Defending the royals

Why Canada needs the monarchy (even if it’s these two)


Members of Britain's royal family cheer as competitors participate in a sack race at the Braemar Gathering in Braemar

On May 18, 2014 Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, kick off their second Canadian tour since 2012 in Halifax. This piece on how the Crown is woven into every line of our constitutional order was originally published in 2009.

In 1963, the historian W. L. Morton published a splendid one-volume history of Canada. The title still has the power to thrill, and to shock: The Kingdom of Canada.

At the back there is a list of all the kings and queens “sovereign over Canada.” There are 18 of them, nine French and nine English, from Francis I, who ruled at the time of Jacques Cartier’s first landing in 1534, all the way to Elizabeth II. Prince Charles will one day be the 19th King of Canada, and Prince William the 20th.

So you see, we are not, as some imagine, a young country. We are an ancient kingdom, with a history of continuous monarchical rule stretching back nearly five centuries. For 20 generations it has endured, each king ascending on the death of the last—the Conquest is the sole discontinuity—much as 20 generations of Canadians have built upon their parents’ legacy.

You either think there is something glorious in that, or else you find it a little embarrassing. You either think this country is the cumulative work of generations, or you imagine it all began yesterday.

The latter view is on parade again, in all its preening, modish finery, as it is on the occasion of any royal visit. It is a kind of custom, a ritual show of disloyalty as hoary in its way as any gathering of the Daughters of the Empire. Scarcely have the Queen or Prince Charles set foot on Canadian soil before they are greeted with a 21-gun salute of newspaper columns complaining at the outmodedness of it all. Here we are in the 21st century, and still a monarchy?

Well, yes. And while we’re at it, isn’t democracy getting a little long in the tooth as well? How long has it been, 2,000 years? And that system of English common law, whew, isn’t it time we replaced the liner on that?

It’s pointless to debate, in a way, since the monarchy isn’t going anywhere. It isn’t only that the position of the Queen is embedded in the Constitution, irrevocably—or the next thing to it, given the requirement of provincial unanimity. It is that the Crown, as an institution, is woven into every line of our constitutional order. It isn’t just some little old lady in London or a middle-aged gent who talks to plants. It is, as the political scientist David Smith has observed, “the organizing principle of Canadian government,” whose “pervasive influence . . . reaches into every area of government activity in all jurisdictions.” The Crown principle is at the root of all executive power. It is the foundation stone of our system of laws (the “Queen on the Bench”), our courts and legislatures: the “Queen in Parliament,” embodying the Crown, Commons and Senate. It is the common fount of federal and provincial sovereignties. It is the basis of our system of land tenure, of the Indian treaties, of an impartial civil service, with a whole body of precedent attached to it and underpinned by several centuries of political thinking. To do away with the Crown, to replace it with a republic, would require nothing less than a revolution.

The Queen is the personification of that system of laws and government, indeed of the state itself. The idea is rich in symbolism. In other systems, the State is an abstraction. In ours, it is represented by a human being: a reminder that, as much as ours is a system of “laws not men,” it is all the same concerned with actual flesh-and-blood persons, whose welfare may not be sacrificed to any principle, however exalted. The Queen’s powers being constitutional and circumscribed, not arbitrary and absolute, serves further as a reminder of the hard-fought victory of parliamentary democracy, a struggle won not, in the main, by violent revolution but by gradual reform.

At the same time, as the permanent embodiment of popular sovereignty, the Queen humbles the pretensions of democratic politicians, in possession of their temporary majorities. As it has been said, when the prime minister bows before the Queen, he bows before us. That’s of more than symbolic value. In moments of crisis, as during the power struggle of the last year, when it is unclear who holds the democratic mandate, the Queen (or in this case her representative in Canada, the governor general) plays a vital role as constitutional arbiter, her powers and legitimacy serving as a bulwark against abuses or usurpations.

And yet, for all that, the Crown is in trouble in Canada. Impregnable as its position may be in law, manifold as its virtues may be in principle, it has all but ceased to command the loyalty and affection of the people—one of its primary functions, after all, and the basis of its legitimacy in the long run. The abolitionists at least pay it the compliment of thinking it matters, most comically in the case of those fanatical nationalists in Quebec who see the Crown as the source of all their woes. For the rest of us, the monarchy inspires little more than a puzzled smile at best, as the tepid response to Charles and Camilla’s tour suggests, and as poll after poll confirms.

This is hardly accidental. It has been the deliberate policy of successive federal governments of both stripes, who have done their best to belittle and diminish the monarchy—“like the urchin,” in the journalist Peter Brimelow’s immortal phrase, “secretly urinating on some shrub in the hope that it will die.” The Queen’s recent honouring of Jean Chrétien was more than a little ironic in this regard, given that the most Chrétien ever offered in the way of a public show of allegiance was the bland observation that, well, you know, it was the system we have. In most countries loyalty to the head of state—that is, to the existing constitutional order—is the first duty of citizens. Here it is a kind of rebellion, the obsession of a radical fringe group dismissively referred to as “monarchists.”

