in-Council, at the recommendation of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; but, as the territories are not sovereign entities, the commissioners are not personal representatives of the sovereign. The Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments selects candidates for appointment as governor general, lieutenant governor, and commissioner.[77][78]

Personification of the Canadian state

The Crown is an integral part of a practical form of government, and as such it has a direct and substantive part to play in the lives of all Canadians.[79]

David E. Smith, The Invisible Crown, 1995

As the living embodiment of the Crown,[68] the sovereign is regarded as the personification of the Canadian state and,[n 11][10][37][85][86][87][88][89] as such, must, along with his or her viceregal representatives, "remain strictly neutral in political terms."[43] The body of the reigning sovereign thus holds two distinct personas in constant coexistence: that of a natural-born human being and that of the state as accorded to him or her through law; the Crown and the monarch are "conceptually divisible but legally indivisible... [t]he office cannot exist without the office-holder",[n 12][28] so, even in private, the monarch is always "on duty".[91] The terms the state, the Crown[92] The Crown in Right of Canada, Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada (French: Sa Majesté la Reine du chef du Canada),[93] and similar are all synonymous and the monarch's legal personality is sometimes referred to simply as Canada.[87][94]

As such, the king or queen of Canada is the employer of all government officials and staff (including the viceroys, judges, members of the Canadian Forces, police officers, and parliamentarians),[n 13] the guardian of foster children (Crown wards), as well as the owner of all state lands (Crown land), buildings and equipment (Crown held property),[96] state owned companies (Crown corporations), and the copyright for all government publications (Crown copyright).[97] This is all in his or her position as sovereign, and not as an individual; all such property is held by the Crown in perpetuity and cannot be sold by the sovereign without the proper advice and consent of his or her ministers.

The monarch tops the Canadian order of precedence and, as the embodiment of the state, is also the locus of oaths of allegiance,[n 14][81][87][99][100] required of many of the aforementioned employees of the Crown, as well as by new citizens, as per the Oath of Citizenship. Allegiance is given in reciprocation to the sovereign's Coronation Oath,[101] wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of... Canada... according to their respective laws and customs."[102]

Head of state

Though it has been argued that the term head of state is a republican one inapplicable in a constitutional monarchy such as Canada, where the monarch is the embodiment of the state and thus cannot be head of it,[91] the sovereign is regarded by official government sources,[14][103][104][105] judges,[106] constitutional scholars,[87][107] and pollsters as the head of state,[108] while the governor general and lieutenant governors are all only representatives of, and thus equally subordinate to, that figure.[109] Some governors general, their staff, government publications,[87] and constitutional scholars like Edward McWhinney and C. E. S. Franks have,[110][111] however, referred to the position of governor general as that of Canada's head of state,[112][113] though sometimes qualilfying the assertion with de facto or effective;[114][115][116] Franks has hence recommended that the governor general be named officially as the head of state.[111] Since 1927, governors general have been received on state visits abroad as though they were heads of state.[117]

Officials at Rideau Hall have pointed to the Letters Patent of 1947 as justification for describing the governor general as head of state, but others countered that the document makes no such distinction, either literally or implicitly,[118] nor does it effect an abdication of the sovereign's powers in favour of the viceroy.[40] Michael D. Jackson, former protocol officer for Saskatchewan, pointed out that Rideau Hall had been attempting to "recast" the governor general as head of state since the 1970s and that doing so preempted both the Queen and all of the lieutenant governors.[109] This caused not only "precedence wars" at provincial events (where the governor general usurped the lieutenant governor's proper spot as most senior official in attendance)[119][120] and an occasion where the Governor General accorded herself precedence before the Queen,[121] but also constitutional issues by "unbalancing[...] the federalist symmetry."[71][122] This has been regarded as both a natural evolution and as a dishonest effort to alter the constitution without public scrutiny.[118][123] Still others view the role of head of state as being shared by both the sovereign and her viceroys.[124][125][126]

In a poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid following the first prorogation of the 40th parliament on 4 December 2008, it was found that 42% of the sample group thought the prime minister was head of state, while 33% felt it was the governor general. Only 24% named the Queen as head of state,[108] a number up from 2002, when the results of an EKOS Research Associates survey showed only 5% of those polled knew the Queen was head of state (69% answered that it was the prime minister).[127]

