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Queen of Canada
Coat of arms of Canada.svg
Royal Coat of Arms of Canada
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg
Elizabeth II
since 6 February 1952
Style: Her Majesty
Heir apparent: Charles, Prince of Wales
First monarch: Victoria
Formation: 1 July 1867
Residence: Rideau Hall, Ottawa


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The monarchy of Canada – also referred to as The Crown in Right of Canada, Her Majesty in Right of Canada, or The Queen in Right of Canada – is the constitutional system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign and head of state of Canada,[1][2][3] forming the core, or "the most basic building block,"[4] of the country's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The Crown is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government,[5][6][7] as well as the linchpin of Canadian federalism.

While Royal Assent and the royal sign-manual are required to enact laws, letters patent, and Orders-in-Council, the authority for these acts stems from the Canadian populace,[8][9][10] and, within the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy, the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with most related powers entrusted for exercise by the elected and appointed parliamentarians, the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from amongst them, and the judges and Justices of the Peace.[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]

Canada has been a monarchy since at least the end of the 15th century,[n 1][21][22][23] the Crown having evolved under an uninterrupted line of consecutive French, British, and then Canadian monarchs to become a distinctly Canadian institution,[15][18][20][17][24][25] represented by unique symbols, and sometimes being colloquially dubbed the Maple Crown.[n 2][17][27] The Canadian monarch — since 6 February 1952, Elizabeth II — is today shared equally with fifteen other countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, all being independent and the monarchy of each legally distinct. For Canada, the monarch is officially titled Queen of Canada (French: Reine du Canada), and she, her consort, and other members of the Canadian Royal Family undertake various public and private functions across Canada and on behalf of the country abroad. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. While several powers are the sovereign's alone, because she lives predominantly in the United Kingdom, most of the royal constitutional and ceremonial duties in Canada are carried out by the Queen's representative, the Governor General;[3] therefore, the Governor General is sometimes be referred to as the de facto head of state.[28] In each of Canada's provinces, the monarch is represented by a Lieutenant Governor,[3] while the territories are not sovereign and thus do not have a viceroy.


International and domestic aspects

Further information: Commonwealth realm > Relationship of the realms

Canada shares the same monarch with 15 other monarchies in the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations, a grouping known informally as the Commonwealth realms. The emergence of this arrangement paralleled the evolution 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 separate character,[29] and the sovereign's role as monarch of Canada has been distinct to his or her position as monarch of the United Kingdom,[n 3][30] as reflected in the monarch's unique Canadian title.[31] The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution, and in Canada became a Canadian establishment,[18][32][33] though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language,[18] for reasons historical, political, and of convenience.

Effective with the Constitution Act, 1982, no British or other realm government can advise the sovereign on any matters pertinent to Canada,[34] meaning that on all matters of the Canadian state, the monarch is advised solely by Canadian federal Ministers of the Crown.[n 4][35] As the monarch lives predominantly outside of Canada, one of the most important of these state duties carried out on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister is the appointment of the federal viceroy, who is titled as Governor General, and performs most of the Queen's domestic duties in her absence.

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.[36] 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.[36] 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 2009 edition found that the institution cost Canadians roughly $50 million in 2008.[37]



Succession is by male-preference primogeniture governed by both the Act of Settlement, 1701, and Bill of Rights, 1689, legislation that limits the succession to the natural (i.e. non-adopted), legitimate descendants of Sophia, Electress 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, via adopting the Statute of Westminster, these constitutional laws as they apply to Canada now lie within the full control of the Canadian parliament,[38][39] Canada also agreed not to change its rules of succession without the unanimous consent of the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation that applies symmetrically in all the other realms, including the United Kingdom, and has been likened to a treaty amongst these countries.[40][41] 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.[39] As such, the rules for succession are not fixed, but may be changed by a constitutional amendment.

