Although the person of the sovereign is shared with 14 other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct.[d] As a result, the current monarch is officially titledKing of Canada and, in this capacity, he and other members of the royal family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of Canada. However, the monarch is the only member of the royal family with any constitutional role. The monarch 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 monarch's representative, the governor general of Canada.[e] In Canada's provinces, the monarch in right of each is represented by a lieutenant governor. As territories fall under the federal jurisdiction, they each have a commissioner, rather than a lieutenant governor, who represents the federal Crown-in-Council directly.
As all executive authority is vested in the sovereign, royal 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, executive authority remains vested in the Crown and is only entrusted by the sovereign to the government on behalf of the people. This underlines the Crown's role in safeguarding the rights, freedoms, and democratic system of government of Canadians, reinforcing the fact that "governments are the servants of the people and not the reverse". Thus, within Canada's constitutional monarchy the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is normally limited, with the sovereign typically exercising executive authority only with the advice and consent of the Cabinet of Canada, and the sovereign's legislative and judicial responsibilities largely carried out through the Parliament of Canada as well as judges and justices of the peace. However, there are cases where the sovereign or their representative would have a duty to act directly and independently under the doctrine of necessity to prevent genuinely unconstitutional acts. In these respects, the sovereign and his viceroys are custodians of the Crown's reserve powers and represent the "power of the people above government and political parties". Put another way, the Crown functions as the guarantor of Canada's continuous and stable governance and as a nonpartisan safeguard against the abuse of power.[f]
Canada is one of the oldest extant monarchies in the world. Established in the 16th century,[n 1] the monarchy has evolved through a continuous succession of initially French and later British sovereigns into the independent Canadian sovereigns of today.[j] The institution that is Canada's system of constitutional monarchy is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Maple Crown.[n 2]
King Charles is the reigning sovereign of each of the 15 Commonwealth realms.
The person who is the Canadian sovereign is equally shared with 14 other monarchies (a grouping, including Canada, known informally as the Commonwealth realms) in the 56-member Commonwealth of Nations. The monarch resides predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom; viceroys (the governor general of Canada in the federal sphere and a lieutenant governor in each province) are 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. Since then, the pan-national Crown has had both a shared and a separate character: the sovereign's role as monarch of Canada has been distinct from his or her position as monarch of any other realm,[n 3][k] including the United Kingdom.[n 4][l] Only Canadian federal ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on any and all matters of the Canadian state,[n 5][m] of which the sovereign, when not in Canada, is kept abreast by weekly communications with the federal viceroy. The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution and in Canada became a Canadian,[n] or "domesticated", establishment, though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language, 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 he 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,[o] and the like, as well as Canadian Forces aircraft or other Canadian-owned vehicles for travel. Once in Canadian airspace, or arrived at a Canadian event taking place abroad, the Canadian Secretary to the King, 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 King or other member of the royal family.
The sovereign similarly only draws from Canadian funds for support in the performance of his duties when in Canada or acting as King of Canada abroad; Canadians do not pay any money to the King or any other member of the royal family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Canada.
Upon the death of the monarch, there is a demise (transfer) of the Crown: the late sovereign's heir immediately and automatically succeeds, without any need for confirmation or further ceremony; hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King". 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. An appropriate period of mourning also follows, during which portraits of the recently deceased monarch are draped with black fabric and staff at government houses wear customary black armbands. The Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada states the prime minister is responsible for convening Parliament, tabling a resolution of loyalty and condolence from Parliament to the new monarch, and arranging for the motion to be seconded by the leader of the Official Opposition. The prime minister will then move to adjourn parliament. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation keeps a regularly updated plan for a "broadcast of national importance" announcing the demise of a sovereign and covering the aftermath, during which all regular programming and advertising is cancelled and on-call commentators contribute to a 24-hour news mode. The day of the funeral is likely to be a public holiday.
