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Queen in Right of Quebec
Coat of arms of Québec.svg
Royal Coat of Arms of Quebec
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg
Elizabeth II
Queen of Canada (Reine du Canada)

Since 6 February 1952
Style: Her Majesty
First monarch: Victoria
Formation: 1 July 1867

By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, the Canadian monarchy operates in Quebec as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy;[1] and is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the province's government.[2] As such, the Crown, as it operates in the jurisdiction, is referred to as The Crown in Right of Quebec (French: couronne du chef du Québec),[3] Her Majesty in Right of Quebec (French: Sa Majesté du chef du Québec),[4] or The Queen in Right of Quebec (French: la reine du chef du Québec).[5] The Constitution Act, 1867, however, leaves many royal duties in Quebec specifically assigned to the sovereign's viceroy, the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec,[1] whose direct participation in governance is limited by the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy.[6]


Constitutional monarchy in Quebec

The Crown functions in Quebec in the same way it does in all of Canada's other provinces, with the Canadian monarch – since 6 February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II – being represented and her duties carried out by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec. This arrangement began with the 1867 British North America Act,[1] and continued an unbroken line of monarchical government extending back to the early 1500s, making Quebec the oldest continuously monarchical territory in North America. However, though Quebec has a separate government headed by the Queen, as a province, Quebec is not itself a kingdom.[7]

A viceregal suite in the André-Laurendeau building in Quebec City is used both as an office and official event location by the Lieutenant Governor,[8] while he or she resides in another home provided by the provincial Crown; the sovereign and other members of the Canadian Royal Family will reside at a hotel when in Quebec. The buildings are owned and/or leased by the sovereign in her capacity as Queen in Right of Quebec, and not as a private individual; the house and other Crown property is held in trust for future rulers and cannot be sold by the monarch except by her Lieutenant Governor with the proper advice and consent from the Executive Council of Quebec.


Royal associations

Quebec's monarchical status is illustrated via associations between the Crown and many organizations within the province, as well as through royal names applied regions, communities, schools, buildings, and monuments, many of which may also have a specific history with a member or members of the Royal Family. For example, Quebec has at least seven distinct features named for Queen Victoria, including the second largest area in Canada and Grand lac Victoria at the head of the Ottawa River, south of Val-d'Or.[9] This has been the case in Quebec for more than four centuries; Mount Royal was in 1535 dubbed as such by Jacques Cartier in honour of King Francis I.Those in the Royal Family today perform ceremonial duties when on a tour of the province, presiding over official events, as well as visiting hospitals, charities, schools, communities, and the like. There are across Quebec various monuments that were dedicated by a member of the Royal Family and/or honour the Crown; these include two statues of Queen Victoria in Montreal (one designed by the Queen's daughter, Princess Louise), one of King Edward VII,[10] and in Quebec City is a bust of King Louis XIV.[10] Also there is the Kent Gate, a gift to the province from Queen Victoria and the foundation stone of which was laid by Princess Louise on 11 June 1879,[11] and Christ Church Cathedral has King George III as its Royal Founder. Gifts are sometimes offered from the people of Quebec to a royal person to mark a visit or an important milestone; for instance, Queen Elizabeth II was in 1955 given the puck with which Maurice Richard scored his 325th career goal – thereby setting a new world record – during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on 8 November 1952.[12]

Organizations in Quebec may be founded by a Royal Charter, receive a royal prefix, and/or be honoured with the patronage of a member of the Royal Family, such as the Royal Montreal Curling Club, which is under the patronage of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and received its royal designation from King George V in 1924,[13] and McGill University, which was originally constituted as the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning through royal charter by King George III in 1801, before being reconstituted as a university by George IV in 1827. Further, though neither the monarch nor her viceroy form a part of the constitutions of Quebec's honours, the latter do stem from the Crown as the fount of honour; unlike in all of Canada's other provinces, however, the insignia do not bear any royal emblems. One honour that does bear royal references is Queen's Counsel, to which lawyers in Quebec may be appointed in the Queen's name.[14] Certain hereditary titles that were originally established for Quebec by the King of France continue to exist and be recognised by the present Canadian monarch; these include the Baron de Longueuil, which was created through Letters Patent from King Louis XIV in 1700.

Quebec sovereignty

The province's sovereigntist political party, the Parti Québécois (PQ), has generally been hostile to the Crown in Quebec, regarding it not as a distinct and essential part of the province's national structure – "the last bulwark of democracy," as former Liberal Quebec Premier Daniel Johnson, Jr. put it[15] – but as a federal institution involved in Quebec affairs.[16] However, University of Toronto professor Richard Toporoski held the theory that a sovereign, not independent, Quebec would still be under the sovereignty of the Queen: "...the real problem of the Quebec bill is not separation from Canada: Quebec has said that it wishes to preserve common elements – Canadian currency (issued officially by whom? – the Queen of Canada), for example, and the possibility of Quebec citizens being Canadian citizens (and who are Canadian citizens? – subjects of the Queen)."[17] The role of the Lieutenant Governor in a hypothetical case of the National Assembly voting to unilaterally secede has also been looked at; some postulating that the viceroy not only could refuse Royal Assent to such a bill, but would be duty bound to do so.