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 — hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!." 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 5] Following an appropriate period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 6] Per the 1927 Act Respecting the Demise of the Crown, no incumbent appointee of the Crown is affected by the death of the monarch, though they are required to re-take the Oath of Allegiance.[44] By the Interpretation Act of 2005, 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.[45] 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 7]

Personification of the state

The Crown is an integral part of a practical form of government, and as such it has a direct and substantive part to play in the lives of all Canadians.[46]

David E. Smith, The Invisible Crown, 1995

As the living embodiment of the Crown,[45] the sovereign is regarded as the personification, or legal personality, of the Canadian state,[n 8][13][35][52][53][54][55] with the state therefore referred to as Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada (French: Sa Majesté la Reine du chef du Canada),[n 9][58] or The Crown.[54] 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; even in private, the monarch is always "on duty".[59]

As such, the king or queen of Canada is the employer of all government staff (including the viceroys, judges, members of the Canadian Forces, police officers, and parliamentarians),[n 10] the guardian of foster children (Crown wards), as well as the owner of all state lands (Crown land), buildings and equipment (Crown held property),[61] state owned companies (Crown Corporations), and the copyright for all government publications (Crown copyright).[62] 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.

As the embodiment of the state, the monarch tops the Canadian order of precedence, and is also the locus of oaths of allegiance,[n 11][47][54][64][65] required of many employees of the Crown, as well as by new citizens, as per the Oath of Citizenship laid out in the Citizenship Act. This is done in reciprocation to the sovereign's Coronation Oath,[66] wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of... Canada... according to their respective laws and customs."[67]

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,[59] the sovereign is regarded by official government sources,[1][2][68] judges,[69] and constitutional scholars,[3][54] as the head of state, while the Governor General and Lieutenant Governors are all only representatives of, and thus equally subordinate to, that figure.[70] The Governor General, his or her staff, government publications,[54] and some constitutional scholars like Edward McWhinney, have, however, referred to the position of Governor General as that of Canada's head of state,[71][72] though sometimes qualilfying the assertion with de facto or effective,[73][74] and since 1927 Governors General have been received on state visits abroad as though they were heads of state.[75]

Officials at Rideau Hall have pointed to the Letters Patent of 1947 as justification for describing the Governor General as Canada's head of state, but others countered that the document makes no such distinction, either literally or implicitly.[76] 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,[70] the latter causing not only "precedence wars" at provincial events (where the Governor General usurped the Lieutenant Governor's proper spot as most senior official in attendance),[77][78] but also constitutional issues by "unbalancing[...] the federalist symmetry."[79][80] This has been regarded as both a natural evolution,[81] and as a dishonest effort to alter the constitution without public scrutiny.[76] Still others view the role of head of state as being shared by both the sovereign and her viceroys.[82][83][84]

Constitutional role

Canada's constitution is made up of a variety of statutes and conventions that are either British, French, or Canadian in origin,[85] and together give Canada a parliamentary system of government wherein the role of the Queen is both legal and practical. The Crown is regarded as a corporation, with the sovereign, vested as she is with all powers of state,[85] as the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government acting under the sovereign's authority;[54][86] the Crown has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity.[20] Though her authority stems from the people,[9] all Canadians live under the authority of the monarch, including anyone born in Canada, whether to citizens or to landed migrants, who is then recognised per common law as a natural-born subject of the Crown.[87] For Canadians, the monarch acts as a "guardian of constitutional freedoms."[64]

King George VI presents the King's Colours to the Royal Canadian Navy at a ceremony in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, in 1939

The vast powers that belong to the Crown are collectively known as the Royal Prerogative, the exercise of which does not require parliamentary approval, though it is not unlimited; for example, 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.[88] Further, the constitution instructs that any change to the position of the monarch, or the monarch's representatives in Canada, requires the consent of the Senate, the House of Commons, and the legislative assemblies of all the provinces.[89]

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.[90] Though the monarch and members of her family also act as Colonels-in-Chief of various regiments in the military, these posts are only ceremonial in nature, reflecting the Crown's relationship with the military through participation in military ceremonies both at home and abroad.[n 12] The monarch also serves as the Honorary Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[91]

Included in Canada's constitution are the various treaties with the country's First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, who view these documents as agreements directly between them and the reigning monarch. These accords illustrate a long relationship between sovereign and aboriginals,[92] which is based on the Crown's responsibility to protect First Nations' territories and act as a fiduciary between the government and aboriginal peoples in Canada.[93][94]