But it is not only that. If we are honest, even we monarchists must acknowledge that there is something flawed in the institution itself. If the Queen, her heirs and successors have all but disappeared from Canadian public consciousness, it may be because they are hardly ever here. Once, when Canadians felt themselves an integral part of the British Empire, it might have been possible for the Queen to remain in her present position of absentee landlord. Not so today. We can remind people all we like that she is legally Queen of Canada, not Queen of England-thus-of-Canada, but they won’t feel it. And the more that modernizers like Charles attempt to make the monarchy more relevant, by diving into issues of everyday life in Britain, the more remote he will seem to Canadians.

The problem is not the monarchy, as such. It is its delegated status. There’s an outdated colonial relic in our constitutional firmament, but it isn’t the monarchy. It’s the Governor General. If the monarchy is to be a lived reality in Canada and not merely a constitutional principle, if it is to fulfill its traditional role as a focus of allegiance—symbol, as the poet Ted Hughes has said, of the “spiritual unity of the tribe”—it can no longer fob us off with former speech writers and mid-level CBC journalists, the stuff of recent governor general appointments. We need the real thing.

At one point, years ago, it was suggested that Prince Andrew should take it upon himself to cross the pond and start a new wing of the dynasty. It’s probably getting a little late for him. But . . . well, what about Prince Harry? We know the role that William will play, once his grandmother and father have passed on, in which service he is already being trained. But Harry is looking forward to a lifetime of feckless indulgence. Doubtless that has its charms, but if he’d like to perform some more useful role, reviving the monarchy in its largest dominion would be a good life’s work.

Imagine not just a King of Canada, but a Canadian King: living here, raising a family here, his children speaking in Canadian accents, in both official languages. Perhaps Harry will take some convincing, giving up London for Ottawa. But if he cares about the remarkable institution into which he was born, he should be prevailed upon to take one for the team.


Defending the royals

  1. At last a professional writer that gives an unbiased account of the critical relationship that Canada has with the Crown. Regrettably most Canadians dont have a clue about the ramifications of that severance and only look at the people involved rather than the INSTITUTION.
    Thank you to Andrew Coyne.
    Perhaps DiManno can also educate herself through your article.

  2. Could any person could become King or Queen of Canada by royal decree and a parliamentary declaration of loyalty?

    Also, would this new King of Queen of Canada be bound by the Act of Succession? If so, could the Act of Succession be declared unconstitutional by the Charter?

    • the supreme court does not have the autghority to rule against the crown as thor they would be abrogating their own oath check out the privy council I forget the latin term

      • Would that mean that the head of state for Canada would still have to be anything but a Catholic?

        • The supreme court has already ruled that the act of succession is a part of a constitution due to the shared nature of our crown; the charter cannot be used to declare it invalid.

          However, since the repatriation of our constitution, we can amend the succession laws in this country but, it would require abandoning the shared nature of the crown. If we wanted to we could remove the anti-catholic provisions and remove male preference for succession. Doing this would be a herculean feet considering amendments affecting the nature of the crown require all provinces and the federal government to agree to the change.

        • The Charter can not overrule the Constitution. Period. This was actually taken to court in Ontario, and as was expected, the Court found that it had no authority to rule in favour of the Charter over the Constitution.

          It is worth noting that Charles himself is in favour of removing the Act of Succession 1702 from barring a person of another faith from becoming Monarch.

          But until all 16 of Her Majesty's realms agree (Any changes to the line must be agreed by all of them) to change it only those in Communion with the Church of England can become Monarch.

          • Well, all this misses the obvious point: if we adopt Harry or Andrew as a new King we will be changing the terms of succession; ie we no longer need to adhere to the requirement for the other realms to agree; because we would be removing ourselves from a common monarch; and in that case there is no reason not to change the other provisions in the act of succession and modernise it.

          • wHAT OTHER race or religion would put up with the anti-CATHOLIC MAKE UPof the British Monarchy? Plus having a monarch as head of state who resides in Britain.Get with it Canada; we are better than this.

  3. A well argued piece, that could easily be summed up by Wells's first law:

    In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    oh, and also that other one that's popular in these parts…

  4. The British themselves don't seem to know if there will continue to be a Monarch in Britain after Queen Elizabeth II. If there is no longer a Monarch in Britain, where will that leave Canada's Constitution?

    • Good question. Got an answer Mr. Coyne?

    • The Queen is Queen of Canada, independent of her role as Queen of Great Britain. If the British were to abolish the monarchy, it would have no bearing on Canada, its constitution, or the Canadian Crown.