The new monarch is crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 6] Under the federal Interpretation Act, officials who hold a federal office under the Crown are not affected by the death of the monarch, nor are they required to take the Oath of Allegiance again. All references in federal 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. 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
Legal aspects of succession
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 VIIIabdicated and any possible future descendants of his were excluded from the line of succession. The British government at the time, wishing for speed so as to avoid embarrassing debate in Dominion parliaments, suggested that the governments of the Dominions of the British Commonwealth—then Australia, New Zealand, the Irish Free State, the Union of South Africa, and Canada—regard whoever was monarch of the UK to automatically be monarch of their respective Dominion. As with the other Dominion governments, the Canadian Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, refused to accept the idea and stressed that the laws of succession were part of Canadian law and, as the Statute of Westminster 1931 disallowed the UK from legislating for Canada, including in relation to succession, altering them required Canada's request and consent to the British legislation (His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936) becoming part of Canadian law. Sir Maurice Gwyer, first parliamentary counsel in the UK, reflected this position, stating the Act of Settlement was a part of the law in each Dominion. Thus, Order in Council P.C. 3144 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. The latter was deemed by the Cabinet in 1947 to be part of Canadian law.[n 8] The Department of External Affairs included all succession-related laws in its list of acts within Canadian law.
The Supreme Court of Canada declared unanimously in the 1981 Patriation Reference that the Bill of Rights 1689 is "undoubtedly in force as part of the law of Canada". Furthermore, in O'Donohue v. Canada (2003) the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that the Act of Settlement 1701 is "part of the laws of Canada" and the rules of succession are "by necessity incorporated into the Constitution of Canada". Another ruling of the Ontario Superior Court, in 2014, echoed the 2003 case, stating that the Act of Settlement "is an imperial statute which ultimately became part of the law of Canada." Upon dismissing appeal of that case, the Court of Appeal of Ontario stated "[t]he rules of succession are a part of the fabric of the constitution of Canada and incorporated into it".
In a meeting of the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution during the process of patriating the Canadian constitution in 1981, John Munro asked then Minister of JusticeJean Chrétien about the "selective omissions" of the Succession to the Throne Act 1937, the Demise of the Crown Act 1901, the Seals Act, the Governor General's Act, and the Royal Style and Titles Act, 1953, from the schedule to the Constitution Act, 1982. In response, Chrétien asserted that the schedule to the Constitution Act, 1982, was not exhaustive, outlining that section 52(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 says "[t]he Constitution of Canada includes... the Acts and orders referred to the schedule" and "[w]hen you use the word 'includes'... it means that if ever there is another thing related to the Canadian constitution as part of it, should have been there, or might have been there, it is covered. So we do not have to renumerate [sic] the ones that you are mentioning." In the same meeting, Deputy Attorney General Barry Strayer stated: "Clause 52(2) is not an exhaustive definition of the Constitution of Canada so that while we have certain things listed in the schedule which are clearly part of the constitution, that does not mean that there are not other things which are part of the constitution... [The schedule] is not an exhaustive list."
In the 1991 publication Constitutional Change in the Commonwealth, author Leslie Zines claimed that, though the succession to Canada's throne was outlined by common law and the Act of Settlement 1701, these were not part of the Canadian constitution, which "does not contain rules for succession to the throne." Richard Toporoski, writing three years later for the Monarchist League of Canada, stated, "there is no existing provision in our law, other than the Act of Settlement 1701, that provides that the King or Queen of Canada shall be the same person as the King or Queen of the United Kingdom. If the British law were to be changed and we did not change our law [...] the person provided for in the new law would become king or queen in at least some realms of the Commonwealth; Canada would continue on with the person who would have become monarch under the previous 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 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. In dismissing a challenge to the law on the basis that a change to the succession in Canada would require unanimous consent of all provinces under section 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, Quebec Superior Court Justice Claude Bouchard ruled that Canada "did not have to change its laws nor its constitution for the British royal succession rules to be amended and effective" and constitutional convention committed Canada to having a line of succession symmetrical to those of other Commonwealth realms. The ruling was upheld by the Quebec Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal in April 2020.
The throne of Canada (left) and throne for the royal consort (right) behind the speaker's chair in the Senate
Constitutional scholar Philippe Lagassé argues that, in light of the Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, and court rulings upholding that law, section 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, which requires a constitutional amendment passed with the unanimous consent of the provinces, applies only to the "office of the Queen", but not who holds that office, and that therefore "ending the principle of symmetry with the United Kingdom can be done with the general amending procedure, or even by parliament alone under section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982."