Executive (Queen-in-Council)

The government of Canada — formally termed Her Majesty's Government[95] — is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her Privy Council;[95][96][97][98] what is technically known as the Queen-in-Council,[6] or sometimes the Governor-in-Council,[45] 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,"[84] which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet[99] — a committee of the Privy Council charged with advising the Crown on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative.[98] The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the swearing-in and resignation of prime ministers and other members of the ministry,[99] remains fully briefed through regular communications from her Canadian ministers, and holds audience with them whenever possible.[2]

Governor General Michaëlle Jean with Her Majesty's Cabinet, 30 October 2008

In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the ministerial advice tendered is typically binding, meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule; 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][86][100] and the royal and viceroyal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations,[n 13][42][86][101][102][103][104] thereby allowing the monarch to make sure "that the government conducts itself in compliance with the constitution."[84] There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen; these include applying the royal sign-manual and Great Seal of Canada to the appointment papers of governors general, the confirmation of awards of Canadian honours, the approval of any change in her Canadian title,[105] and the creation of new Senate seats.[106]

Foreign affairs

The Royal Prerogative also extends to foreign affairs: the sovereign or, since 1978,[107] the Governor General negotiates and ratifies treaties, alliances, and international agreements, on the advice of the Cabinet. The Governor General, on behalf of the Queen, also accredits Canadian High Commissioners and ambassadors, and receives similar diplomats from foreign states. These tasks were solely in the domain of the sovereign until 1977, when, at the direction of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Queen Elizabeth II agreed to allow the Governor General to perform these duties on her behalf,[108] and in 2005 the Letters of Credence and Recall were altered so as to run in the name of the incumbent Governor General, instead of following the usual international process of the letters being from one head of state to another.[108] In addition, the issuance of passports falls under the Royal Prerogative,[109] and, as such, all Canadian passports are issued in the monarch's name and remain her property.[110]

Parliament (Queen-in-Parliament)

Elizabeth II reads the Throne Speech at the opening of the third session of the 30th Canadian parliament on 18 October 1977, accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

All laws in Canada are the monarch's,[111] and the sovereign is one of the three components of parliament[112] — 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 viceroy has the option of deferring assent to the sovereign, as per the constitution.[113] 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 or the Governor General reading the Speech from the Throne; as the both are traditionally barred from the House of Commons, this ceremony, as well as the bestowing of Royal Assent, takes place in the Senate chamber.[114] Despite this exclusion, members of the commons must still express their loyalty to the sovereign and defer to her authority, as the Oath of Allegiance must be recited by all new parliamentarians before they may take their seat, and the official opposition is traditionally dubbed as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.[64][115][116]

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,[117] or more officially, the Queen on the Bench.[6] However, she does not personally rule in judicial cases; instead the judicial functions of the Royal Prerogative are performed in trust and in the Queen's name by Officers of Her Majesty's Court. These individuals enjoy the privilege granted conditionally by the sovereign to be free from criminal and civil liability for unsworn statements made within the court.[117] This privilege extends from the notion in common law that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the Queen-in-Council) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the monarch personally are not cognizable. In international cases, as a sovereign and under established principals of international law, the Queen of Canada is not subject to suit in foreign courts without her express consent.[96] The monarch, and by extension the Governor General, also grants immunity from prosecution,[118] exercises the Royal Prerogative of Mercy,[119][120] and may pardon offences against the Crown, either before, during, or after a trial.

As the judges and courts are the sovereign's judges and courts, and as all law in Canada derives from the Crown, the monarch stands to give legitimacy to courts of justice, and is the source of their judicial authority. 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.


The Canadian monarchy is a federal one in which the Crown is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the country, with the headship of state being a part of all equally.[80] As such, the sovereignty of the provinces is passed on not by the Governor General or federal parliament, but through the overreaching Crown itself as a part of the executive, legislative, and judicial operations in each province. Though singular, linking the federal and provincial governments into a federal state,[6] the Crown is thus "divided" into eleven legal jurisdictions, or eleven "crowns" — one federal and ten provincial.[121] The Fathers of Confederation viewed the system of constitutional monarchy as a bulwark against any potential fracturing of the Canadian federation.[122]

A Lieutenant Governor serves as the Queen's representative in each province, carrying out all the monarch's constitutional and ceremonial duties of state on her behalf. The Commissioners of Canada's territories of Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories are appointed by the Governor-in-Council, at the recommendation of the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; but, as the territories are not sovereign entities, the commissioners are not representatives of the sovereign.