Federal constitutional role

Canada's constitution is based on the Westminster parliamentary model, wherein the role of the Queen is both legal and practical, but not political.[43] The sovereign is vested with all the powers of state, collectively known as the royal prerogative,[128] leading the populace to be considered subjects of the Crown.[129] However, as the sovereign's power stems from the people[6][130] and the monarch is a constitutional one, he or she does not rule alone, as in an absolute monarchy. Instead, the Crown is regarded as a corporation, with the monarch being the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government[131]—the executive, legislative, and judicial[4]—acting under the sovereign's authority,[87][132] which is entrusted for exercise by the politicians (the elected and appointed parliamentarians and the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from amongst them) and the judges and justices of the peace.[5] The monarchy has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity and the monarch as a "guardian of constitutional freedoms"[18][99] whose "job is to ensure that the political process remains intact and is allowed to function."[43]

The Crown also sits at the pinnacle of the Canadian Forces, with the constitution placing the monarch in the position of commander-in-chief of the entire force, though the governor general carries out the duties attached to the position and also bears the title of Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada.[133] Further, included in Canada's constitution are the various treaties between the Crown and Canadian First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, who view these documents as agreements directly and only between themselves and the reigning monarch, illustrating the relationship between sovereign and aboriginals.[134][135][136]

Executive (Queen-in-Council)

The government of Canada—formally termed Her Majesty's Government[137]—is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her Privy Council;[137][138][139][140] what is technically known as the Queen-in-Council,[3] or sometimes the Governor-in-Council,[68] referring to the governor general as the Queen's stand-in. One of the main duties of the Crown is to "ensure that a democratically elected government is always in place,"[126] which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet[141]—a committee of the Privy Council charged with advising the Crown on the exercise of the royal prerogative.[140] The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the swearing-in and resignation of prime ministers and other members of the ministry,[141] remains fully briefed through regular communications from her Canadian ministers, and holds audience with them whenever possible.[103] Per convention, the content of these communications and meetings remains confidential, so as to protect the impartiality of the monarch and her representative.[142][143] The appropriateness and viability of this tradition in an age of social media has been questioned.[144][145]

In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the ministerial advice tendered is typically binding,[146] meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule, the Cabinet ruling "in trust" for the monarch.[147] This has been the case in Canada since the Treaty of Paris ended the reign of the territory's last absolute monarch, King Louis XV. However, the royal prerogative belongs to the Crown and not to any of the ministers[5][132][148] and the royal and viceroyal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations (an exercise of the reserve powers),[n 15][66][132][149][150][151][152][153][154] thereby allowing the monarch to make sure "that the government conducts itself in compliance with the constitution."[126] There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen.[40][155][156]

The royal prerogative also extends to foreign affairs, including the ratification of treaties, alliances, international agreements, and declarations of war,[157] the accreditation of Canadian high commissioners and ambassadors and receipt of similar diplomats from foreign states,[158][159] and the issuance of Canadian passports,[160] which remain the sovereign's property.[161]

Parliament (Queen-in-Parliament)

All laws in Canada are the monarch's and the sovereign is one of the three components of parliament[162][163]—formally called the Queen-in-Parliament[3]—but the monarch and viceroy do not participate in the legislative process save for the granting of Royal Assent, which is necessary for a bill to be enacted as law. Either figure or a delegate may perform this task, and the constitution allows the viceroy the option of deferring assent to the sovereign.[164] The governor general is further responsible for summoning the House of Commons, while either the viceroy or monarch can prorogue and dissolve the legislature, after which the governor general usually calls for a general election. The new parliamentary session is marked by either the monarch, governor general, or some other representative reading the Speech from the Throne.[165] Despite this exclusion, members of the commons must still recite the Oath of Allegiance before they may take their seat. Further, the official opposition is traditionally dubbed as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition,[99][166][167] illustrating that, while its members are opposed to the incumbent government, they remain loyal to the sovereign (as personification of the state and its authority).[168]

The monarch does not have the prerogative to impose and collect new taxes without the authorization of an Act of Parliament. The consent of the Crown must, however, be obtained before either of the houses of parliament may even debate a bill affecting the sovereign's prerogatives or interests, and no act of parliament binds the Queen or her rights unless the act states that it does.[169]

Courts (Queen-on-the-Bench)

The sovereign is responsible for rendering justice for all her subjects, and is thus traditionally deemed the fount of justice,[170] her position in the Canadian courts formally dubbed the Queen on the Bench.[3] Though the monarch does not personally rule in judicial cases, this function of the royal prerogative instead performed in trust and in the Queen's name by officers of Her Majesty's court,[170] common law holds the notion that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in her own courts, judged by herself, for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the Queen-in-Council) are permitted, but lawsuits against the monarch personally are not cognizable. In international cases, as a sovereign and under established principles of international law, the Queen of Canada is not subject to suit in foreign courts without her express consent.[138] The monarch, and by extension the governor general, also grants immunity from prosecution,[171] exercises the royal prerogative of mercy and may pardon offences against the Crown,[172][173] either before, during, or after a trial.

