Monarchy of Canada

Queen of Canada

Royal Arms of Canada
(as revised in 1994)
Elizabeth II
since 6 February 1952
Style Her Majesty
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales[1]
Residences Rideau Hall, Ottawa
La Citadelle, Quebec City
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The Monarchy of Canada is at the very core of both Canada's federal structure and Westminster-style of parliamentary and constitutional democracy.[2] The monarchy is the foundation of the executive (Queen-in-Council), legislature (Queen-in-Parliament), and judiciary (Queen-on-the-Bench) in the federal and each provincial jurisdiction.[7] The Canadian sovereign is the personification of the Canadian state and,[11][12] as a matter of constitutional law, is Canada.[13] The current Canadian monarch, since 6 February 1952, is Queen Elizabeth II. Royal succession is determined according to common and statute law, which stipulates the throne is inherited by the sovereign's eldest living, non-Catholic child or, in the case of a childless sovereign, the nearest collateral line. As such, Elizabeth's son, Prince Charles, is heir apparent.

Although the person of the sovereign is equally shared with 15 other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct.[18] 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 Canada. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. While some powers are exercisable only by the sovereign (such as appointing governors general), most of the monarch's operational and ceremonial duties (such as summoning the House of Commons and accrediting ambassadors) are exercised by his or her representative, the Governor General of Canada.[24] In each of Canada's provinces, the monarch is represented by a lieutenant governor. As the territories are not sovereign, they do not have a viceroy.

As all executive authority is vested in the sovereign, their assent is required to allow for bills to become law and for letters patent and orders in council to have legal effect. While the power for these acts stems from the Canadian people through the constitutional conventions of democracy,[28] executive authority remains vested in the Crown and is only entrusted by the sovereign to their government on behalf of the people, underlining the Crown's role in safeguarding the rights, freedoms, and democratic system of government of Canadians, and reinforcing the fact that "governments are the servants of the people and not the reverse".[29][30] Thus, within a constitutional monarchy the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with the sovereign normally exercising executive authority only on the advice of the executive committee of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, with the sovereign's legislative and judicial responsibilities largely carried out through parliamentarians as well as judges and justices of the peace.[29] The Crown today primarily functions as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance and a nonpartisan safeguard against abuse of power,[31] 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".[34][35]

Canada is one of the oldest continuing monarchies in the world.[20][36] Initially established in the 16th century,[n 1] monarchy in Canada has evolved through a continuous succession of French and British sovereigns into the independently Canadian sovereigns of today,[51] whose institution is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Maple Crown.[n 2]

International and domestic aspects

Map of the Commonwealth realms

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 53-member Commonwealth of Nations, with the monarch residing predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom, and viceroys (the Governor General of Canada in the federal sphere and a lieutenant governor in each province) 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.[56] Since then, the pan-national Crown has had both a shared and a 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][20][56][57] including the United Kingdom.[n 4][59][60][61][62] Only Canadian federal ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on all matters of the Canadian state,[n 5][61][63][64][65][66][67] of which the sovereign, when not in Canada, is kept abreast by weekly communications with the federal viceroy.[68] The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution and in Canada became a Canadian,[43][69][70][71] or "domesticated",[72] establishment, though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language,[43] 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,[73] when she and other members of the Royal Family are acting in public specifically as representatives of Canada, they use, where possible, Canadian symbols, including the country's national flag, unique royal symbols, armed forces uniforms,[74][75][76][77] and the like, as well as Canadian Forces aircraft or other Canadian-owned vehicles for travel.[78] 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.[78][79]

The sovereign similarly only draws from Canadian funds 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.[80][81]

Succession and regency

Charles, Prince of Wales, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2014. Charles is the heir apparent to the Canadian throne.

As in the other Commonwealth realms, the current heir apparent to the throne is Prince Charles, with the next three in the line of succession being the Prince's eldest son, Prince William, followed by William's two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

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;[56] hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King."[82][83] It is customary for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor general on behalf of the Privy Council, which meets at Rideau Hall after the accession. 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 6] 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,[84] 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.[85] This is because, in common law, the Crown never dies. After an individual ascends the throne, he or she usually continues to reign until death.[n 7]