Cultural role

Royal presence and duties

Members of the Royal Family have been present in Canada since the late 1700s, 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.[123][124] Usually important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of Canadian culture will warrant the presence of the monarch,[123] while other royals will be asked to participate in lesser occasions. A household to assist and tend to the monarch will form part of the royal party.

The dedication in 1939 of the National War Memorial in Ottawa by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

Official duties involve the sovereign representing the Canadian state at home or abroad, or her relations as members of the Canadian Royal Family participating in government organized ceremonies either in Canada or elsewhere.[n 14][141][142][143] 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,[144][145] responsible for orchestrating any official events in or for Canada that involve the Royal Family.[146] Such events have included centennials and bicentennials; Canada Day; the openings of Pan American, Olympic, and other games; anniversaries of First Nations treaty signings; awards ceremonies; D-Day commemorations; anniversaries of the monarch's accession; and the like. 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.[143] 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.[147]

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 15]

Symbols, associations, and awards

The main symbol of the monarchy is the sovereign herself, described as "the personal expression of the Crown in Canada,"[149] and her image is thus used to signify government authority — her effigy, for instance, appearing on currency, and her portrait in government buildings — and Canadian sovereignty.[64] A royal cypher or crown is also used to illustrate the monarchy as the locus of authority,[150] the latter without referring to any specific monarch. The former appears on buildings and official seals, and the latter on provincial and national coats of arms, as well as police force and Canadian Forces regimental and maritime badges and rank insignia. The sovereign will also appear in person to represent the Canadian nation, and is both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, and salutes.[151]

The Queen is the fount of all honours in Canada,[152] and new orders, decorations, and medals 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 in 1988, and, operating under the authority of the Governor General, grants new coats of arms (armorial bearings), flags, and badges to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and corporate bodies. 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.[150]

Besides government and military institutions, a number of Canadian civilian organizations have association with the monarchy, either through their being founded via a Royal Charter (such as the Hudson's Bay Company,[153] the city of Saint John, New Brunswick,[154] Scouts Canada,[155] and McGill University[156]), having been granted the right to use the prefix royal before their name (such as the Royal Ottawa Golf Club and the Royal Canadian Regiment), or because at least one member of the Royal Family serves as a patron.

Some 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 similarly 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, such as the tapestry of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police badge presented to the Queen by the RCMP after she approved the new design in Regina, Saskatchewan, on 4 July 1973.[157]

Canadian Royal Family

The Canadian Royal Family gathers in Lac-Brome, Quebec, 1976 (left to right: the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, Mark Phillips, Prince Edward, the Queen, Prince Andrew, and Charles, Prince of Wales

The Canadian Royal Family is a group of people related to the monarch of Canada.[158] There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the group,[159] though the Department of Canadian Heritage maintains a list of immediate members,[160] 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,[161] and owe their allegiance to, the reigning sovereign specifically as King or Queen of Canada,[162] entitling them to Canadian consular assistance and to the protection of the Queen's armed forces of Canada when they are outside of the Commonwealth realms and in need of protection or aid.[162]

Given the shared nature of the Canadian monarch, most members of the Canadian Royal Family are also members of the British Royal Family, and thus the House of Windsor. As such, they are the distant relations of the Belgian, Danish, Greek, and Spanish Royal Families, and bear lineage from, amongst others, Arab, Armenian, Cuman, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Mongolian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Serbian, and Swedish ethnicities,[163] as well as, according to Moroccan and Chinese officials, respectively, being directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad and Tang Dynasty Chinese Emperors.[164] However, because Canada and the UK are independent of one another, it is incorrect to refer in the Canadian context to the family of the monarch as the "British Royal Family"[165] — as is frequently done by Canadian and other media[166][167] — and there exist some differences between the official lists of each: for instance, while he never held the style His Royal Highness, Angus Ogilvy was included in the Department of Canadian Heritage's royal family list, but was not considered a member of the British Royal Family.[168] Additionally, unlike in the United Kingdom, the monarch is the only member of the Royal Family in Canada with a title established through law; it would be possible for others to be granted distinctly Canadian titles (as is the case for the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland), but they have always been, and continue to only be, accorded the use of a courtesy title, which is that they have been granted via Letters Patent in the United Kingdom, though they are also in Canada translated to French.[n 16]