Constitutional scholar Ted McWhinney has also argued that a future government of Canada could begin a process of phasing out the monarchy after the death of Elizabeth II "quietly and without fanfare by simply failing legally to proclaim any successor to the Queen in relation to Canada". This would, he claimed, be a way of bypassing the need for a constitutional amendment that would require unanimous consent by the federal parliament and all the provincial legislatures. However, Ian Holloway, Dean of Law at the University of Western Ontario, criticized McWhinney's proposal for its ignorance of provincial input and opined that its implementation "would be contrary to the plain purpose of those who framed our system of government."
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; this prohibition has been upheld twice by Canadian courts, once in 2003 and again in 2014.[p]
Canada has no laws allowing for a regency, should the sovereign be a minor or debilitated; 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, 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.[q] Lagassé states that the Letters Patent 1947 were apparently written to avoid the need for a Canadian regency act and "appear to give governors general the power to appoint their own successors", though this is a power that has not been utilized to date.
Participants of a viceregal and territorial commissioner's conference in 2016. There are 11 viceroys that represent the Canadian monarch in their respective jurisdictions.
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 monarch. Although Canada is a federation, the Canadian monarchy is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the country, 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. The Crown thus links the various governments into a federal state,[dead link] though it is simultaneously also "divided" into eleven legal jurisdictions, or eleven "crowns"—one federal and ten provincial—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.
The governor general is appointed by the monarch on the advice of his 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.
Personification of the Canadian state
The Great Seal of Canada used during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II
As the living embodiment of the Crown, the sovereign is regarded as the personification of the Canadian state and,[n 11][x] as such, must, along with his or her viceregal representatives, "remain strictly neutral in political terms". The person 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] so, even in private, the monarch is always "on duty". The terms the state, the Crown,the Crown in Right of Canada, His Majesty the King in Right of Canada (French: Sa Majesté le Roi du chef du Canada), and similar are all synonymous and the monarch's legal personality is sometimes referred to simply as Canada.
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), state owned companies (Crown corporations), and the copyright for all government publications (Crown copyright). 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.
Photo portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the front of a citizenship ceremony. The sovereign is the focus of the Oath of Citizenship.
Although 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, the sovereign is regarded by official government sources,[z] judges, constitutional scholars, and pollsters as the head of state, while the governor general and lieutenant governors are all only representatives of, and thus equally subordinate to, that figure. Some governors general, their staff, government publications, and constitutional scholars like Ted McWhinney and C. E. S. Franks have, however, referred to the position of governor general as that of Canada's head of state, though sometimes qualifying the assertion with de facto or effective;[aa] Franks has hence recommended that the governor general be named officially as the head of state. Still others view the role of head of state as being shared by both the sovereign and her viceroys.[ab] Since 1927, governors general have been received on state visits abroad as though they were heads of state.
Officials at Rideau Hall have attempted to use the Letters Patent, 1947 as justification for describing the governor general as head of state. However, the document makes no such distinction, nor does it effect an abdication of the sovereign's powers in favour of the viceroy, as it only allows the governor general to "act on The Queen's behalf". Dr. D. Michael Jackson, former Chief of Protocol of 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. 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) and Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to accord herself precedence before the Queen at a national occasion, but also constitutional issues by "unbalancing ... the federalist symmetry". This has been regarded as both a natural evolution and as a dishonest effort to alter the constitution without public scrutiny.
In a poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid following the first prorogation of the 40th parliament on 4 December 2008, it was found that 42 per cent of the sample group thought the prime minister was head of state, while 33 per cent felt it was the governor general. Only 24 per cent named the Queen as head of state, a number up from 2002, when the results of an EKOS Research Associates survey showed only 5 per cent of those polled knew the Queen was head of state (69 per cent answered that it was the prime minister).
Canada's constitution is based on the Westminster parliamentary model, wherein the role of the King is both legal and practical, but not political. The sovereign is vested with all the powers of state, collectively known as the royal prerogative, leading the populace to be considered subjects of the Crown. However, as the sovereign's power stems from the people 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—the executive, legislative, and judicial—acting under the sovereign's authority, 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. The monarchy has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity and the monarch as a "guardian of constitutional freedoms" whose "job is to ensure that the political process remains intact and is allowed to function."
The Great Seal of Canada "signifies the power and authority of the Crown flowing from the sovereign to [the] parliamentary government" and is applied to state documents such as royal proclamations and letters patent commissioning cabinet ministers, senators, judges, and other senior government officials. 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. Upon a change of government, the seal is temporarily returned to the governor general and then "lent" to the next incoming registrar general.