The original Act of Settlement, 1701

The relationship between the Commonwealth realms is such that any change to the rules of succession to their respective crowns requires the unanimous consent of all the realms. Succession is governed by statutes, such as the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Settlement 1701, and the Acts of Union 1707. In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated and any possible future descendants of his were excluded from the line of succession.[86] As the Statute of Westminster 1931 disallowed the UK from legislating for Canada, including in relation to succession,[87] Order in Council P.C. 3144[88] was issued, expressing the Cabinet's request and consent for His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 to become part of the laws of Canada and the Succession to the Throne Act 1937 gave parliamentary ratification to that action, together bringing the Act of Settlement and Royal Marriages Act 1772 into Canadian law.[89][90] The latter was deemed by the Cabinet in 1947 to be part of Canadian law,[n 8][91] as is the Bill of Rights 1689, according to the Supreme Court of Canada.[93] The Department of External Affairs included all succession-related laws in its list of acts within Canadian law. In 2011, Canada committed to the Perth Agreement with the other Commonwealth realms, which proposed changes to the rules governing succession to remove male preference and removal of disqualification arising from marriage to a Roman Catholic. As a result of the Perth Agreement, the Canadian parliament passed the Canadian Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, which gave the country's assent to the Succession to the Crown Bill 2013, at that time proceeding in the parliament of the United Kingdom.

Certain aspects of the succession rules have been challenged in the courts, for example under the provisions of the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701, Catholics are barred from succeeding to the throne, however the prohibition has been upheld twice by Canadian courts, once in 2003 and again in 2014.[94][95][96][97]

Canada has no laws allowing for a regency, should the sovereign be a minor or debilitated;[68] 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,[68] 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.[68][98][99]

Federal and provincial aspects

Canada's monarchy was established at Confederation, when its executive government and authority were declared (in section 9 of the Constitution Act, 1867) "to continue and be vested in the Queen". The Canadian monarchy is a federal one in which the Crown is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the country,[100] 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.[100] The Crown thus links the various governments into a federal state,[9] though it is simultaneously also "divided" into eleven legal jurisdictions, or eleven "crowns"—one federal and ten provincial[101]—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.[104]

The governor general is appointed by the Queen on the advice of her federal prime minister and the lieutenant governors are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the federal prime minister. 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, which may seek input from the relevant premier and provincial or territorial community, proposes candidates for appointment as governor general, lieutenant governor, and commissioner.[105][106]

Personification of the Canadian state

Queen Elizabeth II, wearing the insignia of the Sovereign of the Order of Canada and of the Order of Military Merit

As the living embodiment of the Crown,[85] the sovereign is regarded as the personification of the Canadian state and,[n 11][34][65][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119] as such, must, along with his or her viceregal representatives, "remain strictly neutral in political terms".[71] 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][56] so, even in private, the monarch is always "on duty".[121] The terms the state, the Crown,[122] the Crown in Right of Canada, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (French: Sa Majesté la Reine du chef du Canada),[123] and similar are all synonymous and the monarch's legal personality is sometimes referred to simply as Canada.[113][124]

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),[126] state owned companies (Crown corporations), and the copyright for all government publications (Crown copyright).[127] 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 is at the apex of the Canadian order of precedence and, as the embodiment of the state, is also the locus of oaths of allegiance,[n 14][107][113][129][130] required of many of the aforementioned employees of the Crown, as well as by new citizens, as by the Oath of Citizenship. Allegiance is given in reciprocation to the sovereign's Coronation Oath,[131] wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of ... Canada ... according to their respective laws and customs".[132]

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,[121] the sovereign is regarded by official government sources,[41][133][134][135] judges,[136] constitutional scholars,[113][137] and pollsters as the head of state,[138] while the governor general and lieutenant governors are all only representatives of, and thus equally subordinate to, that figure.[139] Some governors general, their staff, government publications,[113] and constitutional scholars like Edward McWhinney and C. E. S. Franks have,[140][141] however, referred to the position of governor general as that of Canada's head of state,[142][143] though sometimes qualifying the assertion with de facto or effective;[144][145][146] Franks has hence recommended that the governor general be named officially as the head of state.[141] Still others view the role of head of state as being shared by both the sovereign and her viceroys.[147][148][149] Since 1927, governors general have been received on state visits abroad as though they were heads of state.[150]