An image of the Queen and/or the Arms of Her Majesty in Right of Canada is always displayed in Canadian federal courtrooms. Itinerant judges will display an image of the Queen and the Canadian flag when holding a session away from established courtrooms; such situations occur in parts of Canada where the stakeholders in a given court case are too isolated geographically to be able to travel for regular proceedings.

Cultural role

Royal presence and duties

Members of the Royal Family have been present in Canada since the late 18th century, their reasons including participating in military manoeuvres, serving as the federal viceroy, or undertaking official royal tours. A prominent feature of the latter are numerous royal walkabouts, the tradition of which was initiated in 1939 by Queen Elizabeth when she was in Ottawa and broke from the royal party to speak directly to gathered veterans.[174][175] Usually important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of Canadian culture will warrant the presence of the monarch,[174] while other royals will be asked to participate in lesser occasions. A household to assist and tend to the monarch forms part of the royal party.

Official duties involve the sovereign representing the Canadian state at home or abroad, or her relations as members of the Royal Family participating in government organized ceremonies either in Canada or elsewhere.[n 16][192][193][194][195] The advice of the Canadian Cabinet is the impetus for royal participation in any Canadian event, though, at present, the Chief of Protocol and his staff in the Department of Canadian Heritage are, as part of the State Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Program,[196][197] responsible for orchestrating any official events in or for Canada that involve the Royal Family.[198] Conversely, unofficial duties are performed by Royal Family members on behalf of Canadian organizations of which they may be patrons, through their attendance at charity events, visiting with members of the Canadian Forces as colonel-in-chief, or marking certain key anniversaries.[192][195] The invitation and expenses associated with these undertakings are usually borne by the associated organization.[192] In 2005 members of the Royal Family were present at a total of 76 Canadian engagements, as well as several more through 2006 and 2007.[199]

Apart from Canada, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family regularly perform public duties in the other fifteen nations of the Commonwealth in which the Queen is head of state. This situation, however, can mean the monarch and/or members of the Royal Family will be promoting one nation and not another; a situation that has been met with criticism.[n 17]

Symbols, associations, and awards

The main symbol of the monarchy is the sovereign herself,[131] described as "the personal expression of the Crown in Canada,"[201] and her image is thus used to signify Canadian sovereignty and government authority—her effigy, for instance, appearing on currency, and her portrait in government buildings.[99] The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, and salutes.[202] A royal cypher, appearing on buildings and official seals, or a crown, seen on provincial and national coats of arms, as well as police force and Canadian Forces regimental and maritime badges and rank insignia, is also used to illustrate the monarchy as the locus of authority,[203] the latter without referring to any specific monarch.

Since the days of King Louis XIV,[204] the monarch is the fount of all honours in Canada and new orders,[204][205] decorations, and medals, which form "an integral element of the Crown,"[204] may only be created with the approval of the sovereign through letters patent. Hence, the insignia and medallions for these awards bear a crown, cypher, and/or effigy of the monarch. Similarly, the country's heraldic authority was created by the Queen and, operating under the authority of the governor general, grants new coats of arms, flags, and badges in Canada. Use of the royal crown in such symbols is a gift from the monarch showing royal support and/or association, and requires her approval before being added.[203]

Members of the Royal Family also act as ceremonial Colonels-in-Chief of various military regiments, reflecting the Crown's relationship with the armed forces through participation in events both at home and abroad.[n 18] The monarch also serves as the Honorary Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[206]

A number of Canadian civilian organizations have association with the monarchy, either through their being founded via a royal charter, having been granted the right to use the prefix royal before their name, or because at least one member of the Royal Family serves as a patron. In addition to the The Prince's Charities Canada, established by Charles, Prince of Wales, some other charities and volunteer organizations have also been founded as gifts to, or in honour of, some of Canada's monarchs or members of the Royal Family, such as the Victorian Order of Nurses (a gift to Queen Victoria for her Diamond Jubilee in 1897), the Canadian Cancer Fund (set up in honour of King George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935), and the Queen Elizabeth II Fund to Aid in Research on the Diseases of Children. A number of awards in Canada are likewise issued in the name of previous or present members of the Royal Family. Further, organizations will give commemorative gifts to members of the Royal Family to mark a visit or other important occasion.

