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. 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] including the United Kingdom.[n 4] Only Canadian federal ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on all matters of the Canadian state,[n 5] of which the sovereign, when not in Canada, is kept abreast by weekly communications with the federal viceroy. The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution and in Canada became a Canadian, or "domesticated", establishment, though it is still often denoted as "British" in both legal and common language, for reasons historical, political, and of convenience.
This division is illustrated in a number of ways: The sovereign, for example, holds a unique Canadian title and, when 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, and the like, as well as Canadian Forces aircraft or other Canadian-owned vehicles for travel. Once in Canadian airspace, or arrived at a Canadian event taking place abroad, the Canadian Secretary to the 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.
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.
Succession and regency
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; hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King". It is customary for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor general on behalf of the Privy Council, which meets at Rideau Hall after the accession. An appropriate period of mourning also follows, during which portraits of the recently deceased monarch are draped with black fabric and staff at government houses wear customary black armbands. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation keeps a regularly updated plan for a "broadcast of national importance" announcing the demise of a sovereign and covering the aftermath, during which all regular programming and advertising is cancelled and on-call commentators contribute to a 24-hour news mode. The day of the funeral is likely to be a public holiday.
The new monarch is crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 6] 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, 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. 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. As the Statute of Westminster 1931 disallowed the UK from legislating for Canada, including in relation to succession, Order in Council P.C. 3144 was issued, expressing the Cabinet's request and consent for His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 to become part of the laws of Canada and the Succession to the Throne Act 1937 gave parliamentary ratification to that action, together bringing the Act of Settlement and Royal Marriages Act 1772 into Canadian law. The latter was deemed by the Cabinet in 1947 to be part of Canadian law,[n 8] as is the Bill of Rights 1689, according to the Supreme Court of Canada. 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.
Canada has no laws allowing for a regency, should the sovereign be a minor or debilitated; none have been passed by the Canadian parliament and it was made clear by successive Cabinets since 1937 that the United Kingdom's Regency Act had no applicability to Canada, as the Canadian Cabinet had not requested otherwise when the act was passed that year and again in 1943 and 1953. As the 1947 Letters Patent issued by King George VI permit the Governor General of Canada to exercise almost all of the monarch's powers in respect of Canada, the viceroy is expected to continue to act as the personal representative of the monarch, and not any regent, even if the monarch is a child or incapacitated.