Officials at Rideau Hall have attempted to use the Letters Patent of 1947 as justification for describing the governor general as head of state. However, the document makes no such distinction,[151] nor does it effect an abdication of the sovereign's powers in favour of the viceroy,[68] as it only allows the governor general to "act on The Queen's behalf".[152][153] Michael D. Jackson, former protocol officer for Saskatchewan, argued that Rideau Hall had been attempting to "recast" the governor general as head of state since the 1970s and doing so preempted both the Queen and all of the lieutenant governors.[139] 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)[154][155] and Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to accord herself precedence before the Queen at a national occasion,[156] but also constitutional issues by "unbalancing ... the federalist symmetry".[100][157] This has been regarded as both a natural evolution and as a dishonest effort to alter the constitution without public scrutiny.[151][158]

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,[138] 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).[159]

Federal constitutional role

King George VI (left), and William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada (right), share a moment of levity, 11 May 1937

Canada's constitution is based on the Westminster parliamentary model, wherein the role of the Queen is both legal and practical, but not political.[71] The sovereign is vested with all the powers of state, collectively known as the Royal Prerogative,[160] leading the populace to be considered subjects of the Crown.[161] However, as the sovereign's power stems from the people[30][162] 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 sole, with the monarch being the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government[163]—the executive, legislative, and judicial[10]—acting under the sovereign's authority,[113][164] which is entrusted for exercise by the politicians (the elected and appointed parliamentarians and the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from among them) and the judges and justices of the peace.[29] The monarchy has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity and the monarch as a "guardian of constitutional freedoms"[45][129] whose "job is to ensure that the political process remains intact and is allowed to function."[71]

The Great Seal of Canada used during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II

The Great Seal of Canada "signifies the power and authority of the Crown flowing from the sovereign to [the] parliamentary government"[165] and is applied to state documents such as royal proclamations and letters patent commissioning cabinet ministers, senators, judges, and other senior government officials.[166] The "lending" of royal authority to the Cabinet is illustrated by the great seal being entrusted by the governor general, the official keeper of the seal, to the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, who is ex officio the Registrar General of Canada.[166] Upon a change of government, the seal is temporarily returned to the governor general and then "lent" to the next incoming registrar general.[165]

The Crown is 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.[167] 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.[168][169][170]

Executive (Queen-in-Council)

The government of Canada—formally termed Her Majesty's Government[171]—is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her Privy Council;[171][172][173][174] what is technically known as the Queen-in-Council,[9] or sometimes the Governor-in-Council,[85] 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,"[149] which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet[175]—a committee of the Privy Council charged with advising the Crown on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative.[174] The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the swearing-in and resignation of prime ministers and other members of the ministry,[175] remains fully briefed through regular communications from her Canadian ministers, and holds audience with them whenever possible.[133] By convention, the content of these communications and meetings remains confidential so as to protect the impartiality of the monarch and her representative.[71][176] The appropriateness and viability of this tradition in an age of social media has been questioned.[177][178]

In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the ministerial advice tendered is typically binding,[179] meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule, the Cabinet ruling "in trust" for the monarch.[180] 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[29][164][181] and the royal and viceroyal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations (an exercise of the reserve powers),[n 15] thereby allowing the monarch to make sure "that the government conducts itself in compliance with the constitution."[149] There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen.[68][182][183]

The Royal Prerogative also extends to foreign affairs, including the ratification of treaties, alliances, international agreements, and declarations of war,[184] the accreditation of Canadian high commissioners and ambassadors and receipt of similar diplomats from foreign states,[185][186] and the issuance of Canadian passports,[187] which remain the sovereign's property.[188] It also includes the creation of dynastic and national honours,[189] though only the latter are established on official ministerial advice.

Parliament (Queen-in-Parliament)

King George VI, with Queen Elizabeth, grants Royal Assent to bills in the Canadian Senate, 1939

All laws in Canada are the monarch's and the sovereign is one of the three components of parliament[190][191]—formally called the Queen-in-Parliament[9]—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.[192] 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.[193] Members of Parliament must recite the Oath of Allegiance before they may take their seat. Further, the official opposition is traditionally dubbed as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition,[129][194][195] 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).[196]

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.[197]

Courts (Queen-on-the-Bench)

New Canadian citizens in a courtroom displaying on the focal wall a portrait of the sovereign and a rendition of the Royal Arms

The sovereign is responsible for rendering justice for all her subjects and is thus traditionally deemed the fount of justice,[198] her position in the Canadian courts formally dubbed the Queen on the Bench.[9] 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,[198] 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.[172] The monarch, and by extension the governor general, also grants immunity from prosecution,[199] exercises the royal prerogative of mercy and may pardon offences against the Crown,[200][201] 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 geographically isolated 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.[202][203] Usually important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of Canadian culture will warrant the presence of the monarch,[202] 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.

