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Monarchy of Canada

Queen of Canada

Style Her Majesty
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales[1]
First monarch Victoria[2][3]
Formation 1 July 1867
Residence Rideau Hall, Ottawa

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The monarchy of Canada is the core of both Canada's federalism and its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy,[4] being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal and each provincial government.[5][6][7] The current Canadian monarch, since 6 February 1952, is Queen Elizabeth II. Although the person of the sovereign is equally shared with fifteen other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct. As a result, the current monarch is officially titled Queen of Canada and, in this capacity, she, her consort, and other members of the Canadian Royal Family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of the Canadian state. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. The Queen lives predominantly in the United Kingdom and, while several powers are the sovereign's alone, most of the royal governmental and ceremonial duties in Canada are carried out by the Queen's representative, the governor general. In each of Canada's provinces, the monarch is represented by a lieutenant governor, while the territories are not sovereign and thus do not have a viceroy.

Per the Canadian constitution, the responsibilities of the sovereign and/or governor general include summoning and dismissing parliament, calling elections, and appointing governments. Further, Royal Assent and the royal sign-manual are required to enact laws, letters patent, and orders in council. But the authority for these acts stems from the Canadian populace and,[8][9][10] within the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy, the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with most related powers entrusted for exercise (via advice or direction to the monarch or the viceroy) by the elected and appointed parliamentarians, the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from amongst them, and the judges and justices of the peace.[8] The Crown today primarily functions as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance and a nonpartisan safeguard against the abuse of power,[8][11][12] 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."[13][14]

The historical roots of the Canadian monarchy date back to approximately the turn of the 16th century,[n 1][22][23][24][25][26] when European kingdoms made the first claims to what is now Canadian territory. Monarchical governance thenceforth evolved under a continuous succession of French and British sovereigns, and eventually the legally distinct Canadian monarchy,[15][18][19][21][27][28] which is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Maple Crown.[n 2][18][30]


  • International and domestic aspects 1
    • Succession and regency 1.1
  • Federal and provincial aspects 2
  • Personification of the Canadian state 3
    • Head of state 3.1
  • Federal constitutional role 4
    • Executive (Queen-in-Council) 4.1
    • Parliament (Queen-in-Parliament) 4.2
    • Courts (Queen-on-the-Bench) 4.3
  • Cultural role 5
    • Royal presence and duties 5.1
    • Symbols, associations, and awards 5.2
  • Canadian Royal Family 6
  • Federal residences and royal household 7
  • History 8
  • Public understanding 9
  • Debate 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • Citations 13
  • References 14
  • Further information 15
    • Reading 15.1
    • Viewing 15.2
  • External links 16

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 54-member Commonwealth of Nations, with the monarch residing predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom, and viceroys acting as the sovereign's representatives in Canada. The emergence of this arrangement paralleled the fruition of Canadian nationalism following the end of the First World War and culminated in the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931.[31] Since then, the pan-national Crown has had both a shared and separate character and the sovereign's role as monarch of Canada has been distinct to his or her position as monarch of any other realm,[n 3][31][32] including the United Kingdom.[n 4][34][35][36][37] Only Canadian federal ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on all matters of the Canadian state,[n 5][36][38][39][40][41][42] of which the sovereign, when not in Canada, is kept abreast by weekly communications with the federal viceroy.[43] The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution and in Canada became a Canadian,[19][44][45][46] or "domesticated",[47] establishment, though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language,[19] for reasons historical, political, and of convenience.

The personal Canadian royal standard of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, for use in Canada and when representing Canada abroad

This division is illustrated in a number of ways: The sovereign, for example, holds a unique Canadian title and, when she and other members of the Royal Family are acting in public specifically as representatives of Canada, they will use,[48] where possible, Canadian symbols, including the country's national flag, unique royal symbols, armed forces uniforms,[49][50][51][52] and the like, as well as Canadian Forces aircraft or other Canadian-owned vehicles for travel.[53] 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.[53][54]

The sovereign similarly only draws from Canadian coffers for support in the performance of her duties when in Canada or acting as Queen of Canada abroad; Canadians do not pay any money to the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Canada.[55][56] Normally, tax dollars pay only for the costs associated with the governor general and ten lieutenant governors as instruments of the Queen's authority, including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like.[56] In the absence of official reports on the full cost of the monarchy, the Monarchist League of Canada regularly issues a survey based on various federal and provincial budgets, expenditures, and estimates; the 2013 edition found that the institution cost roughly $57 million in 2012; $1.63 per Canadian.[57]