Prince George, Prince of Wales, presents the title deeds of the Plains of Abraham to Governor General The Earl Grey at the tercentenary of Quebec City in 1908.

Between French and British crowns

The area that is today Quebec was claimed by Jacques Cartier in the name of King Francis I after 1534, along the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula, and by 1541, Jean-François de la Roque de Roberval was charged by the King to act as Lieutenant of New France. Permanent settlement came when King Henry IV sponsored Samuel de Champlain's founding of Quebec in 1608, and in 1663 the region was declared by King Louis XIV to be a royal province of France. In an effort to boost the population of this new province, sent over 600 women of marrying age to be wed to colonial men, as well as engagés (male indentured servants) who were encouraged to wed with the Natives, and the population thereafter flourished, leading to the construction of infrastructure such as the Chemin du Roi (King's Highway) between Montreal and Quebec City, and the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral, in the welfare of which the King took great interest.[18] However, as a result of the Treaty of Paris of 1763, the French region was ceded by King Louis XV to King George III in exchange for Guadeloupe. On 7 October of the same year, a Royal Proclamation laid out the policy of the King regarding his newly acquired colonies of America. The following year, French-Canadian landlords and merchants submitted a successful petition requesting the orders of the King be available in French, and ten years after that, the Quebec Act was granted Royal Assent by George III, giving French Canadians continued use of both the French civil law and the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec. This act, in part, undermined the American revolutionaries' plans to gain the support of Quebecers, some of whom saw their rights as being safer under the Crown than in an independent American republic. Other Quebecers did, however, aid the Americans in their rebellion, during and after which some 46,000 people loyal to the Crown – dubbed United Empire Loyalists – fled north from the United States, many settling in the Eastern Townships area of the Province of Quebec, where the King granted each family 200 acres (0.8 km2) of land. At the same time, thousands of Iroquois and other Aboriginals were expelled from New York and other states, resettling under the protection of the Crown in what is now Quebec. Continuing today, Quebec residents descended from these original refugees retain the post-nominals UE, standing for United Empire.

In 1787, Prince William Henry (later King William IV) became the first member of the Royal Family to visit Quebec,[19] and, four years later, his brother, Prince Edward (later the father of Queen Victoria), arrived in Lower Canada, as the area had come to be known, and resided in Quebec City for three years, seeing the establishment of the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, a project of personal interest to his father, the King.[18] It was during this period that the Prince witnessed the unrest caused by the mixing of French and British cultures; in 1792, a riot, fuelled by ethnic differences, broke out at one of the polling stations during the first elections for the provincial Legislative Assembly. There, the Prince climbed up to where he could be heard and addressed the crowd, stating: "Part then in peace. I urge you to unanimity and accord. Let me hear no more of the odious distinctions of English and French. You are all His Britannic Majesty's beloved Canadian subjects." It was reportedly the first time the word Canadian, which had previously been reserved only for Francophones, was used in a manner that included all colonialists.[20] Still, the political culture, in combination with the rise in power and influence of the United States, led Louis-Joseph Papineau to use his political connections to stir up republican sentiment, eventually leading to the Lower Canada Rebellion in 1837.[21] Most colonists, though, did not espouse a break with the Crown,[22] and the rebellion failed, with Papineau fleeing to the United States. Responsible government was thereafter granted in 1848 by Queen Victoria, altering the naure of the Lieutenant Governor's role. Popular support for the monarchy remained high as well, and in 1860, Victoria's son, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, embarked on a successful three month tour of the Canadian colonies, that included a stay at the Governor General's residence at Spencerwood, the dedication of Victoria Bridge, and a raft run of the timber slides of the Chaudière River.[23]

Province of a new kingdom

The newly formed kingdom called the Dominion of Canada emerged with Confederation in 1867,[24][25][26] with the Crown continuing, though in a modified guise, as the core of governance in the new province of Quebec; though the Fathers of Confederation had intended otherwise, Quebec gained through the union its own semi-sovereign segment of the Crown's jurisdiction, with the Lieutenant Governor acting as the direct representative of the Queen, rather than her federal viceroy in Ottawa.[27][28]

Soon after, Queen Victoria's son, Prince Arthur, spent between 1869 and 1870 with the First Battalion of the Rifle Brigade in Montreal. His nephew, Prince George, Duke of Cornwall, and the Duke's wife, Mary (later to be, respectively, King George V and Queen Mary), travelled across Canada for two months in 1901, passing through Quebec, and George, by then as Prince of Wales, returned again to celebrate Quebec City's tercentenary in 1908,[23] part of which involved his presenting the title deeds to the Plains of Abraham to Governor General The Earl Grey. As well, the official memorial record of the anniversary was titled The King's Book of Quebec, with the assent of George V, the reigning monarch at the time the volume was published in 1911.[29] The events were popular with Quebec residents, leading George-Étienne Cartier to opine that Quebecers were "monarchical by religion, by habit, and by the remembrance of past history."[30] This sentiment also expressed itself when in 1919 the monument to George-Étienne Cartier at the base of Mount Royal was inaugurated by telegram from King George V at Balmoral Castle, and Victoria Square was named for the Queen during the visit of her son, Prince Albert, Prince of Wales.