Prince Charles arrives at The Carlu in Toronto, Ontario, November 2009

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][221][222][223][224] sometimes these individuals are employed in asserting Canada's sovereignty over its territories.[n 17] 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,[226][227] responsible for orchestrating any official events in or for Canada that involve the Royal Family.[228]

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.[221][224] The invitation and expenses associated with these undertakings are usually borne by the associated organization.[221] 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.[229]

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 18]

Symbols, associations, and awards

The flag of the Canadian Forces, bearing the forces' emblem, which has at its apex a St. Edward's Crown, indicating the sovereign as the military's source of authority

The main symbol of the monarchy is the sovereign herself,[163] described as "the personal expression of the Crown in Canada,"[231] 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.[129] The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, and salutes.[232] 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,[233] the latter without referring to any specific monarch.

Since the days of King Louis XIV,[234] the monarch is the fount of all honours in Canada and the orders,[234][235] decorations, and medals form "an integral element of the Crown."[234] 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.[236][233]

Members of the Royal Family also act as ceremonial colonels-in-chief, commodores-in-chief, captains-general, air commodores-in-chief, generals, and admirals of various elements of the Canadian Forces, reflecting the Crown's relationship with the country's military through participation in events both at home and abroad.[n 19] The monarch also serves as the Commissioner-in-Chief, Prince Charles as Honorary Commissioner, and Prince Edward as Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[237]

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.

Canada's royal family and house

Four members of the Royal Family—Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Andrew; and Prince Edward—at the opening of the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta

The Canadian Royal Family is a group of people related to the country's monarch[238] and, as such, belonging to the House of Windsor. There is no legal definition of who is or is not a member of the group, though the Government of Canada maintains a list of immediate members,[239][240] and stipulates that those in the direct line of succession who bear the style of Royal Highness (Altesse Royale) are subjects of,[241] and owe their allegiance specifically to, the reigning king or queen of Canada.[242]

The family members bear lineage from, among others, Arab, Armenian, Cuman, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Mongolian, Portuguese, and Serbian ethnicities.[n 20][244] Moreover, they are distant relations of the Belgian, Danish, Greek, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish royal families[244] and, given the shared nature of the Canadian monarch, most are also of members of the British Royal Family. 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"[245]—as is frequently done by Canadian and other media[246][247]—and there exist some differences between the official lists of each.[n 21] Further, in addition to the five Canadian citizens in the Royal Family,[n 22] the sovereign and those among her relations who do not meet the requirements of Canadian citizenship law are considered Canadian,[253][254][255] which entitles them to Canadian consular assistance and the protection of the Queen's armed forces of Canada when they are in need of protection or aid outside of the Commonwealth realms,[242] as well as to substantive appointment to Canadian orders or receipt of Canadian decorations.[256][257] Beyond legalities, members of the Royal Family have, on occasion, been said by the media and non-governmental organisations to be Canadian,[n 23] have declared themselves to be Canadian,[n 24] and some past members have lived in Canada for extended periods as viceroy or for other reasons.[n 25]

Unlike in the United Kingdom, the monarch is the only member of the Royal Family with a title established through Canadian law. It would be possible for others to be granted distinctly Canadian titles (as is the case for the Duke of Rothesay (Prince Charles) in Scotland), but they have always been, and continue to only be, accorded the use of a courtesy title in Canada, which is that which they have been granted via letters patent in the UK, though they are also in Canada translated to French.[271]

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."[268] 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.[272] 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.[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. 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."[273] Princess Anne used it again when speaking at Rideau Hall in 2014.[274] By 2011, both Canadian and British media were referring to "Canada's royal family" or the "Canadian royal family".[275][276][277]

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

Rideau Hall, the principal Canadian official residence of Canada's sovereign, and their representative, the governor general

A number of buildings across Canada are reserved by the Crown for the use of the monarch and her viceroys. Each is called Government House, but may be customarily known by some specific name. The sovereign's and governor general's official residences are Rideau Hall in Ottawa and the Citadelle in Quebec City.[n 26] Each of these royal seats holds pieces from the Crown Collection.[291] 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,[292] 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.[293][294]

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;[295] the Marquess of Lorne and Princess Louise owned a cottage on the Cascapédia River in Quebec;[296] 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.[297][298]

La Citadelle, an official residence of Canada's sovereign, and their representative, the governor general

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,[228] 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,[299] the Queen's Honorary Physician, the Queen's Honorary Dental Surgeon, and the Queen's Honorary Nursing Officer[300]—the latter three being drawn from the Canadian Forces.[99] Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, also has a Canadian private secretary and his wife,[301] Sophie, Countess of Wessex, a lady-in-waiting.[302] Air transportation for the Royal Family is provided by the Royal Canadian Air Force 412 Transport Squadron.