Succession and regency

The original Act of Settlement, 1701

Succession is by male-preference (agnatic) primogeniture governed by common law[58] and the Act of Settlement, 1701 (found by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2003 to be "part of the laws of Canada"[59]), the Bill of Rights, 1689 (declared unanimously by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1981 Patriation Reference to be "undoubtedly in force as part of the law of Canada"[21][60]), the Succession to the Throne Act 1937 (which made His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 part of the laws of Canada),[58] and the Royal Marriages Act 1772 (deemed by the Department of External Affairs, along with all the other aforementioned laws, to be part of Canadian law).[58][61] This legislation limits the succession to the non-adopted, legitimate descendants of Sophia of Hanover and stipulates that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic, nor married to one, and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne; these particular clauses have prompted legal challenge.

Though Canada's adoption of the Statute of Westminster 1931 means these constitutional laws as they apply to Canada lie within the full control of the Canadian parliament,[21][31][60][62] it also means Canada agreed not to change its rules of succession without the unanimous consent of, and a parallel change of succession in, the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation that applies symmetrically in all the other realms and has been likened to a treaty amongst these countries.[59][63] Thus, Canada's line of succession remains identical to that of the United Kingdom. However, there is no provision in Canadian law requiring that the King or Queen of Canada must be the same person as the King or Queen of the United Kingdom; if the UK were to breach the convention set out in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster and unilaterally change the line of succession to the British throne, the alteration would have no effect on the reigning sovereign of Canada or his or her heirs and successors.[62][64] As such, the rules for succession are not fixed, but may be changed by a constitutional amendment. Along with the other Commonwealth realms, Canada in 2011 committed to the Perth Agreement, which proposed changes to the laws governing succession, including altering the primogeniture to absolute cognatic.[65]

Charles, Prince of Wales, is the heir apparent to the Canadian throne

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[31]—hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King."[66][67] It is customary, though, for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor general on behalf of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, which meets at Rideau Hall after the accession.[n 6] Following an appropriate period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 7] By the Interpretation Act of 2005, no incumbent appointee of the Crown is affected by the death of the monarch, nor are they required to take the Oath of Allegiance again,[70] 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.[70] After an individual ascends the throne, he or she typically continues to reign until death, being unable to unilaterally abdicate per the tenets of constitutional monarchy.[n 8]

Canada has no laws allowing for a 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.[43][71][72] It is unclear, however, how those duties that are the sole domain of the monarch would be carried out at such a time.

Federal and provincial aspects

The Canadian monarchy is a federal one in which the Crown is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the country,[73] 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.[73] The Crown thus links the various governments into a federal state,[6] though it is simultaneously also "divided" into eleven legal jurisdictions, or eleven "crowns"—one federal and ten provincial[74]—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.[78]

The monarch is personally represented in each area by a viceroy who carries out the majority of the Queen's duties on her behalf: the Governor General of Canada in the federal sphere, appointed by the Queen on the advice of her federal prime minister, and a lieutenant governor in each province, appointed by the governor general on the advice of the federal prime minister, with input from the relevant provincial premier. The commissioners of Canada's territories are appointed by the federal Governor-in-Council, at the recommendation of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; but, as the territories are not sovereign entities, the commissioners are not personal representatives of the sovereign. The Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments selects candidates for appointment as governor general, lieutenant governor, and commissioner.[79][80]

Personification of the Canadian state

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Vladimir Tiara, as well as the Sovereign's insignia of the Order of Canada and the Order of Military Merit

The Crown is an integral part of a practical form of government, and as such it has a direct and substantive part to play in the lives of all Canadians.[81]

David E. Smith, The Invisible Crown, 1995

As the living embodiment of the Crown,[70] the sovereign is regarded as the personification of the Canadian state and,[n 11][13][40][87][88][89][90][91] as such, must, along with his or her viceregal representatives, "remain strictly neutral in political terms".[46] 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][31] so, even in private, the monarch is always "on duty".[93] The terms the state, the Crown[94] The Crown in Right of Canada, Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada (French: Sa Majesté la Reine du chef du Canada),[95] and similar are all synonymous and the monarch's legal personality is sometimes referred to simply as Canada.[89][96]

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),[98] state owned companies (Crown corporations), and the copyright for all government publications (Crown copyright).[99] This is all in his or her position as sovereign, and not as an individual; all such property is held by the Crown in perpetuity and cannot be sold by the sovereign without the proper advice and consent of his or her ministers.