Canadian Royal Family

The Canadian Royal Family is shared with other countries. For information on the Royal Family in those regions, see Commonwealth realm > Royal family.

The Canadian Royal Family is a group of people related to the monarch of Canada.[207] There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the group, though the Department of Canadian Heritage maintains a list of immediate members and the Department of National Defence stipulates that those in the direct line of succession who bear the style of Royal Highness (Altesse Royale) are subjects of,[208][209] and owe their allegiance to, the reigning sovereign specifically as king or queen of Canada.[210] This entitles them to Canadian consular assistance and to the protection of the Queen's armed forces of Canada when they are outside of the Commonwealth realms and in need of protection or aid.[210]

Given the shared nature of the Canadian monarch, most members of the Canadian Royal Family are also members of the British Royal Family, and thus the House of Windsor. As such, they are the distant relations of the Belgian, Danish, Greek, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish Royal Families, and bear lineage from, amongst others, Arab, Armenian, Cuman, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Mongolian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Serbian, and Swedish ethnicities,[211] as well as, according to Moroccan and Chinese officials, respectively, being directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad and Tang Dynasty Chinese Emperors.[212] However, because Canada and the UK are independent of one another, it is incorrect to refer in the Canadian context to the family of the monarch as the "British Royal Family"[213]—as is frequently done by Canadian and other media[214][215]—and there exist some differences between the official lists of each: for instance, while he never held the style His Royal Highness, Angus Ogilvy was included in the Department of Canadian Heritage's royal family list, but was not considered a member of the British Royal Family.[216] Additionally, unlike in the United Kingdom, the monarch is the only member of the Royal Family in Canada with a title established through law; it would be possible for others to be granted distinctly Canadian titles (as is the case for the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland), but they have always been, and continue to only be, accorded the use of a courtesy title, which is that they have been granted via letters patent in the United Kingdom, though they are also in Canada translated to French.[n 19]

Though the group is predominantly based in the United Kingdom, the sovereign and those amongst her relations who do not meet the requirements of Canadian citizenship law are still considered Canadian;[217][218] as early as 1959, it was recognized that the Queen was "equally at home in all her realms."[219] Rather, as legal subjects of the country's monarch,[210] the Royal Family holds a unique position reflected in the confusion that sometimes arises around the awarding of honours to them.[n 20] There are four Canadian citizens within the Canadian Royal Family: Two married into it: In 1988, Sylvana Jones (née Tomaselli in Placentia, Newfoundland) wed the Earl of St. Andrews, a great-grandson of King George V, and, on 18 May 2008, Autumn Kelly, originally from Montreal, married Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grandson, Peter Phillips.[223] The latter couple has two children, 12th and 13th in line to the throne, who each hold dual Canadian and British citizenship.[224][225] Beyond legalities, members of the Royal Family have also, on occasion, declared themselves to be Canadian,[n 20][n 21] and some past members have lived in Canada for extended periods as viceroy or for other reasons.[n 22] Poet George Elliott Clarke publicly mused about a fully First Nations royal family for Canada.[233]

According to the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust, Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn—due to his having lived in Canada between 1791 and 1800, and fathering Queen Victoria—is the "ancestor of the modern Canadian Royal Family."[230] Nonetheless, the concept of the Canadian Royal Family did not emerge until after the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, when Canadian officials only began to overtly consider putting the principles of Canada's new status as an independent kingdom into effect.[234] At first, the monarch was the only member of the Royal Family to carry out public ceremonial duties solely on the advice of Canadian ministers; King Edward VIII became the first to do so when in July 1936 he dedicated the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France—one of his few obligations performed during his short reign.[n 16] Over the decades, however, the monarch's children, grandchildren, cousins, and their respective spouses began to also perform functions at the direction of the Canadian Crown-in-Council, representing the monarch within Canada or abroad. By the 1960s, loyal societies in Canada recognized the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, as a "Canadian princess";[235] but, it was not until October 2002 when the term Canadian Royal Family was first used publicly and officially by one of its members: in a speech to the Nunavut legislature at its opening, Queen Elizabeth II stated: "I am proud to be the first member of the Canadian Royal Family to be greeted in Canada's newest territory."[236] At the time of the 2011 royal tour of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, both Michael Valpy, writing for the CBC, and The Globe and Mail referred to William as "a prince of Canada"[237][238] and both Canadian and British media were referring to "Canada's royal family" or the "Canadian royal family".[239][240][241]

The press frequently follows the movements of the Royal Family, and can, at times, affect the group's popularity, which has fluctuated over the years. Mirroring the mood in the United Kingdom, the family's lowest approval was during the mid-1980s to 1990s, when the children of the monarch were enduring their divorces and were the targets of negative tabloid reporting.