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. There are also two chapels royal in Ontario.[303] Though not officially a royal chapel, St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church, located across MacKay Street from Rideau Hall, is regularly used by governors general and their families and sometimes by the sovereign and other members of the Royal Family, as well as by viceregal household staff, their families, and members of the Governor General's Foot Guards, for whom the church also serves as a regimental chapel.[304]


Further information: List of Canadian monarchs
Francis I of France; established colonies in Acadia and Canada, 1534

The Canadian monarchy can trace its ancestral lineage back to the kings of the Angles and the early Scottish kings and through the centuries since the claims of King Henry VII in 1497 and King Francis I in 1534; both being blood relatives of the current Canadian monarch. Former 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."[305] Though the first French and British colonizers of Canada interpreted the hereditary nature of some indigenous North American chieftainships as a form of monarchy,[306][307][308] 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 colony of Canada in the early 16th century;[44] according to historian Jacques Monet, the Canadian Crown is one of the few that have survived through uninterrupted succession since before its inception.[53]

Queen Victoria in 1870, three years after her Royal Assent to the British North America Act, creating the Canadian federation

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.[60][133][309] 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.[310][311] 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.[264] That act is said to have entrenched the monarchy in Canada,[312] 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.[104]

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.[157][313][314] But, provincial and federal ministers, along with loyal national citizen's organizations, ensured that the system remained the same in essence.[315] By 2002, the royal tour and associated fêtes for the Queen's Golden Jubilee proved popular with Canadians across the country,[316][317][318] 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,[319][320] the first such event in Canada since that for Victoria in 1897. On 9 September 2015, she became the second-longest reigning monarch in Canadian history (preceded only by King Louis XIV);[321] events were organised to celebrate her as the "longest-reigning sovereign in Canada's modern era."[322]

Public understanding

Princess Elizabeth Avenue, named for Queen Elizabeth II (formerly Princess Elizabeth)

It has been theorised the monarchy is so prevalent in Canada—by way of all manner of symbols, place names, royal tours, etc.—that Canadians fail to take note of it.

Commentators have in the late 20th and early 21st centuries stated that contemporary Canadians had and have a poor understanding of the Canadian monarchy,[323] Michael D. Jackson saying in his book The Crown and Canadian Federalism that this is part of a wider ignorance about Canadian civics.[324] While David Smith researched for his 1995 book The Invisible Crown, he found it difficult to "find anyone who could talk knowledgeably about the subject."[325] Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said there is "an abysmal lack of knowledge about the system"[326] 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 viceregal incumbents themselves."[327] These comments were echoed by teacher and author Nathan Tidridge, who asserted 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.[314] He said Canadians are being "educated to be illiterate, ambivalent, or even hostile toward our constitutional monarchy."[324] 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."[328] He later iterated: "the public's attention span on the constitutional intricacies of the monarchy is clinically short."[329]

John Pepall argued in 1990 that a "Liberal-inspired republican misconception of the role" of governor general had taken root, though the Conservative government headed by Brian Mulroney exacerbated the matter.[330] The position of prime minister has simultaneously undergone, with encouragement from its occupants,[330] what has been described as a "presidentialisation",[331][332] to the point that its incumbents publicly outshine the actual head of state.[333][334] Additionally, it has been theorised the monarchy is so prevalent in Canada—by way of all manner of symbols, place names, royal tours, etc.—that Canadians fail to take note of it; the monarchy "functions like a tasteful wallpaper pattern in Canada: enjoyable in an absent-minded way, but so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible."[255] David S. Donovan felt that Canadians mostly considered the monarch and her representatives as purely ceremonial and symbolic figures.[335] It was argued by Alfred Neitsch that this undermined the Crown's legitimacy as a check and balance in the governmental system.[336]