      • And yet, she (or by that time, he) would probably still refuse to reside in cold, wintery Canada. Thus setting Canada up for an absurd and embarrassing predicament. Thanks to people like Andrew.

        Trust me, Andrew, we have enough lawyers in this country to draft an acceptable mechanism to transfer the sovereignty embodied by the current Queen to another titular head of the country. A proposal could be drafted explaining to Canadians how the transfer would occur. Legislatures could be asked to adopt the model, and each could take as much time as it needs to do so. When ten provinces have done so, Parliament could adopt a resolution altering the Constitution accordingly. There would be no need for timetables, or Constitutional crisis.

        It might take a while, but obviously, there is no rush.

        But having an English Monarch as the top of our political/legal/constitutional structure is not "irrevocable", especially for a grown up country.

        Your argument is basically that "it's too hard". This argument is singularly weak.

        • I don't know about a "grown up country" but I refuse to pledge allegiance to a set of "Canadian values" that someone else has decided for me. So what are you going to do with people like me?

          • Nothing, it's a free country.

            Monarchists tend to be the ones who push "oaths to the Queen", and that sort of thing.

          • It isn't that is it "too hard", and to suggest that's what this article implies that is "weak". It IS a significant challenge, and one that will open up Alberta and Quebec to anything is wants to request from the Federal Government. As I stated, this country does not have a very good history of national Constitutional changes and to open up that can of worms to change a perfectly working system is, in a word, weak.

          • "To do away with the Crown, to replace it with a republic, would require nothing less than a revolution."

            This suggests that we cannot have a constitutional change without bloodshed. It is a statement that is both wrong and inflamatory, and perhaps even a little bit desparate.

          • Never heard of the Glorious Revolution, eh? Hint, it was bloodless.

          • Hint, no it wasn't. I studied British history in university. I suggest that you do more research.

          • Well, not quite.

            And it wasn’t exactly a revolution either. The currently ruling bunch invited in the Dutch to hijack government. It was a coup, sponsored by a foreign power.

        • I don't know MaggiesFarmboy. I haven't looked at the Constitution Acts that preceded the Constitution Act of 1982 since I studied constitutional law in the mid 80's, and all I really remember from them is the division of powers because we can see them at work all the time in our Federal/Provincial governments. But Andrew could be right, it might be far to unweildy to try to try to change the very foundation of Canada by Constitutional amendment.

          But why can't we create a Canadian Monarch ourselves? We do we have to import a British one? We'd need someone who is part French, part English, who Canadians will agree on as fit to begin a lineage. I think such a position would have to be far better remunerated than that of GG, because that Monarch would have to spend his/her entire life carrying out a tradition in a seemly manner, and would be required to produce an heir.

          • What of the Canadians who are not of French or English lineage?

            Why can't we just hold a lottery and give it to whoever wins? Wouldn't that be far?

            The French nor the English rule Canada; Canadians do. So, why is it that Canadians have to be French and English? I think that a Canadian monarch who just speaks the two languages and frequents Montreal and Ottwa would be suffice–you probably don't think so. But, if the "ruler" of our country HAS to of a certain ethnic lineage, then that's racist, and even more reason for why there should be no monarchy whatsoever.

          • First of all, Keile, French and English are not races. Secondly, they were the founders of Canada, nobody else was. And they remain Canada's two majorities. A lottery? Yeah that's "far".

            I don't personally think it will be as easy for Britain to get rid of the Monarchy as some in Britain think it will be. They have a treaty with the Royals. There were conditions under which Parliament was allowed to replace the Monarch as "the ruler". The Monarch didn't relinquish supreme power for nothing.

            It will be easier for Britain than it will be for us, though. They don't have a Constitution.

            I don't seriously think anything is going to change anytime soon. But it's been an interesting discussion.

          • No, nothing will change soon, because we are a complacent people. Perhaps when the UK has abolished the Monarchy, we may think of following suit.

          • I can't think of something more ridicules than to create a Canadian Monarchy. We are trying to get rid of the British Monarchy.Canada is not a country of Kings ,Queens, Lords, Dukes and Earls. This is British , not Canadian.The monarchy is a symbol of a class society. We want to build a just and common society for all Canadians.

          • To describe the monarchy as "British" is as indiscriminate to Canadian society as describing it as "Australian" or "Jamaican". When discussing the role of the Crown in Canada, what does it matter that the Queen is Sovereign of over a dozen different nations? Like it or not, the monarchy exists in Canada, and is therefore a Canadian institution. As stated in the article, Canada has never had any other form of national leadership. We have never been a republic, and there has never been a "President of Canada". Hmmm, President of Canada. Say it out loud. Now that sounds unCanadian …

      • So we move the Palace from London to Ottawa. Peter T. Smith, a columnist for the Telegraph Journal,Saint John,N.B had a column entitled: WE'RE NOT A ROYAL NATION- In his last two paragraphs he says;" The monarchy has become like the wallpaper at your grandmother's house: it's old, quaint and of a bygone era, and it's so much in the background that you don't even notice it until some pollster asks you about it. Then it's an "oh yeah" moment, follow by the thought that maybe it was nice once upon a time, but those days are gone."