The monarch tops the Canadian order of precedence and, as the embodiment of the state, is also the locus of oaths of allegiance,[n 14][83][89][101][102] required of many of the aforementioned employees of the Crown, as well as by new citizens, as per the Oath of Citizenship. Allegiance is given in reciprocation to the sovereign's Coronation Oath,[103] wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of ... Canada ... according to their respective laws and customs".[104]

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,[93] the sovereign is regarded by official government sources,[17][105][106][107] judges,[108] constitutional scholars,[89][109] and pollsters as the head of state,[110] while the governor general and lieutenant governors are all only representatives of, and thus equally subordinate to, that figure.[111] Some governors general, their staff, government publications,[89] and constitutional scholars like Edward McWhinney and C. E. S. Franks have,[112][113] however, referred to the position of governor general as that of Canada's head of state,[114][115] though sometimes qualifying the assertion with de facto or effective;[116][117][118] Franks has hence recommended that the governor general be named officially as the head of state.[113] Since 1927, governors general have been received on state visits abroad as though they were heads of state.[119]

Officials at Rideau Hall have pointed to the Letters Patent of 1947 as justification for describing the governor general as head of state, but others countered that the document makes no such distinction, either literally or implicitly,[120] nor does it effect an abdication of the sovereign's powers in favour of the viceroy.[43] Michael D. Jackson, former protocol officer for Saskatchewan, pointed out that Rideau Hall had been attempting to "recast" the governor general as head of state since the 1970s and that doing so preempted both the Queen and all of the lieutenant governors.[111] 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)[121][122] and an occasion where the Governor General accorded herself precedence before the Queen,[123] but also constitutional issues by "unbalancing [...] the federalist symmetry".[73][124] This has been regarded as both a natural evolution and as a dishonest effort to alter the constitution without public scrutiny.[120][125] Still others view the role of head of state as being shared by both the sovereign and her viceroys.[126][127][128]

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,[110] 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).[129]

Federal constitutional role

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.[46] The sovereign is vested with all the powers of state, collectively known as the royal prerogative,[130] leading the populace to be considered subjects of the Crown.[131] However, as the sovereign's power stems from the people[9][132] and the monarch is a constitutional one, he or she does not rule alone, as in an absolute monarchy. Instead, the Crown is regarded as a corporation, with the monarch being the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government[133]—the executive, legislative, and judicial[7]—acting under the sovereign's authority,[89][134] which is entrusted for exercise by the politicians (the elected and appointed parliamentarians and the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from amongst them) and the judges and justices of the peace.[8] The monarchy has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity and the monarch as a "guardian of constitutional freedoms"[21][101] whose "job is to ensure that the political process remains intact and is allowed to function."[46]

The Crown also sits at the pinnacle of the Canadian Forces, with the constitution placing the monarch in the position of commander-in-chief of the entire force, though the governor general carries out the duties attached to the position and also bears the title of Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada.[135] 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.[136][137][138]

Executive (Queen-in-Council)

The government of Canada—formally termed Her Majesty's Government[139]—is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her Privy Council;[139][140][141][142] what is technically known as the Queen-in-Council,[6] or sometimes the Governor-in-Council,[70] 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,"[128] which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet[143]—a committee of the Privy Council charged with advising the Crown on the exercise of the royal prerogative.[142] The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the swearing-in and resignation of prime ministers and other members of the ministry,[143] remains fully briefed through regular communications from her Canadian ministers, and holds audience with them whenever possible.[105] Per convention, the content of these communications and meetings remains confidential, so as to protect the impartiality of the monarch and her representative.[144][145] The appropriateness and viability of this tradition in an age of social media has been questioned.[146][147]

In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the ministerial advice tendered is typically binding,[148] meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule, the Cabinet ruling "in trust" for the monarch.[149] 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[8][134][150] and the royal and viceroyal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations (an exercise of the reserve powers),[n 15][68][134][151][152][153][154][155][156] thereby allowing the monarch to make sure "that the government conducts itself in compliance with the constitution."[128] There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen.[43][157][158]

The royal prerogative also extends to foreign affairs, including the ratification of treaties, alliances, international agreements, and declarations of war,[159] the accreditation of Canadian high commissioners and ambassadors and receipt of similar diplomats from foreign states,[160][161] and the issuance of Canadian passports,[162] which remain the sovereign's property.[163]