Federal residences and royal household

A number of buildings across Canada are reserved by the Crown for the use of the monarch and her viceroys. The sovereign's principal official residence, as well as that primarily used by the governor general, is Rideau Hall,[242][243][244][245][246][247] located in Ottawa, Ontario,[248] and another residence of the governor general is the Citadelle, in Quebec City. Each of these royal seats holds pieces from the Crown Collection.[249] Further, though neither was ever used for their intended purpose, Hatley Castle in British Columbia was purchased in 1940 by King George VI in Right of Canada to use as his home during the course of World War II,[250] and the Emergency Government Headquarters, built in 1959 at CFS Carp and decommissioned in 1994, included a residential apartment for the sovereign or governor general in the case of a nuclear attack on Ottawa.[251][252]

Monarchs and members of their family have also owned in a private capacity homes and land in Canada: King Edward VIII owned Bedingfield Ranch, near Pekisko, Alberta;[253] the Marquess of Lorne and Princess Louise owned a cottage on the Cascapédia River in Quebec;[254] and Princess Margaret owned Portland Island between its gifting to her by the Crown in Right of British Columbia in 1958 and her death in 2002, though she offered it back to the Crown on permanent loan in 1966 and the island and surrounding waters eventually became Princess Margaret Marine Park.[255][256]

To assist the Queen in carrying out her official duties on behalf of Canada, she appoints various people to her Canadian household. Along with the Canadian Secretary to the Queen,[198] the monarch's entourage includes two ladies-in-waiting, the Canadian Equerry-in-Waiting to the Queen, the Queen's Police Officer, the Duke of Edinburgh's Police Officer,[257] the Queen's Honorary Physician, the Queen's Honorary Dental Surgeon, and the Queen's Honorary Nursing Officer[258]—the latter three being drawn from the Canadian Forces.[73] Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, also has a Canadian private secretary and his wife,[259] Sophie, Countess of Wessex, a lady-in-waiting.[260]

There are three household regiments specifically attached to the Royal Household (the Governor General's Foot Guards, the Governor General's Horse Guards, and the Canadian Grenadier Guards), as well as two chapels royal in Ontario.[261]


The Canadian monarchy can trace its ancestral lineage back to the kings of the Angles and the early Scottish kings, through centuries since parts of the territories that today comprise Canada were claimed by King Henry VII in 1497 and others by King Francis I in 1534; both being blood relatives of the current Canadian monarch. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said of the Crown that it "links us all together with the majestic past that takes us back to the Tudors, the Plantagenets, the Magna Carta, habeas corpus, petition of rights, and English common law."[262] Though the first French and British colonizers of Canada interpreted the hereditary nature of some indigenous North American chieftainships as a form of monarchy,[263][264][265] it is generally accepted that Canada has been a territory of a monarch or a monarchy in its own right only since the establishment of New France in the early 17th century;[17] according to historian Jacques Monet, the Canadian Crown is one of the few that have survived through uninterrupted succession since before its inception.[25]

After the Canadian colonies of France were, via war and treaties, ceded to the British Crown, and the population was greatly expanded by those loyal to George III fleeing north from persecution during and following the American Revolution, British North America was in 1867 confederated by Queen Victoria to form Canada as a kingdom in its own right.[32][103][266] By the end of the First World War, the increased fortitude of Canadian nationalism inspired the country's leaders to push for greater independence from the King in his British Council, resulting in the creation of the uniquely Canadian monarchy through the Statute of Westminster, which was granted Royal Assent in 1931.[267][268] Only five years later, Canada had three successive kings in the space of one year, with the death of George V, the accession and abdication of Edward VIII, and his replacement by George VI.