        The botton line is that we are not a British or Royal Nation. This is Canada and the only person who deserves to be head of state of Canada is a Canadian. We will always revisit this problem, until it is solved.

  5. I like the current arrangement just fine thank you. I am a fervent disciple of the "if it aint broke dont fix it school". The one institution in desperate need of reform is parliement. With concentration of power in the PMO, the house of commons is all but irrelevant and that is much more damaging to the public welfare than an absentee monarch.

  6. one of the cool things about being a monarchist is the amazing display of ignorance about how our system is designed and works. Andrew is right and in point of fact it would benefit everyone who has posted here to look into the canadain Privy Council and the oath taken by almost everyone in gov't – and at almost every level of gov;t – the importance of the crown is supreme sorry folks there is no alternative, no other recourse, no referendum , in point of fact even re-opening the constitution wouldn't do it – to rid oursleves of the monarchy requires only one recourse ' Revolution ' and then the gloves are off

  7. People forget to that the present Sovereign and her antecedents back to the Glorious (and bloodless) Revolution in 1688 reign by the will of the people as expressed in Parliament. That is how we shifted from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy in the first place. And any time we choose to go through the process, short or long as it may be, we can settle the Crown on anyone we choose. Wisdom made our political antecedents choose William and Mary in 1688, and the heirs of the daughter of Princess of Elizabeth of Great Britain by the Act of Settlement. I think they made the right choice. Our current Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, is possibly the greatest glory of our evolving constitutional and HM has never missed a step. I don't think we can say that about anybody else. Long may she reign, and when the sad moment of the accession of our next Sovereign occurs, I hope that Canadians everywhere will welcome her lawful heir and successor! Vivat Regina, Vivat Regina Elizabetha, May the Queen Live Forever (Coronation Ode, 1953, from Zadok the Priest by Handel)

  8. The best way to go about this would be to start by having the Queen appoint Harry as our Governor General when he is a bit older. Then, Parliament and the provincial legislatures would approve of sending out a referendum to make Harry the King of Canada when the monarch of the time dies (probably Charles by this point, since this plan would take a long time to negotiate and implement). Unless he chooses to marry his current girlfriend, he could marry a Canadian, making his heir a true Canadian King. Additionally, when we determine our own succession laws, we should completely revamp them so that the heir is the first born child, not son, we should separate the church and state completely and allow the king and his consort to follow the religion of their choice, and we should require that all future monarchs be Canadian born and speak both official languages. Lastly, once this new monarchy was in place, we could officially recognize all of our past monarchs, French and English alike.

    • how would we find the right Canadian for him to marry? We could have a reality TV contest!

    • You know at first I chuckled – then I stopped and actually thought about what you are proposing and it actually has potential

  9. Since Mme. Jean's term is coming to an end, Parliament should invite Prince Harry to be the next Governor-General. He might just take a liking to some Quebeker gal, and possibly put a damper on the separatist movement. The way Prince Harry would handle the Governor-General position, would depend on his remaining in that position, even eventuallly, becoming the first Canadian Monarch. It would certainly be interesting to see how such a scenario would play out. Somebody has to fill that position, why not Prince Harry—a real royal ? T'would certainly be more interesting an item than previous GGs that have hardly been noticed that they even existed.

  10. Actually Harry is too close to the succession to become king of Canada. Never know what might happen. But Peter Phillips fits the bill and already has a Canadian wife. Make him GG and see how it works out. Imagine a trial period to become king. LOL.

    • Leaving aside the mental tangle of the first sentence, since if he is "too close to the succession" that makes him close to being the King of Canada, there are ways to remove Harry from the succession of all other realms than Canada.

      The easiest is that he simply renounce all claims to all other realms, and if he does that before he has any heirs, then the deed is done.

      The other way would be for the Parliaments of the UK, Aus, NZ et al to remove Harry and his heirs from their own successions. That's not quite as crazy as it sounds since a move by Canada to put Harry into the immediate succession would likely precipitate similar moves in Aus & NZ so basically all the Commonwealth realms would probably have some conference to figure out who goes where and they all pass similar acts accordingly.

