So, like, do we have a Queen?
With all the to-do (very British word, isn’t it?) about the royal wedding, I got to wondering two things: what exactly do members of the royal family do, and what are they, really, to us Canadian-folk?
Let me begin with what I consider to be the most fun part to learn, if only because I had no idea:
The Queen of England is not our Queen. Well, she is, but when we’re talking about our queen, she’s the Queen of Canada. Yes, indeedy, it’s a whole separate title and role. So, like, we do have a Queen.
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
But ‘Queen of Canada’ is perfectly fine–aren’t we fancy?
Does that mean that Prince Charles is a Prince of Canada? No, apparently not. He’s just the Queen’s son and heir to the throne.
What does she do for us then as our Queen and Defender of the Faith?
Essentially, she keeps up-to-date on what’s going on with we Canucks, she makes it over for a visit as often as her schedule allows, and she and her Governor-General do ceremonial stuff, like conferring awards and titles and sending birthday cards to really old people. Because we are what’s called a constitutional monarchy, the Queen of Canada (let’s start saying that lots) is obliged to act entirely on the advice of our government, and she mostly does that through the Governor-General.
What’s the Governor-General exactly?
The Governor-General is basically the Queen’s stand-in because, come on, would you be able to do everything if you were the Queen of 53 independent countries? Conversely, the Governor-General also represents Canada when dealing with the international community, and especially the Commonwealth. The Queen appoints the Governor-General–he or she is not elected–but the appointment is made on the advice of government, and sometimes, only one name is offered for consideration, and that’s okay with the Queen.
The Governor-General does have some practical-ish duties. It’s his/her job to make sure we have a Prime Minister and parliament in place, and he keeps in touch with the PM and offers counsel to parliament. But he’s mostly a goodwill guy by the sounds of it, which is nice to have, I suppose.
Shout out to the current title-holder, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada because right before he got that promotion, he was President of the bestest dang institution of higher learning in all the land–the University of Waterloo.
But the other aspect of my investigation: what does the royal family actually do every day?
First off, it sounds like the Queen of Canada is pretty busy–not as the Queen of Canada, but she’s got a day job as the Queen of England and moonlights as the Queen of a bunch of other places, too. It’s not all tea and crumpets. But it’s also not that interesting, so you can read it about yourself on her website.
Prince Charles is the cool guy, believe it or not. He helps the Queen in her duties, but he also runs charities, institutions, foundations, and trusts. And when I say he runs them, I mean he actually runs them. He doesn’t just pay people to do it while he gets fitted for suits. And these are good, legit, honest-to-god-helping-people undertakings. He also spends considerable time advocating for charities and causes that he doesn’t run himself, but that he supports. He is patron or president of more than 400 (!) organisations. And you were all proud of yourself ’cause of that one PTA meeting you went to, weren’t you? If you follow no other link from this page, follow this one: stuff the Prince of Wales does. Seriously, you have no idea.
And the young’ens? They have jobs. Harry’s training to be a pilot after returning from active duty in Afghanistan, and William is already a fully active search and rescue pilot. In their spare time, like all twenty-something blokes, they run their own foundation, patronize charities, and oh, Harry started one of his own to help orphans. So just pretty much your average guys….
I used to think that we should eliminate the monarchy entirely from our government. Now I think we should be asking them to get more involved. These are people who do good things–we could use more of those.
Yes, Amanda, there is a Queen of Canada.