The government of Canada—formally termed His Majesty's Government—is defined by the constitution as the King acting on the advice of his Privy Council;[ac] what is technically known as the King-in-Council, or sometimes the Governor-in-Council, referring to the governor general as the King's stand-in, though, a few tasks must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent from, the King.[ad] One of the main duties of the Crown is to "ensure that a democratically elected government is always in place," which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet—a committee of the Privy Council charged with advising the Crown on the exercise of the royal prerogative. The monarch is informed by his viceroy of the swearing-in and resignation of prime ministers and other members of the ministry, remains fully briefed through regular communications from his Canadian ministers, and holds audience with them whenever possible. By convention, the content of these communications and meetings remains confidential so as to protect the impartiality of the monarch and his representative. The appropriateness and viability of this tradition in an age of social media has been questioned.
In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the ministerial advice tendered is typically binding, meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule, the Cabinet ruling "in trust" for the monarch. 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 of France. However, the royal prerogative belongs to the Crown and not to any of the ministers[ae] 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." Use of the royal prerogative in this manner was seen when the Governor General refused his Prime Minister's advice to dissolve parliament in 1926 and when, in 2008, the Governor General took some hours to decide whether or not to accept her Prime Minister's advice to prorogue parliament to avoid a vote of non-confidence. The prerogative powers have also been used numerous times in the provinces.
The royal prerogative further extends to foreign affairs, including the ratification of treaties, alliances, international agreements, and declarations of war, the accreditation of Canadian high commissioners and ambassadors and receipt of similar diplomats from foreign states, and the issuance of Canadian passports, which remain the sovereign's property. It also includes the creation of dynastic and nationalhonours, though only the latter are established on official ministerial advice.
All laws in Canada are the monarch's and the sovereign is one of the three components of the Parliament of Canada—formally called the King-in-Parliament—but the monarch and viceroy do not participate in the legislative process save for 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. 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. Members of Parliament must recite the Oath of Allegiance before they may take their seat. Further, the official opposition is traditionally dubbed as His Majesty's Loyal Opposition,[af] 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).
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 King or his rights unless the act states that it does.
The monarch does not personally rule in judicial cases; this function of the royal prerogative is instead performed in trust and in the King's name by officers of His Majesty's court. Common law holds the notion that the sovereign "can do no wrong": the monarch cannot be prosecuted in his own courts—judged by himself—for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the King-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 King of Canada is not subject to suit in foreign courts without his express consent. Within the royal prerogative is also the granting of immunity from prosecution, mercy, and pardoning offences against the Crown. Since 1878, the prerogative of pardon has always been exercised upon the recommendation of ministers.
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. Usually important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of Canadian culture will warrant the presence of the monarch, 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][ah] 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, responsible for orchestrating any official events in or for Canada that involve the royal family.
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. The invitation and expenses associated with these undertakings are usually borne by the associated organization. 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.
Apart from Canada, the King and other members of the royal family regularly perform public duties in the other fourteen Commonwealth realms in which the King 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]
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 himself, described as "the personal expression of the Crown in Canada," and his image is thus used to signify Canadian sovereignty and government authority—his image, for instance, appearing on currency, and his portrait in government buildings. The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, and salutes. 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, the latter without referring to any specific monarch.
Since the days of King Louis XIV, the monarch is the fount of all honours in Canada and the orders, decorations, and medals form "an integral element of the Crown." Hence, the insignia and medallions for these awards bear a crown, cypher, and/or portrait 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.
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 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. All Canadian coins bear the image of the monarch with an inscription Dei Gratia Regina, a Latin phrase for By the Grace of God, Queen.
Significance to Canadian identity
I want the Crown in Canada to represent everything that is best and most admired in the Canadian ideal. I will continue to do my best to make it so during my lifetime.