      There are also options other than a Republic which could see a form of elected monarchy roughly akin to that of the Vatican. Suppose for a moment that the Lieutenant Governors are replaced with "princes for life (or 75)", appointed by the sovereign. At the demise of the sovereign, the princes meet and appoint one of their own to the position of sovereign-for-life-or-75. In this way monarchy as an independent institution separate from Parliament survives but the hereditary aspect of it is removed. Of course the Freemasons might end up running the thing…

      • The problem with this proposal at the end of your comment is that there would be no immediate continuity, and no majesty to it all. The hereditary nature of the monarchy gives it a sense of tradition that no other mode can, and while that makes it non-meritocratic, it gives us a completely stable system of succession, with the future king/queen trained for his/her role from birth to deliver his/her very limited constitutional role. Making these "princes for life" into kings would leave us with much of the bitter taste of the archaic, patronage-based Governors General.

    • We could just have an understanding that, if Harry takes up the Canadian crown, he would remove himself from British succession. Besides, by the time we got around to this, William would be married (he and Ms. Middleton are apparently wedding in 2011) and probably have at least one child, so the Brits would not need to worry about keeping a spare.

      And yes, Peter Philips married a Canadian, but do we really want the 10th/11th or whatever he is in line when we could have the younger brother of the eventual British king? It would be much more magnificient to have King Harry (well, officially King Henry, probably). And he has spent time in Canada when he was training for the army, and a good term as Governor General first would give him the necessary experience.

  11. Canadian Royalty? Bite your tongue…the last thing Canada needs is another set of hangers-on attached to the public purse. Besides, it would have to rotate between our founding nations, our indigenous nations and emerging multicultural nations. I suppose this could be accomplished through arranged marriages into politically important groups.

    I understand the historic, parliamentary, legal and cultural significance of Britain and the Monarchy but I do not see the necessity of having an embodiment rather than symbolic appreciation of its importance. I certainly find no comfort in the reality that a former CBC employee is the final arbitrator of Canada's constitutional questions. Those powers should be decided by the people, the MPs or the legal system. Even worse than the GG, is to consider Prince Charles as the symbol of the crown. It is like honoring Milli Vanilli as the symbol of musical genius or thinking that Obama deserves the Noble Peace prize (although the latter two actually had to do some work for their ill gotten prize).

    In the long run, the power of Britain and its royalty is diminishing both at home and abroad. The situation will be sorted out in a couple of possible ways:

    1. A gradual process where the former colonies and even Britain itself will get tired of the drama and expense of its royalty. We'll keep the gifts of representative government and law but throw out the glitzy packaging of kings and queens.

    2. Britain, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the EU, will be forced to discard all remaining traditions. How long will its masters on the Continent allow any national institutions to exist and even theoretically threaten its authority. The Monarchy is only one head office policy change or "I'm offended" complaint away from being shut down.

    • I don't see why a Canadian monarchy "would have to rotate between our founding nations, our indigenous nations and emerging multicultural nations." Rule would just always pass to the first born child of the previous king or Queen. If the king married someone from a different culture, then that would be great symbolism (as well as being good to keep the bloodline healthy), but there is no reason why the King can't be of British descent- the point is that he wouldn't have to be exclusively and explicitly British.

      I don't know how you have come to that thinking about the future of the Commonwealth, but the monarchy isn't just going to fade away. Regardless of what many people in Britain and the Dominions believe, removing the monarchy would be an extremely complicated process. The comment about the EU isn't really worth dignifying with a response, but there has been no movement towards creating a European head of state. The new "EU President" is merely a representative of the 27 EU leaders, chosen by those leaders.

      • I was being sarcastic about the arranged marriage thingy. Merely mocking Canada's reflexive commitment to endlessly appeasing Quebec, natives, multiculturalism and any other fashionable group or idea that comes along.

        The monarchy is fading away through apathy. Do Canadians really care about the royals like they used to? No, and this problem will only grow due to time and ethnic diversity. The structure of British law and government will remain but need to have a person (royal or delegate) will disappear in a generation or two.

        The power of the EU is growing like a weed. Italians were just recently ordered to get crucifixes out of classrooms by an EU commission because of the complaint of one foreigner. I was reading that about 80% of British laws now originate in Brussels. The EU will continue to add layer after layer of bureaucracy and politicians to increase the distance between themselves and voters (aka accountability). It is much easier to dictate to citizens by placing the decision-making and blame on another level of government or a far away bureaucracy. I doubt that rule by international agencies will tolerate any reminder of previous styles of government on the way to global community utopia, not just the monarchy but also representative democracy (eventually). Personally, I think that the British will have enough, come to their senses and start to reverse course but it will take a Thatcher or Reagen, not the Labour-lite alternative that currently exists and hopefully not a BNP type party.