Parliament (Queen-in-Parliament)

King 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[164][165]—formally called the Queen-in-Parliament[6]—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.[166] 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.[167] Despite this exclusion, members of the commons must still recite the Oath of Allegiance before they may take their seat. Further, the official opposition is traditionally dubbed as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition,[101][168][169] 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).[170]

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.[171]

Courts (Queen-on-the-Bench)

The sovereign is responsible for rendering justice for all her subjects, and is thus traditionally deemed the fount of justice,[172] her position in the Canadian courts formally dubbed the Queen on the Bench.[6] 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,[172] 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.[140] The monarch, and by extension the governor general, also grants immunity from prosecution,[173] exercises the royal prerogative of mercy and may pardon offences against the Crown,[174][175] either before, during, or after a trial.

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

Cultural role

Royal presence and duties

Members of the Royal Family have been present in Canada since the late 18th century, their reasons including participating in military manoeuvres, serving as the federal viceroy, or undertaking official royal tours. A prominent feature of the latter are numerous royal walkabouts, the tradition of which was initiated in 1939 by Queen Elizabeth when she was in Ottawa and broke from the royal party to speak directly to gathered veterans.[176][177] Usually important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of Canadian culture will warrant the presence of the monarch,[176] 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

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

External links

  • Howe, John (1957). The Sceptre and the Mace (Film). Ottawa: National Film Board. 


  • Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Gary (1991). Royal Observations: Canadians and Royalty. Hamilton: Dundurn Press.  
  • Coates, Colin (2006). Majesty In Canada: Essays On The Role of Royalty. Hamilton: Dundurn Press.  
  • Farthing, John (1957), Robinson, Judith, ed., Freedom Wears a Crown (First ed.), Toronto: Kingswood House,  
  • MacKinnon, Frank (1976). The Crown in Canada. Calgary, Alta.: Glenbow-Alberta Institute: McClelland and Stewart West. 189 p. ISBN 0-7712-1016-7 pbk
  • Monet, Jacques (1979). The Canadian Crown. Toronto-Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin & Company Ltd.  
  • Munro, Kenneth; ed. Coates, Colin (1977). "The Crown and French Canada: The role of the Governors-General in Making the Crown relevant, 1867–1917". Imperial Canada (The University of Edinburgh): 109–121. 
  • Munro, Kenneth (March 2001). "Canada as Reflected in her Participation in the Coronation of her Monarchs in the Twentieth Century". Journal of Historical Sociology 14: 21–46.  
  • Smith, David E. (1999). The Republican Option in Canada: Past and Present. Toronto-Buffalo-London: University of Toronto Press.  
  • Tasko, Patti (2007). Canada's Queen: Elizabeth II: A Celebration of Her Majestys Friendship with the People of Canada. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons.  
  • Tidridge, Nathan; Guthrie, Gavin (2007). The Canadian Monarchy: Exploring the role of Canada's Crown in the day-to-day life of our country. Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada.  
  • Vaughan, Frederick (2004). Canadian Federalist Experiment: From Defiant Monarchy to Reluctant Republic. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.  


Further information

  • Benoit, Paul (2002). "The Crown and the Constitution". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) 25 (2). Retrieved 21 May 2009. 
  • Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Gary (2002). Fifty Years the Queen. Toronto: Dundurn Press.  
  • Galbraith, William (1989). "Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1939 Royal Visit". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) 12 (3). Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  • MacKinnon, Frank (1976). The Crown in Canada. Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute. p. 69.  
  • Neitsch, Alfred Thomas (2008). "A Tradition of Vigilance: The Role of Lieutenant Governor in Alberta". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) 30 (4). Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  • Noonan, Peter C. (1998). The Crown and Constitutional Law in Canada. Calgary: Sripnoon Publications.  
  • Smith, David E. (1995). The Invisible Crown. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.  
  • Tidridge, Nathan (2011). Canada's Constitutional Monarchy: An Introduction to Our Form of Government. Toronto: Dundurn Press.  
  • Trepanier, Peter (2004). "Some Visual Aspects of the Monarchical Tradition". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) 27 (2). Retrieved 8 October 2009. 


