Monarchy of Canada

Queen of Canada
Reine du Canada  (French)
Coat of arms of Canada.svg
Queen Elizabeth II in March 2015.jpg
Elizabeth II
since 6 February 1952
StyleHer Majesty
Heir apparentCharles, Prince of Wales[1]
ResidencesRideau Hall, Ottawa
La Citadelle, Monarchy and the Crown
St Edward's Crown with maple leaves.svg
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The monarchy of Canada is at the core of both Canada's federal structure and Westminster-style of parliamentary and constitutional democracy.[6] The monarchy is the foundation of the executive (Queen-in-Council), legislative (Queen-in-Parliament), and judicial (Queen-on-the-Bench) branches within both federal and provincial jurisdictions.[10] The sovereign is the personification of the Canadian state and is Queen of Canada as a matter of constitutional law.[11][12][17] The current Canadian monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. Elizabeth's eldest son, Prince Charles, is heir apparent.

Although the person of the sovereign is equally shared with 15 other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct.[23] As a result, the current monarch is officially titled Queen of Canada and, in this capacity, she, her consort, and other members of the Canadian Royal Family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of Canada. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. While some powers are exercisable only by the sovereign (such as appointing governors general), most of the monarch's operational and ceremonial duties (such as summoning the House of Commons and accrediting ambassadors) are exercised by his or her representative, the Governor General of Canada.[27] In Canada's provinces, the monarch in right of each is represented by a lieutenant governor. As territories fall under the federal jurisdiction, they each have a commissioner, rather than a lieutenant governor, who represents the federal Crown-in-Council directly.[28]

As all executive authority is vested in the sovereign, their assent is required to allow for bills to become law and for letters patent and orders in council to have legal effect. While the power for these acts stems from the Canadian people through the constitutional conventions of democracy,[29] executive authority remains vested in the Crown and is only entrusted by the sovereign to their government on behalf of the people, underlining the Crown's role in safeguarding the rights, freedoms, and democratic system of government of Canadians, and reinforcing the fact that "governments are the servants of the people and not the reverse".[30][31] Thus, within a constitutional monarchy the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with the sovereign normally exercising executive authority only on the advice of the executive committee of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, with the sovereign's legislative and judicial responsibilities largely carried out through parliamentarians as well as judges and justices of the peace.[30] The Crown today primarily functions as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance and a nonpartisan safeguard against abuse of power,[34] 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".[35][36]

Canada is one of the oldest continuing monarchies in the world.[19][37] Initially established in the 16th century,[n 1] monarchy in Canada has evolved through a continuous succession of French and British sovereigns into the independent Canadian sovereigns of today,[54] whose institution is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Maple Crown.[n 2]

International and domestic aspects

Map of the Commonwealth realms

The person who is the Canadian sovereign is equally shared with 15 other monarchies (a grouping, including Canada, known informally as the Commonwealth realms) in the 52-member Commonwealth of Nations, with the monarch residing predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom, and viceroys (the Governor General of Canada in the federal sphere and a lieutenant governor in each province) acting as the sovereign's representatives in Canada. The emergence of this arrangement paralleled the fruition of Canadian nationalism following the end of the First World War and culminated in the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931.[57] Since then, the pan-national Crown has had both a shared and a separate character and the sovereign's role as monarch of Canada has been distinct to his or her position as monarch of any other realm,[n 3][19][57][58] including the United Kingdom.[n 4][60][61][62][63] Only Canadian federal ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on all matters of the Canadian state,[n 5][62][64][65][66][67][68] of which the sovereign, when not in Canada, is kept abreast by weekly communications with the federal viceroy.[69] The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution and in Canada became a Canadian,[44][70][71][72] or "domesticated",[73] establishment, though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language,[44] for reasons historical, political, and of convenience.

This division is illustrated in a number of ways: The sovereign, for example, holds a unique Canadian title and,[74] when she and other members of the Royal Family are acting in public specifically as representatives of Canada, they use, where possible, Canadian symbols, including the country's national flag, unique royal symbols, armed forces uniforms,[75][76][77][78] and the like, as well as Canadian Forces aircraft or other Canadian-owned vehicles for travel.[79] 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.[79][80]

The sovereign similarly only draws from Canadian funds for support in the performance of her duties when in Canada or acting as Queen of Canada abroad; Canadians do not pay any money to the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Canada.[81][82]

Succession and regency

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

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

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;[57][83] hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King".[84][85] It is customary for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor general on behalf of the Privy Council, which meets at Rideau Hall after the accession. An appropriate period of mourning also follows, during which portraits of the recently deceased monarch are draped with black fabric and staff at government houses wear customary black armbands. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation keeps a regularly updated plan for a "broadcast of national importance" announcing the demise of a sovereign and covering the aftermath, during which all regular programming and advertising is cancelled and on-call commentators contribute to a 24-hour news mode.[83] The day of the funeral is likely to be a public holiday.[83]

The new monarch is crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 6] By the Interpretation Act of 2005, no incumbent appointee of the Crown is affected by the death of the monarch, nor are they required to take the Oath of Allegiance again,[86] 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.[87] This is because, in common law, the Crown never dies. After an individual ascends the throne, he or she usually continues to reign until death.[n 7]

The original Act of Settlement, 1701

The relationship between the Commonwealth realms is such that any change to the rules of succession to their respective crowns requires the unanimous consent of all the realms. Succession is governed by statutes, such as the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Settlement 1701, and the Acts of Union 1707. In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated and any possible future descendants of his were excluded from the line of succession.[88] As the Statute of Westminster 1931 disallowed the UK from legislating for Canada, including in relation to succession,[89] Order in Council P.C. 3144[90] was issued, expressing the Cabinet's request and consent for His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 to become part of the laws of Canada and the Succession to the Throne Act 1937 gave parliamentary ratification to that action, together bringing the Act of Settlement and Royal Marriages Act 1772 into Canadian law.[91][92] The latter was deemed by the Cabinet in 1947 to be part of Canadian law,[n 8][93] as is the Bill of Rights 1689, according to the Supreme Court of Canada.[95] The Department of External Affairs included all succession-related laws in its list of acts within Canadian law. In 2011, Canada committed to the Perth Agreement with the other Commonwealth realms, which proposed changes to the rules governing succession to remove male preference and removal of disqualification arising from marriage to a Roman Catholic. As a result of the Perth Agreement, the Canadian parliament passed the Canadian Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, which gave the country's assent to the Succession to the Crown Bill 2013, at that time proceeding in the parliament of the United Kingdom.

Certain aspects of the succession rules have been challenged in the courts. For example, under the provisions of the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701, Catholics are barred from succeeding to the throne; this prohibition has been upheld twice by Canadian courts, once in 2003 and again in 2014.[96][97][98][99]

Canada has no laws allowing for a regency, should the sovereign be a minor or debilitated;[69] none have been passed by the Canadian parliament and it was made clear by successive Cabinets since 1937 that the United Kingdom's Regency Act had no applicability to Canada,[69] as the Canadian Cabinet had not requested otherwise when the act was passed that year and again in 1943 and 1953. As the 1947 Letters Patent issued by King George VI permit the Governor General of Canada to exercise almost all of the monarch's powers in respect of Canada, the viceroy is expected to continue to act as the personal representative of the monarch, and not any regent, even if the monarch is a child or incapacitated.[69][100][101]

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