        • lc bennett never feel guilty of any sarcastic idea the life we now know is a gift and is much better we laugh through it then be stiff lipped and right right right all the time! enjoy the life we have it is precious and it is also precious to laugh at these moronic traditions

  12. the iconoclastic luminaries of sophisticated traditions of past years but in the present generation of instant gratification and political leaderlessness the present generations will be clueless of fairy tale scripted extra human people who rule with traditions of outdated pomp and ceremony…these people will not be as highly regarded as andrew coyne reveres the royal kingdoms as opposed to republics….deep down in most minds there is no royal this and royal that…. only in the royals' minds and possibly in x box games…

  13. i caught andrew conyne on the cbc at issue panel about this..he tells it like it is…even if you don't like the monarchy everybody knows it is almost impossible to change our system so essentially you better get used to it

  14. For Canada, the Monarchy really does seem to boil down to "Worst system except for all the others."

    There really is little to recommend "monarchy" to a country except for "it's already there." Really, a bunch of inbred privileged snobs, who will never understand what "a real life" means, wielding executive power over a people? Do we see ANY country not having one trying to set one up? The "inbred privileged snobs" thing is really quite unfair to the people, and the "wield executive power" thing is unfair to the newborn who won (or maybe lost) the genetic lottery. You're born with it, you're stuck with it, you have no choice in your life. Yikes, where do I sign to abdicate? First male born trumps all other siblings, and by extension, everyone else: I hear a human rights commission rumbling to life. And I say all that as a full-patch fan of how Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has contributed to decades of stability, or what passes for that in Canada (attempted separation by incompetent terrorism, then attempted limited separation at the ballot box, then constitutional repatriation, then another attempted limited attempted separation by the ballot box…).

    Which makes Andrew's offer of "Canuck King Harry" absurd in the extreme. We would go to all the trouble of severing the role of the British monarchy… to establish a Canadian monarchy? So we can feed and water a cursed genetic lineage of privilege and power of our very own?

    No, thanks. Let's stick with what we have, as cruel as it may be to those born into that prison. If ever the Monarchy becomes a major impediment to our development, then we will be sufficiently roused to enact revolutionary change. Although I expect (hope?) that even Prince Charles will be insufficiently destructive to arouse such a movement.

    • The monarchy- those "inbred snobs"- serve as a reminder to us of the limits of democratic representation. Inevitably, any individual made into the country's head of state through a democratic process will represent him/herself more than the state as a whole, and democratic leaders inevitably pursue agendas to build themselves legacies; they strive in vain for some semblance of immortality. The monarch, unlike any democratically elected head of state, is constrained by the power of the tradition of her ancestors, which she will bestow, not upon some hated rival, but her own descendants, and by the strict consitutional and traditional limits of her power. All of this gives us a head of state whose power is in her magnificent symbolism, and whose immortality is in her family. Why can't we appreciate the potential cultural value of this institution, by working to make it truly Canadian?

      • JS, this "culturally valuable tradition" is already truly Canadian exactly as it is.

        So my point remains: To go to all that trouble, we should seriously question the "Monarchy" part of Canadian Monarchy, rather than just tinkering with the "Canadian." Or we should just save us all the trouble.

      • We don't need a British Monarchy; let alone a Canadian Monarchy.We are not a Royal Nation. Monarchists seem to forget that about 40 countries of the Commonealth are republics. Are you saying that they should be put out of this organization.Why do you have so little faith in Canada that you don't trust a Canadian as head of state. The GG does ALL THE WORK now. Reform the office and make it truly Canadian.

  15. What a stupidity! So if Harry comes to Canada & who goes to Australia, New Zealand, etc….etc….? Hello Mr.Coyne "monarchy" is a dead "duck" waiting to be remove, archaic as your opinion, who cares about "royals"!

  16. As an American of English ancestry who loves Canada, who has probably visited places in Canada that few Torontonians have ever heard of, and who has read Canadian, American, Latin American and our common aboriginal histories in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, I ask this: IS CANADA EVER GOING TO BECOME ITS OWN COUNTRY????

    Sorry for the outburst, but really, the proposition put forth by jackass monarchists and by jackass leftists is that if that German family (the Saxe Coburg Gotha Battenbergs, recast as “Windsor-Mountbattens”) were cut loose as Kings and Queens of Canada, then the anglophone masses of Canada would suddenly have no choice but to become Americans. Do you really think that Canada is not a real country, with its own heart, its own soul, its own traditions, its own right to be itself? This is the implication in the “Canada needs a monarchy line.” It is a pathology, a form of political brainwashing. At its least cynical, it is an homage to Loyalists, but for what – to deprive Canadians of something that dozens of countries in this hemisphere have – their independence from colonialism?

    Monarchism in Canada is a sick and cynical attempt to undermine true Canadian democracy. That is the real deal, folks. The so-called intellectuals and political elites in Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City want to continue to represent their opinions as the only stopgap and only hope for Canada to hold back some supposedly American desire to take Canada. Do you really believe that Americans want to take Canada? Most Americans are busy with their own lives, own communities. Most American corporations are focused on selling their products, largely to Asia and Europe and anywhere else. Even our weather reports don’t even usually show Canada on the map. If America is really on the verge of a takeover, you would think that we’d be whipped up every second for an anschluss. Canadian intellectuals and politicos should turn in their brains or paranoia and start being honest to their public.