The latter became in 1939 the first reigning monarch of Canada to tour the country (though previous kings had done so before their accession). As the ease of travel increased, visits by the sovereign and other Royal Family members became more frequent and involved, seeing Queen Elizabeth II officiate at various moments of importance in the nation's history, one being when she proclaimed the country to be fully independent, via constitutional patriation, in 1982.[227] That act is said to have entrenched the monarchy in Canada,[269] due to the stringent requirements, as laid out in the amending formula, that must be met in order to alter the monarchy in any way.[76]

Through the 1960s and 1970s, the rise of Quebec nationalism and changes in Canadian identity created an atmosphere where the purpose and role of the monarchy came into question. Some references to the monarch and the monarchy were removed from the public eye and moves were made by the federal government to constitutionally alter the Crown's place and role in Canada, first by explicit legal amendments and later by subtle attrition impelled by elements of the public service, the Cabinet, and governors general and their staff alike.[122][270][271] But, provincial and federal ministers, along with loyal national citizen's organizations, ensured that the system remained the same in essence.[272] By 2002, the royal tour and associated fêtes for the Queen's Golden Jubilee proved popular with Canadians across the country,[273][274][275] though Canada's first republican organization since the 1830s was also founded that year. Celebrations took place to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012,[276][277] the first such event in Canada since 1897, when Victoria marked her 60th year on the throne.

Public understanding

Commentators have in the late 20th and early 21st centuries stated that contemporary Canadians had and have a poor understanding of the Canadian monarchy.[278] Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said there is "an abysmal lack of knowledge about the system"[279] and Senator Lowell Murray wrote in 2003: "The Crown has become irrelevant to most Canadian's understanding of our system of Government," which he attributed to the "fault of successive generations of politicians, of an educational system that has never given the institution due study, and of past vice-regal incumbents themselves."[280] These comments were echoed by teacher and author Nathan Tidridge, who asserted in his 2011 book, Canada's Constitutional Monarchy: An Introduction to Our Form of Government, that, beginning in the 1960s, the role of the Crown disappeared from provincial education curricula, as the general subject of civics came to receive less attention.[271] Michael Valpy also pointed to the fact that "The crown's role in the machinery of Canada's constitutional monarchy rarely sees daylight. Only a handful of times in our history has it been subjected to glaring sunshine, unfortunately resulting in a black hole of public understanding as to how it works."[281] As well, the position of prime minister had undergone what has been described as a "presidentialisation",[282][283] to the point that its incumbents publicly outshine the actual head of state.[284][285]

David S. Donovan felt that Canadians mostly considered the monarch and her representatives as purely ceremonial and symbolic figures.[286] It was argued by Alfred Neitsch that this undermined the Crown's legitimacy as a check and balance in the governmental system.[287]


To date, outside of academic circles, there has been little national debate on the Canadian monarchy, a subject about which most Canadians are generally unaware.[288] Out of Canada's three most prominent political parties, neither the Liberal Party nor the Conservative Party is officially in favour of abolishing the monarchy (though the latter makes support for constitutional monarchy a founding principle in its policy declaration[289]) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) has no official position on the role of the Crown. Only some Members of Parliament belonging to these parties and the leaders of the Bloc Québécois have made any statements suggesting abolition of the monarchy.[290][291][292] Canada has two special-interest groups representing the debate, who frequently argue the issue in the media: the Monarchist League of Canada and Citizens for a Canadian Republic.[293][294] There are also other organizations that support and advocate the monarchy, such as the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada,[295] the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust,[296] the Orange Order in Canada,[297] and the Friends of the Canadian Crown.[298]

The idea of a uniquely Canadian monarch has been proffered as an alternative,[299] either one descended from the present queen or coming from a First Nations royal house;[22][233][300][301] however, there has been no popular or official support for such a change.

See also

Canada portal
Canadian politics portal
Commonwealth realms portal


  1. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales: Son Altesse Royale le prince de Galles
  2. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall: Son Altesse Royale la duchesse de Cornouailles
  3. His Royal Highness The Duke of York: Son Altesse Royale le duc d'York
  4. His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex: Son Altesse Royale le comte de Wessex
  5. Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex: Son Altesse Royale la comtesse de Wessex
  6. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal: Son Altesse Royale la princesse Royale



Further information


  • MacKinnon, Frank (1976). The Crown in Canada. Calgary, Alta.: Glenbow-Alberta Institute: McClelland and Stewart West. 189 p. ISBN 0-7712-1016-7 pbk


External links

  • Canadian government website for the Canadian Monarchy
  • Canada: A Constitutional Monarchy from the Government of Canada
  • Buckingham Palace website for the Canadian Monarchy
  • Maple Leaf Web: The Monarchy in Canada
  • Learning About the Canadian Crown Website
  • The Canadian Crown
  • Film footage of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada
  • CBC Digital Archives: Expodition: The royal treatment
  • The Royal Collection: Film footage of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh in Canada, 1951
  • CBC Digital Archives: Their Majesties in Canada
  • Film footage of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Canada, 1939
  • National Film Board of Canada films on the Canadian monarchy

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