In his 1990 book, Continental Divide: the Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada,Seymour Martin Lipset argues that the presence of the monarchy in Canada helps distinguish Canadian identity from American identity. Since at least the 1930s, supporters of the Crown have held the opinion that the Canadian monarch is also one of the rare unified elements of Canadian society, focusing both "the historic consciousness of the nation" and various forms of patriotism and national love "[on] the point around which coheres the nation's sense of a continuing personality". Former Governor General Vincent Massey articulated in 1967 that the monarchy "is part of ourselves. It is linked in a very special way with our national life. It stands for qualities and institutions which mean Canada to every one of us and which for all our differences and all our variety have kept Canada Canadian." But, according to Arthur Bousfield and Gary Toffoli, Canadians were, through the late 1960s to the 2000s, encouraged by the federal government to "neglect, ignore, forget, reject, debase, suppress, even hate, and certainly treat as foreign what their parents and grandparents, whether spiritual or blood, regarded as the basis of Canadian nationhood, autonomy, and history", including the monarchy. Former Governor General Roland Michener said in 1970 that anti-monarchists claimed the Canadian Crown is foreign and incompatible with Canada's multicultural society, which the government promoted as a Canadian identifier, and Lawrence Martin called in 2007 for Canada to become a republic in order to "re-brand the nation". However, Michener also stated, "[the monarchy] is our own by inheritance and choice, and contributes much to our distinctive Canadian identity and our chances of independent survival amongst the republics of North and South America." Journalist Christina Blizzard emphasized in 2009 that the monarchy "made [Canada] a haven of peace and justice for immigrants from around the world", while Michael Valpy contended in 2009 that the Crown's nature permitted non-conformity amongst its subjects, thereby opening the door to multiculturalism and pluralism.
The Canadian royal family is the group of people who are relatively closely related to the country's monarch and, as such, belonging to the House of Windsor. There is no legal definition of who is or is not a member of the royal family, though the Government of Canada maintains a list of immediate family members, and stipulates that those in the direct line of succession who bear the style of Royal Highness (French: Altesse Royale) are subjects of, and owe their allegiance specifically to, the reigning king or queen of Canada. Unlike in the United Kingdom, the monarch is the only member of the royal family with a title established through Canadian law and is styled by convention as His/Her Majesty, as would be a queen consort. Otherwise, the remaining family members are, as a courtesy, styled and titled as they are in the UK, according to letters patent issued there. Though, in Canada, these are also translated to French.
They are distant relations of the Belgian, Danish, Greek, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish royal families 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 inappropriate to refer in the Canadian context to the family of the monarch as the "British royal family"—as is frequently done by Canadian and other media—and there exist some differences between the official lists of each.[n 20] Further, in addition to the five Canadian citizens in the royal family,[n 21] the sovereign is considered Canadian,[ai] and those among his relations who do not meet the requirements of Canadian citizenship law are considered Canadian, which entitles them to Canadian consular assistance and the protection of the King's armed forces of Canada when they are in need of protection or aid outside of the Commonwealth realms, as well as to substantive appointment to Canadian orders or receipt of Canadian decorations. Beyond legalities, members of the royal family have, on occasion, been said by the media and non-governmental organizations to be Canadian,[n 22] have declared themselves to be Canadian,[n 23] and some past members have lived in Canada for extended periods as viceroy or for other reasons.[n 24]
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". 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. 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." Princess Anne used it again when speaking at Rideau Hall in 2014, as did the now King Charles in Halifax the same year. Also in 2014, then-Premier of SaskatchewanBrad Wall called Prince Edward a member of the Canadian royal family. By 2011, both Canadian and British media were referring to "Canada's royal family" or the "Canadian royal family".[aj]
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.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is tasked with providing security to the sovereign, the governor general (starting from when he or she is made governor general-designate), and other members of the royal family; as outlined in the RCMP Regulations, the force "has a duty to protect individuals designated by the Minister of Public Safety, including certain members of the royal family when visiting." The RCMP's provision of service is determined based on threat and risk assessment, the seniority of the individual in terms of precedence, and,[n 26] for members of the royal family, the nature of the royal tour—ie an official tour on behalf of the Queen or a working or private visit. The governor general receives round-the-clock security from the Governor General Protection Detail, part of the Personal Protection Group, based at Rideau Hall.
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, Magna Carta, habeas corpus, petition of rights, and English common law." Though the first French and British colonizers of Canada interpreted the hereditary nature of some indigenous North American chieftainships as a form of monarchy,[al] 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 the French colony of Canada in the early 16th century; according to historian Jacques Monet, the Canadian Crown is one of the few that have survived through uninterrupted succession since before its inception.
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. That act is said to have entrenched the monarchy in Canada, 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.
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.[an] But, provincial and federal ministers, along with loyal national citizen's organizations, ensured that the system remained the same in essence.