    Canada is a great nation and the dream of a free Canada by people such as William Lyon Mackenzie, Louis Riel, Louis-Joseph Papineau, Joseph Howe, and countless other great patriots, lies dormant in this cynical game by power elites.

    As painful, biggoted, and wasteful as anti-Americanism is, I rather that the Canadian intelligensia fixate on that bigotry in order to make themselves sound smart than to try to destroy a yes young country that has been trying valiently since the first Nova Scotia assembly to be a “grown up” nation in trying to control of its own destiny, and yes, to throw off the yoke of foreign rule.

    Do you think that the Salvadorans and Hondurans are rushing to become Mexicans? Are the uruguayans rushing to give up their identities to become Argentines? Are the Antiguans secretly living in fear that they are really Jamaicans? IF YOU REALLY RESPECT Canada and love Canada, as real Canadians should, do you believe that the Canadian people could not handle a Canadian republic with an elected Canadian head of state, either on a weak president model such as Israel or a strong president model as in France or South Korea, or on some other method to be decided by Canadians democratically?

    I don’t wish to pry into one’s personal life, but I hope you know that Prince Harry’s biological father is James Hewitt, not Prince Charles. If you are in favor of a hereditary monarchy gripping Canada, you have chosen the wrong person to represent this supposedly unbroken line of kings. Sheesh!

    • Keeping the monarchy allows us to respect our ancient tradition of government- British and French- as Mr. Coyne points out. Also, if we adopt our own king, then surely we are not a colony. Lastly, a presidency would be bad for our democracy regardless of whether the President was "weak" or "strong." A "weak" president would just be beholden to the governing party, especially to the PMwho selects him/her , as the Governor General is now. A "strong" president would try to override our system of parliament democracy under the pretense of an urgent need for action, as happens in France, Korea, and to some extent even the United States, where, constitutionally, the president is not supposed to prepare any legislation for the congress, but just to sign or veto what it produces.

      • JSRobinson your making scary and inacturate comments. Canadians can thing for themselves today.The GG, not the Queen ,does all the work today. Reform the office and make it truly CANADIAN. Monarchists have held this country back long enough.What we need are reform that make us Canadian.

        • My point is that “Governor General” is an office that is inherently colonial.Removing the middleman position will give us a more authoritatively Canadian identity. As I have saidelsewhere, there is no reason tofear constitutional monarchy; many of the most successful countries in the world (Britain, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Canada) are constitutional monarchies. Spencer Robinson From: notifications@intensedebatemail.comTo: jsrobinson@live.caSubject: DownEast replied to your comment on Defending the royals

        • My point is that “Governor General” is an office that is inherently colonial.Removing the middleman position will give us a more authoritatively Canadian identity. As I have saidelsewhere, there is no reason tofear constitutional monarchy; many of the most successful countries in the world (Britain, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Canada) are constitutional monarchies. Spencer Robinson From: notifications@intensedebatemail.comTo: jsrobinson@live.caSubject: DownEast replied to your comment on Defending the royals

    • Don't get so worked up about OUR affairs, Sir.

      Canada is not Rwanda, thank you. It is an EXTREMELY successful and happy country, and the question of the monarchy is a light-hearted one.

      If you are so interested in worrying, worry about your own hugely unequal, violence-ridden country.

    • Do you really believe Americans want to take over Canada, whines Robert.

      Yes we do, Robert.

    • WOW Robert, you are a well-travelled intelligent man, BUT you DO NOT know what it means to be Canadian and NOT American ! ! A Canadian identity is something attained by LIVING IT, not just visiting or reading about it. However fantastic one may think America is, it is just a dog-eat-dog society, where the governments are bought by the rich and the powerful corporations and the media just advertises the glitter. I prefer being Canadian. Unfortunately, big brother down south just sees us as an annoyance that cannot be bought so easily, but is continually trying to destroy Canadianism, and eventually make Canada just another US state. I hope I DO NOT live to see that day. Our government system IS better than the US. The old monarch system is not constitutional monarchy.

    • You should be ashamed of yourself spreading this lie! The Princess of Wales did not even meet Hewitt until after Prince Harry was born! But apparently, you have no shame…

  17. Ah you poor man. Modern monarchies are fun. We get the pomp and circumstance and along with it we get all the warts and twitches. How can anyone compare poor defenseless Charles who didn't ask for the job and had better not bloody quit after getting this far and not been done in. (Mind you I think they came pretty close with that avalanche). Would you seriously want some political hack like Obama or Bush being head of state? It's bad enough we have to put up with the present GG a political appointee. Never mind that an election to attain some sort of head of state would cost a fortune every few years. No go out and cheer our blundering prince, he is a damn sight better than anything else you could think up. Unless you think I could do the job? All hail King Obit.