The Queen The Duke of Edinburgh The Prince of Wales The Duchess of Cornwall Prince William of Wales Prince Henry of Wales The Duke of York Princess Beatrice of York Princess Eugenie of York The Earl of Wessex The Countess of Wessex The Princess Royal Peter Phillips Zara Phillips The Duke of Gloucester The Duchess of Gloucester The Duke of Kent Prince Michael of Kent Princess Michael of Kent Princess Alexandra
Most members of the Royal Family gathered for a dinner celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh

Though the group is predominantly based in the United Kingdom, the sovereign and those amongst her relations who do not meet the requirements of Canadian citizenship law are still not considered foreign to Canada;[169][170] as early as 1959, it was recognised that the Queen was "equally at home in all her realms."[171] Rather, as legal subjects of the country's monarch,[162] the Royal Family holds a unique position reflected in the confusion that sometimes arises around the awarding of honours to them.[n 17] The only Canadian citizens within the Canadian Royal Family were married into it: In 1988, Sylvana Jones (née Tomaselli in Placentia, Newfoundland) wed George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, a great-grandson of King George V; and on 18 May 2008, Autumn Kelly, originally from Montreal, married Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grandson, Peter Phillips.[175] Beyond legalities, members of the Royal Family have also, on occasion, declared themselves to be Canadian,[n 17][n 18] and some members have lived in Canada for extended periods as viceroy or for other reasons.[n 19] Still, the existence of a Canadian Royal Family is contested, mostly by individuals in Canada's fringe republican movement, but also by former Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Iona Campagnolo,[183] and poet George Elliott Clarke publicly mused about a fully First Nations royal family for Canada.[184]

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."[180] 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.[185] At first, the monarch was the only member of the Royal Family to carry out public ceremonial duties solely on the advice of Canadian ministers; King Edward VIII became the first to do so when in July 1936 he dedicated the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France – one of his few obligations performed during his short reign.[n 14] Over the decades, however, the monarch's children, grandchildren, cousins, and their respective spouses began to also perform functions at the direction of the Canadian Crown-in-Council, representing the monarch within Canada or abroad. By the 1960s, loyal societies in Canada recognized the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, as a "Canadian princess";[186] but, it was not until October 2002 when the term Canadian Royal Family was first used publicly and officially by a member of it: 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."[187] 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.[n 20]

Residences and royal household

Rideau Hall, the monarch's principal Canadian residence, though foremostly that of the Governor General

A number of buildings across Canada are reserved by the Crown for the use of the monarch and her viceroys. The sovereign's primary official residence, as well as that primarily used by the Governor General, is Rideau Hall,[189][190][191][192][193][194] located in Ottawa, Ontario,[195] and another principal residence of the Governor General is the Citadelle, in Quebec City. Each of these royal seats holds pieces from the Crown Collection, made up of antique and contemporary furniture and works of art from each province and territory of Canada, as well as Europe, Asia, and other regions, the majority of which came from donations to the Canada Fund.[196] The provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island also maintain residences for the sovereign,[197] though they are used primarily by the respective Lieutenant Governor. Further, though neither was ever used for their intended purpose, Hatley Castle in British Columbia was purchased in 1940 by King George VI in Right of Canada to use as his home during the course of World War II,[198] and the Emergency Government Headquarters, built in 1959 at CFS Carp and decommissioned in 1994, included a residential apartment for the sovereign or Governor General in the case of a nuclear attack on Ottawa.[199][200]