In the 2010s, a "growing interest in the Crown and its prerogatives" was observed, as evidenced by "a burst of articles, books and conferences." This was attributed to the coincidental occurrence of publicly prominent events over a number of years, including the 2008 prorogation dispute; an increased use of royal symbols as directed by the Cabinet while headed by Stephen Harper, including two consecutive royal tours; court cases focusing on the Oath of Citizenship; and increasingly active governors. Smith and Philippe Lagassé noted in early 2016 that post-secondary students were giving more focus to the subject of the Crown.[325]


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.[337] 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[338]) 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.[339][340][341] 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.[342][343] There are also other organizations that support and advocate the monarchy, such as the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada,[344] the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust,[345] the Orange Order in Canada,[346] the Friends of the Canadian Crown,[347] and Canadian Friends of the Royal Family.[348]

The idea of a uniquely Canadian monarch,[349] either one descended from the present queen or coming from a First Nations royal house,[49][350][351][352] has been proffered as an alternative. However, there has been no popular or official support for such a change.

See also


  1. The date of the first establishment of monarchy in Canada varies: some sources give the year as 1497, when John Cabot landed somewhere along the North American coast (most likely Nova Scotia or Newfoundland) claiming an undefined extent of land for King Henry VII,[37][38][39] while others put it at 1534, when the colony of Canada was founded in the name of King Francis I.[40][41][42][43][44][45] Although the exact date differs, the fact that a monarchical form of governance has existed since the 16th century is in common agreement.[46][47][48][49][50]
  2. The term was first coined by Governor General the Lord Grey in 1905, when he stated in a telegram to King Edward VII regarding the inauguration of Alberta and Saskatchewan into Confederation: "[each one] a new leaf in Your Majesty's Maple Crown".[42][54][55]
  3. 1 2 On a number of occasions, the sovereign has carried out foreign relations as the representative uniquely of Canada, such as the visits to the United States by King George VI in 1939 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.
  4. The English Court of Appeal ruled in 1982, while "there is only one person who is the Sovereign within the British Commonwealth ... in matters of law and government the Queen of the United Kingdom, for example, is entirely independent and distinct from the Queen of Canada."[58]
  5. In 1997, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair intended to offer a life peerage to Canadian businessman Conrad Black. However, citing the 1919 Nickle Resolution, the Canadian Cabinet advised the Queen not to grant Black such an honour. If Blair had not yielded, the Queen would have been in the situation of having to grant an honour on the advice of her British prime minister and to object to the same as Queen of Canada on the advice of then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
  6. For example, Edward VIII was never crowned, yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne.
  7. The only Canadian monarch to abdicate, Edward VIII, did so with the authorization of the Canadian government granted in His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, 1936, and the Succession to the Throne Act, 1937, later confirmed this in law.
  8. Gary Toffoli of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust stated that the approval given by the Queen in her Canadian Council in 1981 to the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer[91] separately to the same approval given by the Queen in her British Council illustrated the existence of the Royal Marriages Act in Canadian law.[92] In 1947, the King in his Canadian Council gave the same consent to the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten, again separate from the approval he gave in his British Council.[91]
  9. For example, if a lawsuit is filed against the federal government, the respondent is formally described as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, or simply Regina.[99] Likewise, in a case in which a party sues both the province of Saskatchewan and the federal government, the respondents would be formally called Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Saskatchewan and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.[102]
  10. Illustrative of this arrangement is property transfers; of this, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources states: "When public land is required by the federal government or one of its departments, or any provincial ministry, the land itself is not transferred. What is transferred is the responsibility to manage the lands on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen (HMQ). This is accomplished by an Order in Council or a Minister's Order which transfers management of land either from HMQ in right of Ontario to HMQ in right of Canada as represented by a department or to HMQ in right of Ontario as represented by another ministry. The Crown does not transfer ownership to itself."[103]
