As we suffer through more breathless coverage of the royal visit (as an unrepentant monarchist, even I am done with the ridiculousness of the coverage), I felt that I should point out a bit of basic civic literacy surrounding the monarchy that we seem to constantly forget.
First and foremost, the Canadian monarchy – sometimes known as the “Maple Crown” – is actually a separate legal entity from the British monarchy. With the Statute of Westminster, the Canadian Crown was created as a separate body that just happens to be made up of the same people who constitute the British royal family. Thus, for us, Queen Elizabeth II is not only the Queen of England, she is also the Queen of Canada as a separate legal entity. As the Queen of Canada, she has separate honours, titles and insignia. When Prince Charles or Prince William come to visit as her heirs, they are visiting as members of the Canadian monarchy, not the British, and they, too, have their own separate honours, titles and personal flags. If the British abolished their monarchy tomorrow, we would still have ours, and the Queen would still be the Queen of Canada, even if she were no longer the Queen of England. If we really wanted to (and could stomach an appropriate constitutional amendment, albeit there is debate as to which particular formula one would use), we could designate a different heir other than whoever is deemed so by the British line of succession. Hence, people waving the Union Jack are flying the wrong flag – when in Canada, the Royals are the Canadian monarchy and should be presented with the Canadian flag – the Maple Leaf.
And now that this popular misconception has been addressed, perhaps we could mention something else. The Crown does not refer to the Royal Family: it is a political corporation and the keystone of executive authority in our system of parliamentary democracy. Similarly, the pageantry and symbolism of the monarchy is not tied to the constitutional functions and legal powers of the Crown. If we abolished the monarchy, the act would necessitate a major reorganization of our Crown powers.
Okay, now that that’s been cleared up, here’s a photo I took from the royal couple’s arrival at the National War Memorial this afternoon.
And here is the Duke’s speech at Rideau Hall.