By 2002, the royal tour and associated fêtes for the Queen's Golden Jubilee proved popular with Canadians across the country, though Canada's first republican organization since the 1830s was also founded that year. Celebrations took place across the country to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, 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); events were organized to celebrate her as the "longest-reigning sovereign in Canada's modern era."Prince Charles represented his mother, the Queen, two years later, at the main events in Ottawa recognizing the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queen expressed her support for all Canadians and thanks to those who were caring for the vulnerable and providing essential services. As the pandemic waned into 2022, celebrations were mounted around the country and throughout the year to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee; the first-ever such event in Canadian history. It was also, though, the first time since at least Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 that the federal Cabinet did not advise the Crown to issue an associated commemorative medal. In response, six provinces produced their own Platinum Jubilee medals; another first. From 2021 into 2022, the subject of reconciliation with Canada's indigenous peoples came to the forefront of the public consciousness, particularly in regard to residential schools. Statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II in Winnipeg were vandalized. On the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Elizabeth made a public statement, saying she "joins with all Canadians [...] to reflect on the painful history that indigenous peoples endured in residential schools in Canada and on the work that remains to heal and to continue to build an inclusive society." In 2021, the Queen appointed Mary Simon as the first indigenous governor general in Canadian history.[n 27]
Commentators have in the late 20th and early 21st centuries stated that contemporary Canadians had and have a poor understanding of the Canadian monarchy; something the Monarchist League of Canada (MLC) claims opponents of the monarchy exacerbate by spreading disinformation and then take advantage of. Michael D Jackson wrote in his book The Crown and Canadian Federalism that this is part of a wider ignorance about Canadian civics and, 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". Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said there is "an abysmal lack of knowledge about the system" and Senator Lowell Murray wrote in 2003: "The Crown has become irrelevant to most Canadians' 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".
A nickel with the effigy of Elizabeth II on the reverse side of the coin
An Ontario vehicle licence plate showing the silhouette of the Crown
It has been theorized 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.
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. He said Canadians are being "educated to be illiterate, ambivalent, or even hostile toward our constitutional monarchy". The MLC agreed, stating Canada has "an educational system which unfortunately often fails to provide comprehensive knowledge of Canada’s constitution."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." He later iterated: "the public's attention span on the constitutional intricacies of the monarchy is clinically short".
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. The position of prime minister has simultaneously undergone, with encouragement from its occupants, what has been described as a "presidentialization", to the point that its incumbents publicly outshine the actual head of state. Additionally, it has been theorized 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".
David S. Donovan feels that Canadians mostly consider the monarch and her representatives as purely ceremonial and symbolic figures. It was argued by Alfred Neitsch that this undermined the Crown's legitimacy as a check and balance in the governmental system, a situation Helen Forsey (daughter of Canadian constitutional expert Eugene Forsey) said prime ministers take advantage of, portraying themselves as the embodiment of popular democracy and the reserve powers of the Crown as illegitimate.[n 28]
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.
To date, outside of academic circles, there has been little national debate on the monarchy. The position of monarch in Canada is highly protected by the Constitution Act, 1982 (which mandates that any major constitutional amendment, such as any change to the monarchy, requires unanimous consent of the Senate, the House of Commons, and all ten provincial parliaments), and treaties between the Crown and Indigenous peoples that play a role in entrenching the monarchy.
Out of Canada's four most prominent political parties, neither the Liberal Party nor the Conservative Party are officially in favour of abolishing the monarchy (the Conservative Party cite support for constitutional monarchy as a founding principle in its policy declaration) and the New Democratic Party 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.
Opinion polls on the Canadian monarchy have been regularly conducted since the 1990s. An analysis of these polls in 2008 highlighted an increased disaffection with the monarchy, albeit with internal contradictions in specific polling results; with some criticizing the polling question for using "inconsistent and sometimes ambiguous wording." Both monarchists and republicans agree the populace's general lack of understanding about the monarchy affects opinions.
The idea of a uniquely Canadian monarch, either one descended from the House of Windsor or coming from a First Nations royal house, has been proffered as an alternative. Some Canadian monarchists have even suggested that all the Commonwealth realms should have their own resident monarchs. However, there has been no popular or official support for such a change.
^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,[g] while others put it at 1534, when the colony of Canada was founded in the name of King Francis I.[h] Although the exact date differs, the fact that a monarchical form of governance has existed since the 16th century is in common agreement.[i]
^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."