The Governor General's residence at La Citadelle

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;[201] The Marquess of Lorne and Princess Louise owned a cottage on the Cascapédia River in Quebec;[202] and Princess Margaret owned Portland Island between its gifting to her during a trip to the province in 1958 and her death in 2002, though she offered it on permanent loan to the Crown in Right of British Columbia in 1966, and the island and surrounding waters eventually became Princess Margaret Marine Park.[203][204]

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,[146] 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,[205] the Queen's Honorary Physician, the Queen's Honorary Dental Surgeon, and the Queen's Honorary Nursing Sister — the latter three being drawn from the Canadian Forces.[56] There are also 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 — the The Queen's Chapel of the Mohawks, built in 1785 in Brantford, and Christ Church, Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, founded in 1784 and rebuilt in 1843 near Deseronto.[206] Both were granted the status of Royal Chapel by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.


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

The Canadian monarchy can trace its ancestral lineage back to the kings of the Angles and the early Scottish kings, 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."[207] Though the first French and British colonizers of Canada interpreted the hereditary nature of some indigenous North American chieftainships as a form of monarchy,[208][209][210] 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;[19] according to historian Jacques Monet, the Canadian Crown is one of an existant few to have survived through uninterrupted succession since before its inception.[25]

After the Canadian colonies of France were, via war and treaties, ceded to the British Crown, and the population was greatly expanded by those loyal to George III fleeing north from persecution during and following the American Revolution, British North America was in 1867 confederated by Queen Victoria to form Canada as a kingdom in its own right.[48][2][211] By the end of the First World War, the increased fortitude of Canadian nationalism inspired the country's leaders to push for greater independence from the King in his British Council, resulting in the creation of the uniquely Canadian monarchy through the Statute of Westminster, which was granted Royal Assent in 1931.[212][213] Only five years later, Canada had three successive kings in the space of one year, with the death of George V, the accession and abdication of Edward VIII, and his replacement by George VI.

The latter became in 1939 the first reigning monarch of Canada to tour the country (though previous kings had done so before their accession). As the ease of travel increased, visits by the sovereign and other Royal Family members became more frequent and involved, seeing Queen Elizabeth II officiate at various moments of importance in the nation's history, one being when she proclaimed the country to be fully independent, via constitutional patriation, in 1982.[177] That act is said to have entrenched the monarchy in Canada,[214] 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.[89]

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; but, provincial and federal ministers, along with loyal national citizen's organisations, ensured that the system remained the same in essence.[215] By 2002, the year of the royal tour and associated fêtes for the Queen's Golden Jubilee proved popular with Canadians across the country.[216][217][218]


To date, outside of academic circles, there has been little national debate on the Canadian monarchy, a subject of which most Canadians are generally unaware.[219] Neither of Canada's two most prominent political parties — the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party — is officially in favour of abolishing the monarchy, though the latter makes support for constitutional monarchy a founding principle in its policy declaration,[220] and the New Democratic Party (NDP) has no official position on the role of the Crown. Only some Members of Parliament belonging to these parties,[221] and the leaders of the Bloc Québécois have made any statements suggesting abolition of the monarchy.[222][223] Canada has two special-interest groups representing the debate, who frequently argue the issue in the media: the Monarchist League of Canada and Citizens for a Canadian Republic.[224][225] There are also other loyal organizations, such as the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada,[226] the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust,[227] and the Orange Order in Canada.[228]