  11. The sovereign has been described by Eugene Forsey as the "symbolic embodiment of the people—not a particular group or interest or party, but the people, the whole people";[71] his daughter, Helen Forsey, said of his opinion on the Crown: "For him, the essence of the monarchy was its impartial representation of the common interests of the citizenry as a whole, as opposed to those of any particular government."[71] The Department of Canadian Heritage said the Crown serves as the "personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians,"[60][107] a concept akin to that expressed by King Louis XIV: "l'État, c'est moi", or, "I am the state".[108] Robertson Davies stated in 1994: "the Crown is the consecrated spirit of Canada,"[109] and past Ontario chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada Gary Toffoli opined: "The Queen is the legal embodiment of the state at both the national and the provincial levels ... she is our sovereign and it is the role of the Queen, recognized by the constitutional law of Canada, to embody the state."[110]
  12. As Peter Boyce put it: "The Crown as a concept cannot be disentangled from the person of the monarch, but standard reference to the Crown extends well beyond the Queen's person."[120]
  13. The Supreme Court found in the 1980 case Attorney General of Quebec v. Labrecque that civil servants in Canada are not contracted by an abstraction called "the state", but rather they are employed by the monarch, who "enjoys a general capacity to contract in accordance with the rule of ordinary law."[125]
  14. It is stated in the Rules & Forms of the House of Commons of Canada that "allegiance to the King means allegiance to the Country."[128]
  15. See 'Responsibilities' and Note 1 at Cabinet of Canada.
  16. 1 2 3 Though the Royal Family represents other countries abroad, as directed by their respective cabinets, and typically the governor general will undertake state visits and other foreign duties on behalf of the Queen of Canada,[113][204][205] members of the Royal Family will also take part in Canadian events overseas.[206][207][208][209][210][211][212][213][214][215][216][217][218][219][220]
  17. In 1970, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne undertook a tour of Northern Canada, in part to demonstrate to an unconvinced American government and the Soviet Union that Canada had certain claim to its Arctic territories, which were strategic during the Cold War.[225]
  18. Former external affairs minister Mitchell Sharp commented on a situation wherein Elizabeth II was in Latin America to promote British goods at the same time a Canadian ministerial trip to the same area was underway to promote Canadian products. Sharp stated: "We couldn't ask Her Majesty to perform the function she was performing for Britain on that Latin American trip because the Queen is never recognized as Queen of Canada, except when she is in Canada."[230] The Queen's participation in Canadian events overseas contradicts Sharp's statement, however.[n 3][n 16]
  19. Such events include Troopings of the Colour, inspections of the troops, and anniversaries of key battles; whenever the sovereign or a member of her family is in Ottawa, they lay a wreath at the National War Memorial.
  20. Moroccan and Chinese officials claim, respectively, that members of the Royal Family are also directly descended from the Islamic prophet, Muhammad and Tang Dynasty Chinese Emperors.[243]
  21. 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.[248]
  22. Two Canadian citizens married into the Royal Family: In 1988, Sylvana Jones (née Tomaselli in Placentia, Newfoundland) wed George Windsor, 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.[249] The latter couple has two children, 14th and 15th in line to the throne, who each hold dual Canadian and British citizenship,[250][251] as do the three children of George Windsor, though only the youngest, Lady Amelia Windsor, is in line to the throne, currently 36th.[252] More distantly, Princes Boris and Hermann Friedrich of Leiningen, great-great-great grandsons of Queen Victoria, are also Canadian citizens.
  23. As early as 1959, it was recognized that the Queen was "equally at home in all her realms";[258] By the 1960s, loyal societies in Canada recognized the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, as a "Canadian princess";[259] and, 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".[260][261]
  24. Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, said in 1951 that when in Canada she was "amongst fellow countrymen".[69][262] When queen, she, in 1983, before departing the United States for Canada, said "I'm going home to Canada tomorrow" and,[263] in 2005, said she agreed with the statement earlier made by her mother, Queen Elizabeth, that Canada felt like a "home away from home."[264] Similarly, the Queen stated in 2010, in Nova Scotia, "it is very good to be home."[265]
  25. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, served as the Commander of British North American troops in Canada's Maritimes for nine years after 1791, mostly in Halifax;[266] his granddaughter, Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, lived in Canada between 1878 and 1883 as viceregal consort;[267] and her brother, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, resided in Canada first through 1870 as a member of the Canadian Militia, defending Canada from the Fenian Raids,[268] and then as governor general from 1911 until 1916.[269] Later, for six years beginning in 1940, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (a great-grandchild of the Duke of Kent), lived in Canada with her husband, the Earl of Athlone (himself a great-grandchild of King George III),[268] while he served as governor general.[270]
  26. While the government houses are the Queen's official residences in Canada, they are almost exclusively occupied by the sovereign's representative in each of those jurisdictions that have a government house or houses.[278] Two government houses—Rideau Hall and the Citadelle of Quebec—are regarded as federal residences of the Canadian monarch and his or her representative, the governor general.[279][280][281][282][283][284][285][286][287][288][289][290]


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