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  1. ^ The date of the first establishment a monarchical form of government in parts of the territory which now forms Canada varies: some sources give the year as 1497, when King Henry VII claimed parts of Newfoundland,[15][16] while others put it at 1534, when New France was founded in the name of King Francis I.[17][18][19][20][21]
  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".[29]
  3. ^ a b 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 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."[33]
  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. ^ Ted McWhinney theorized that failure to make this proclamation would result in an empty throne for Canada, leaving the governor general as full head of state.[68] The proposal was met with criticism from legal experts.[69]
  7. ^ For example, Edward VIII was never crowned, yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne.
  8. ^ 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.
  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.[75] 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.[76]
  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."[77]
  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";[82] 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."[46] The Department of Canadian Heritage said the Crown serves as the "personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians,"[35][83] a concept akin to that expressed by King Louis XIV: "l'État, c'est moi", or, "I am the state".[84] Robertson Davies stated in 1994: "the Crown is the consecrated spirit of Canada,"[85] 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."[86]
  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."[92]
  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."[97]
  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."[100]
  15. ^ See Note 1 at Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
  16. ^ a b c 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,[89][153][178] members of the Royal Family will also take part in Canadian events overseas.[179][180][181][182][183][184][185][186][187][188][189][190][191][192][193]
  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.[198]
  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."[203] 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. ^ 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.[219]
  21. ^ Two Canadian citizens married into the Royal Family: In 1988, Autumn Kelly, originally from Montreal, married Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grandson, Peter Phillips.[220] The latter couple has two children, 13th and 14th in line to the throne, who each hold dual Canadian and British citizenship.[221][222]
  22. ^ a b Prior to 2013, there was inconsistency in the award of honours to members of the Royal Family. For example, the Queen Mother was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada on only an honorary basis, though the Canadian Forces Decoration awarded to her was substantive.[225][226] Similarly, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was offered only honorary appointment to the Order of Canada, which he refused on the grounds that, as the royal consort of the Queen, he was Canadian and thus entitled to a substantive appointment,[227] as he had been awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration and Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan.
  23. ^ As early as 1959, it was recognized that the Queen was "equally at home in all her realms";[230] By the 1960s, loyal societies in Canada recognized the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, as a "Canadian princess";[231] 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".[232][233]
  24. ^ Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, said in 1951 that when in Canada she was "amongst fellow countrymen"[44][234] and, in 2005, Elizabeth, then Queen of Canada, said she agreed with the statement earlier made by her mother, Queen Elizabeth, that Canada felt like a "home away from home."[235]
  25. ^ [240] while he served as governor general.[238]
  26. ^ The styles for the most senior members of the Royal Family are:


See also

The idea of a uniquely Canadian monarch has been proffered as an alternative,[307] either one descended from the present queen or coming from a First Nations royal house;[25][241][308][309] however, there has been no popular or official support for such a change.

To date, outside of academic circles, there has been little national United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada,[303] the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust,[304] the Orange Order in Canada,[305] and the Friends of the Canadian Crown.[306]


The position of prime minister has simultaneously undergone what has been described as a "presidentialisation",[290][291] to the point that its incumbents publicly outshine the actual head of state.[292][293] David S. Donovan felt that Canadians mostly considered the monarch and her representatives as purely ceremonial and symbolic figures.[294] It was argued by Alfred Neitsch that this undermined the Crown's legitimacy as a check and balance in the governmental system.[295]

Commentators have in the late 20th and early 21st centuries stated that contemporary Canadians had and have a poor understanding of the Canadian monarchy,[285] Michael D. Jackson saying in his book The Crown and Canadian Federalism that this is part of a wider ignorance about Canadian civics.[286] Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said there is "an abysmal lack of knowledge about the system"[287] and Senator Lowell Murray wrote in 2003: "The Crown has become irrelevant to most Canadian's understanding of our system of Government," which he attributed to the "fault of successive generations of politicians, of an educational system that has never given the institution due study, and of past vice-regal incumbents themselves."[288] These comments were echoed by teacher and author Nathan Tidridge, who asserted in his 2011 book, Canada's Constitutional Monarchy: An Introduction to Our Form of Government, that, beginning in the 1960s, the role of the Crown disappeared from provincial education curricula, as the general subject of civics came to receive less attention.[278] He said Canadians are being "educated to be illiterate, ambivalent, or even hostile toward our constitutional monarchy."[286] 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."[289]

Public understanding

Through the 1960s and 1970s, the rise of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012,[283][284] the first such event in Canada since 1897, when Victoria marked her 60th year on the throne.