^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 separately to the same approval given by the Queen in her British Council illustrated the existence of the Royal Marriages Act in Canadian law. 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.
^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. 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.
^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."
^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"; 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." The Department of Canadian Heritage said the Crown serves as the "personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians," a concept akin to that expressed by King Louis XIV: "l'État, c'est moi", or, "I am the state".Robertson Davies stated in 1994: "the Crown is the consecrated spirit of Canada," 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."
^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."
^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."
^It is stated in the Rules & Forms of the House of Commons of Canada that "allegiance to the King means allegiance to the Country."
^ abcThough 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, members of the royal family will also take part in Canadian events overseas.[ag]
^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." The Queen's participation in Canadian events overseas contradicts Sharp's statement, however.[n 3][n 16]
^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.
^Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, said in 1951 that when in Canada she was "amongst fellow countrymen". When queen, she, in 1983, before departing the United States for Canada, said "I'm going home to Canada tomorrow" and, in 2005, said she agreed with the statement earlier made by her mother, Queen Elizabeth, that Canada felt like a "home away from home". Similarly, the Queen stated in 2010, in Nova Scotia, "it is very good to be home".
^While the government houses are the King'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.
^For example, when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex resided for a time on Vancouver Island, as they were planning their future as members of the royal family, the RCMP provided the couple's security. However, when the Sussexes decided to step down as senior members of the royal family, the RCMP reassessed its provision of service. In a briefing note to the then-Minister of Public Safety, Bill Blair, the force noted, "the Sussex family's stay in Canada is of a private nature and, to date, there have been no official outings wherein the Duke and Duchess are representing the Queen. There is no indication of either the Duke or Duchess participating in any official capacity for the Crown in Canada in the next two months. Should this change, however, the RCMP will assess and provide security accordingly."
^Indigenous persons had already been appointed as lieutenant governors during Elizabeth's reign.
^ abMonet, Jacques (2007). "Crown and Country"(PDF). Canadian Monarchist News. Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada. Summer 2007 (26): 8. Archived from the original(PDF) on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
^Grey, Albert (1 September 1905) [4 March 1905]. "Grey to Edward VII". In Doig, Ronald P. (ed.). Earl Grey's Papers: An Introductory Survey (1 ed.). London: Private Libraries Association.
^R v Foreign Secretary, Ex parte Indian Association (as referenced in High Court of Australia: Sue v Hill  HCA 30; 23 June 1999; S179/1998 and B49/1998), QB 892 at 928 (English Court of Appeal June 1999).
^Mallory, J.R. (August 1956). "Seals and Symbols: From Substance to Form in Commonwealth Equality". The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science. Montreal: Blackwell Publishing. 22 (3): 281–291. doi:10.2307/138434. ISSN0008-4085. JSTOR138434.
^ abParliament of Canada; 32nd Parliament (1st Session) (5 February 1981), Minutes of the Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, vol. 54 (106 ed.), Queen's Printer for Canada((citation)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
^Royal Household. "The Queen's speech in Toronto, Canada, 5 July 2010". Queen's Printer. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Just as in 1957, when I last visited the UN, I shall be travelling from this Northern Realm as Queen of Canada, a country whose whole-hearted commitment to the United Nations throughout its history is without equal.
^Chief Myles Venne and all of the Councllors of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of Saskatchewan, Q.B. No. 2655 of 1987 (Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan 14 July 1987).
^Legislative Assembly of Ontario (1996). "Committee Transcripts". Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly - 1996-Apr-10 - Bill 22, Legislative Assembly Oath of Allegiance Act, 1995. Toronto: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
^EKOS Research Associates (30 May 2002). "F. Monarchy"(PDF). Trust and the Monarchy: an examination of the shifting public attitudes toward government and institutions. Montreal: EKOS Research Associates. p. 47. Archived from the original(PDF) on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
^Waite, P. B. (2000). "Campbell, John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland, Marquess of Lorne and 9th Duke of Argyll". In English, John (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. XIV. Ottawa: University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
^Jackson, Michael D. (2009). "The Senior Realms of the Queen"(PDF). Canadian Monarchist News. Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada. Autumn 2009 (30): 10. Archived from the original(PDF) on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
^Gillespie, Kevin (2010). "A Uniquely Canadian Crown?"(PDF). Canadian Monarchist News. Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada. Spring-Summer 2010 (31): 11. Archived from the original(PDF) on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
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