See also


  1. ^ The date of the first establishment of the Crown in Canada varies: some sources give the year as 1497, when King Edward 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]
  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".[26]
  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 King George VI in 1939 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.
  4. ^ 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 government advised the Queen not to grant Black such an honour. If Blair had not backed down, 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.
  5. ^ Ted McWhinney theorised that failure to make this proclamation would result in an empty throne for Canada, leaving the Governor General as full head of state.[42] The proposal was met with criticism from legal experts.[43]
  6. ^ For example, Edward VIII was never crowned, yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne.
  7. ^ The only Canadian monarch to abdicate, Edward VIII, did so with the authorization of the Canadian government granted in His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, 1936, and the Succession to the Throne Act, 1937, later confirmed this in law.
  8. ^ The sovereign has been described by the Department of Canadian Heritage as the "personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians,"[47][48] a concept akin to that expressed by King Louis XIV: "l'État, c'est moi", or, "I am the state."[49] Robertson Davies stated in 1994: "the Crown is the consecrated spirit of Canada,"[50] 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."[51]
  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.[56] 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.[57]
  10. ^ 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."[60]
  11. ^ It is stated in the Rules & Forms of the House of Commons of Canada that "allegiance to the King means allegiance to the Country."[63]
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ See Note 1 at Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
  14. ^ 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,[54][103][125] members of the Royal Family will also take part in Canadian events overseas.[126][127][128][129][130][131][132][133][134][135][136][137][138][139][140]
  15. ^ 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."[148] The Queen's participation in Canadian events overseas contradicts Sharp's statement, however.[n 3][n 14]
  16. ^ The styles for the most senior members of the Royal Family are:
  17. ^ a b 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.[172][173] Similarly, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, refused honorary appointment to the Order of Canada on the grounds that, as the royal consort of the Queen, he was Canadian, and thus entitled to a substantive appointment,[174] as he had been awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration and Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan.
  18. ^ Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, said in 1951 that when in Canada she was "amongst fellow countrymen,"[32][176] and in 2005, Elizabeth, now 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."[177]
  19. ^ Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, served as the Commander of British North American troops in Canada's Maritimes for nine years after 1791, mostly in Halifax;[178] his granddaughter, Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, lived in Canada between 1878 and 1883 as viceregal consort;[179] and her brother, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, resided in Canada first through 1870 as a member of the Canadian Militia defending Canada from the Fenian Raids,[180] and then as Governor General from 1911 until 1916.[181] Later, for six years beginning in 1940, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (a great-grandchild of the Duke of Kent), lived in Canada with her husband, The Earl of Athlone (himself a great-grandchild of King George III),[180] while he served as Governor General.[182]
  20. ^ An EKOS Research Associates Poll conducted in May 2002, concluded that 35% of Canadians found the Royal Family boring, 52% saw them as interesting, with 12% stated that the family was neither. 44% said the royals were irrelevant, 46% said the opposite, and 8% said neither. 59% saw the Royal Family as tired, 22% deemed them vibrant, and 17% put them at neither.[188] A March 2005, Decima Research Poll found some interesting support levels for members of the Royal Family: 71% of Canadians had a favourable impression of the Royal Family. Only 20% had an unfavourable impression of the Royal Family. The poll found that 28% of Canadians saw the Queen as their favourite member of the Royal Family, Prince William was second with 26%, Prince Harry was third with 9%, Prince Charles was fourth with 6% and Prince Philip last with 2%.


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Further information


  • Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Gary (1991), Royal Observations: Canadians and Royalty, Hamilton: Dundurn Press, ISBN 1550020765 
  • Canadian Press (2002), Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family in Canada (Golden Jubilee), Toronto: Quarry Heritage, ISBN 1550823019 
  • Coates, Colin (2006), Majesty In Canada: Essays On The Role of Royalty, Hamilton: Dundurn Press, ISBN 1550025864 
  • McCulloch, Tony, Roosevelt, Mackenzie King and the British Royal Visit to the USA in 1939 
  • Monet, Jacques (1979), The Canadian Crown, Toronto-Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin & Company Ltd., ISBN 0772012520 
  • 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. doi:10.1111/1467-6443.00133. 
  • Smith, David E. (1997). "Republics, Monarchies and the Old Dominions". Canadian Parliamentary Review 20 (4). 
  • Smith, David E. (1999), The Republican Option in Canada: Past and Present, Toronto-Buffalo-London: University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802044697 
  • Tasko, Patti (2007), Canada's Queen: Elizabeth II: A Celebration of Her Majestys Friendship with the People of Canada, Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0470154446 
  • 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, ISBN 0-9781853-0-7 
  • Toporoski, Richard (1995). "The Invisible Crown Revealed". Monarchy Canada (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada). 
  • Vaughan, Frederick (2004), Canadian Federalist Experiment: From Defiant Monarchy to Reluctant Republic, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, ISBN 0773525378 


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

External links


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