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.[235] That act is said to have entrenched the monarchy in Canada,[276] 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.[78]

After the Canadian colonies of France were, via war and treaties, ceded to the British Crown, and the population was greatly expanded by George VI.

The Canadian monarchy can trace its ancestral lineage back to the kings of the Angles and the early Scottish kings, through centuries since parts of the territories that today comprise Canada were claimed by King Henry VII in 1497 and others by King Francis I in 1534; both being blood relatives of the current Canadian monarch. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said of the Crown that it "links us all together with the majestic past that takes us back to the Tudors, the Plantagenets, the Magna Carta, habeas corpus, petition of rights, and English common law."[269] Though the first French and British colonizers of Canada interpreted the hereditary nature of some indigenous North American chieftainships as a form of monarchy,[270][271][272] it is generally accepted that Canada has been a territory of a monarch or a monarchy in its own right only since the establishment of New France in the early 17th century;[20] according to historian Jacques Monet, the Canadian Crown is one of the few that have survived through uninterrupted succession since before its inception.[28]

Francis I of France; established colonies in Acadia and Canada, 1534


There are three household regiments specifically attached to the Royal Household (the Governor General's Foot Guards, the Governor General's Horse Guards, and the Canadian Grenadier Guards), as well as two chapels royal in Ontario.[268]

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,[201] 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,[264] the Queen's Honorary Physician, the Queen's Honorary Dental Surgeon, and the Queen's Honorary Nursing Officer[265]—the latter three being drawn from the Canadian Forces.[75] Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, also has a Canadian private secretary and his wife,[266] Sophie, Countess of Wessex, a lady-in-waiting.[267]

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;[260] the Marquess of Lorne and Princess Louise owned a cottage on the Cascapédia River in Quebec;[261] 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.[262][263]

The governor general's residence at La Citadelle

[259][258] on Ottawa.nuclear attack and decommissioned in 1994, included a residential apartment for the sovereign or governor general in the case of a CFS Carp, built in 1959 at Emergency Government Headquarters and the [257] A number of buildings across Canada are reserved by the Crown for the use of the monarch and her viceroys. The sovereign's principal

Rideau Hall, the monarch's principal Canadian residence, though foremostly that of the governor general

Federal residences and royal household

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.

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."[238] 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.[243] 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."[244] Princess Anne used it again when speaking at Rideau Hall in 2014.[245] By 2011, both Canadian and British media were referring to "Canada's royal family" or the "Canadian royal family".[246][247][248]

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.[n 26]

The family members bear lineage from, among others, First Nations royal family for Canada.[241]

The Canadian Royal Family is a group of people related to the monarch of Canada[210] and, as such, belonging to the House of Windsor. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the group, though the Department of Canadian Heritage maintains a list of immediate members[211] and the Department of National Defence stipulates that those in the direct line of succession who bear the style of Royal Highness (Altesse Royale) are subjects of,[212] and owe their allegiance specifically to, the reigning king or queen of Canada.[213]

Four members of the Canadian 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

Canadian Royal Family

A number of Canadian civilian organizations have association with the monarchy, either through their being founded via a 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.

Members of the Royal Family also act as ceremonial colonels-in-chief of various military regiments, reflecting the Crown's relationship with the armed forces through participation in events both at home and abroad.[n 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.[209]

Since the days of King Louis XIV,[207] the monarch is the fount of all honours in Canada and new orders,[207][208] decorations, and medals, which form "an integral element of the Crown,"[207] may only be created with the approval of the sovereign through letters patent. Hence, the insignia and medallions for these awards bear a crown, cypher, and/or effigy of the monarch. Similarly, the country's heraldic authority was created by the Queen and, operating under the authority of the governor general, grants new coats of arms, flags, and badges in Canada. Use of the royal crown in such symbols is a gift from the monarch showing royal support and/or association, and requires her approval before being added.[206]

The main symbol of the monarchy is the sovereign herself,[133] described as "the personal expression of the Crown in Canada,"[204] 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.[101] The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, and salutes.[205] 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,[206] the latter without referring to any specific monarch.

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

Symbols, associations, and awards

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]

[202] 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.[194] are performed by Royal Family members on behalf of Canadian organizations of which they may be unofficial duties Conversely,

[201] responsible for orchestrating any official events in or for Canada that involve the Royal Family.[200][199] are, as part of the State Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Program,Department of Canadian Heritage 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 [n 17] sometimes these individuals are employed in asserting Canada's sovereignty over its territories.[197][196][195][194][n 16]

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