The first tour of the province by the country's reigning sovereign began when King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth, landed at Quebec City in 1939 on the Canadian Pacific liner RMS Empress of Australia. It was while there that the King held audience with Quebecers in the Legislative Council chamber of the Legislative Assembly Building,[31] and two Boer War veterans of Scottish heritage, in order to settle an argument, asked the Queen when presented to her: "Are you Scots, or are you English?" Elizabeth's response was reported as being: "Since I have landed in Quebec, I think we can say that I am Canadian."[32]

A modern Elizabethan era

On behalf of her ailing father, the King, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, toured Quebec in late 1951. Within months, however, the King had died and Elizabeth ascended to the throne as queen, her coronation taking place in London, England, in June 1953, attended by a number of Quebec dignitaries, including Cabinet ministers Onésime Gagnon and John Samuel Bourque.[33] As queen, Elizabeth returned again to Quebec in 1957, and numerous times after that. Royal tours of the province, though, were not always organised in a politically sensitive manner; for instance, prior to her 1959 trip around Quebec, the President of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society, with the support of the Mayor of Quebec City, requestd of the tour officials that, on the evening of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Elizabeth light the main bonfire in celebration. Though the Queen did lay a wreath at the James Wolfe Monument on the Plains of Abraham, the Queen's Canadian Secretary at the time, Howard Graham, left the bonfire off the itinery, leading to complaints.[34]

Through the 1960s and 1970s, Quebec nationalism grew and created an atmosphere in which the Canadian monarchy was a target of anti-federal, anti-English sentiment.[35] During a visit to Quebec in 1964, at the height of the Quiet Revolution, the Quebec press published reports of a separatist plot to assassinate the Queen, and when Elizabeth arrived at Quebec City she was greeted by demonstrators who lined the route of her procession showing their backs to her. On Samedi de la matraque (Truncheon Saturday), police violently dispersed anti-monarchy demonstrators and arrested 36, including some who were there to cheer the Queen.[36] Still, during that visit that Elizabeth ignored the controversy in favour of praising, in a speech delivered in both French and English to the National Assembly,[31] Canada's two "complimentary cultures" and the strength of Canada's two founding peoples. She stated: "I am pleased to think that there exists in our Commonwealth a country where I can express myself officially in French... Whenever you sing [the French words of] "O Canada" you are reminded that you come of a proud race."[20][37] The Queen's sentiments, however, did not quell the nationalist movement in the province; at the first meeting of the constitutional conference in Ottawa four years later, delegates from Quebec indicated that a provincial president might suit the province better than a viceroy.[38]

Queen Elizabeth II dines with Premier Robert Bourassa in Quebec City, 1987.

Queen Elizabeth II was in Quebec again in 1967 for Expo 67, and in 1976 to open the Summer Olympics in Montreal, the latter of which was again met with complaints from nationalists and separatists. Robert Bourassa, then the Premier of Quebec, first pushed Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to advise the monarch to attend the opening; however, Bourassa later became unsettled about how unpopular the move might be, annoying Trudeau who had already made arrangements.[39] The leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ) at the time, René Lévesque, sent his own letter to Buckingham Palace, asking the Queen to refuse her prime minister's request, though she did not oblige the premier as he was out of his jurisdiction in offering advice to the sovereign.[40] Then, in 1970, some PQ members elected to the National Assembly refused to take the constitutionally required Oath of Allegiance, and in an interview the following year Lévesque, when asked if there would be any role for the monarchy in a sovereign Quebec, responded: "Are you joking? Why? I have great respect for the Queen... but what the hell part should monarchy have in Quebec?"[40][41]

The monarchy played no large part in the referendums on Quebec sovereignty. During the second vote on independence, however, 29-year-old Pierre Brassard, a DJ for Radio CKOI-FM Montreal, tricked the Queen into speaking with him, in both French and English, for 14 minutes while he pretended to be Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. When told that the separatists were showing a lead, the Queen revealed that she felt the "referendum may go the wrong way," adding, "if I can help in any way, I will be very happy to do so." However, she pointedly refused to accept the suggestion that she intervene on the issue without first seeing a draft speech, her handling of the call winning her plaudits from the DJ. At the time of the referendum itself, the Queen was at a refueling stop in Los Angeles, on her way to the 1995 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. There, she asked her pilot not to take off until she had heard the results of the vote.[42]

In 2008, plans were underway for the quatercentenary of the founding of Quebec City and both the city and provincial government mused about inviting the Queen or another member of the Royal Family to attend the festivities, as had been done a century prior. However, this prompted PQ members of the National Assembly to complain about federal intervention in a provincial affair, and separatists threatened demonstrations should any Canadian royal person be present the following year. Though it was met with dissatisfation from officials in Quebec, the federal government did not advise the sovereign to attend, nor any other Royal Family member, instead sending the Governor General to preside over the fête.[43]

See also


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