  18. The best strategy for Canada's future is maintain and strengthen our monarchial tradition by making it fully Canadian. This is not an argument based on a colonial or anti-American urge, but one inspired by civic nationalism. Our strength is in knowing and strengthening our ties to our glorious history, which begins in 1534- making us an older country than the US, which began settlement in the 17th century, not a "young country."

  19. Taking the decision to unload the monarchy in principle can be handled esaily through a referendum of all Provinces and Territories.
    Even if the result is 90%, the subsequent protocols would take over 20 years or more according to expert constitutional scholars.
    First problem will be the continuity of Treaties that First Nations made with the historic Crown, It must be upoheld or if not the First Nations will be in a revolution with the New Republic. Its a mess either way.

  20. Having an unelected foreign poodle as a ruler is an embarrassment to all Canadians. We could get along quite fine with out this waste of tax dollars.

    • Waste of Taxpayer's dollars? On average, it costs Canadian's a little less than 4 dollars per year, per person for the Monarchy in Canada, most of which deals with the GG's expenses. If the GG's office were to be raised to full head of state duties, I assure you, that number would sky rocket.

      The Taxpayers in the UK would have to pay for a Head of State anyway, and the monies the Crown gets from the civil list payments is ACTUALLY rent on land the Queen "owns"…. That is, it would have been her's if one of her ancestors hadn't agreed to allow the land for Public use, for which the Crown would receive payments, and then give up its ability to Tax the Ports ETC….

      • What?

        Canadians don't care about what the British are paying–that's irrelevant. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars to give 4 or 2 or anything to the Monarchy. Let the British do that.

  21. I am a staunch Monarchist. I admit it, and I am proud of it. But the absolute ignorance of our Monarchy that is being displayed here is astounding.

    Nevermind if you are for or against our Monarchy, MANY of you really need to learn just what it would take to remove the Crown in Canada. It would take nothing more than Parliament as a whole agreeing, and each of the Provinces to change the constitution, which CLEARLY states that Executive Power in and over Canada shall be continued to be vested in the Queen.. (Before anyone starts, no, we can't just declare a new king or simply not proclaim a new king as our Constitution also clears accepts the unwritten conventions of the UK "constitution".. Further, the Act of Succession isn't against the letter of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms since the Charter has no sway over the rest of the Consitution… Though it certainly is against the spirit of it, and even Charles wants it changed)

    If we open up the constitution to remove the Monarchy, Quebec, Alberta and any other province than is interested in getting more out of the Feds will have their two cents.. Let's face it, this country does NOT have a good history of nation-wide constitutional changes. So we go through that headache for what? The system works excellently as it is.. There is NO REAL advantage to us…

    • You are a strong monarchist's and I am a strong anti-monarchist's. Monarchists always try to present a scary situation.If we have a constituational meeting on the problem,then the head of state question would be the only item on the agenda. Since your so in love with the Royal Family ,why do you subjucate them to the abuse they must take from time to time. We are not a Brtish or Royal nation. This is Canada.

  22. I don’t know how to convince a sister nation that has been brainwashed on CBC nightly and elsewhere that the US either has some secret plot to conquer Canada or that in the hearts of Americans lies some grand desire to make Canada into US states. This is nonsense. Ask all the Canadians who come to the US who take thousands of jobs here, live here for decades, send their kids to local schools, etc. Ask them how Americans really feel about Canada. Ask them how many of their neighbors discuss taking over Canada. Ask them about the anti-Canadian content in their kids’ school curricula, ask them about the nightly commentators discussing Canadian control of the American media, economy, etc.

    As I said before, I rather that you continue anti-American screeds than talk up monarchism. Do you believe that the average Brit has been well served by the British monarchs over the last 200 years? Are they better off being near the kings, queens, nobles and other bootlickers? Or do they seem to do much better in countries like Canada, Australia, NZ, where the monarchs are far and where the aristocracy is farther away? Do they do OK in that hated country of the US?

    OK, so the plan is to create a “native” Canadian monarchy, is it? So where would the monarchists be in this picture? Would the most active be granted knighthoods? Would the Canadian Senate, already a withered institution, be turned formally into a House of Lords? Would the great North American principle of meritocracy be scrapped, because, after all, if monarchs are first, then shouldn’t there be nobles between the king and the rabble? If you want to take a productive and decent nation into the gutter, go ahead and install a monarchy. See how beaten down people start acting, like the average Brit.

    If you cannot bear a Canadian head of state, a democratic Canada, why are you in this continent? Shouldn’t you be in the UK, or is it that you like the Canadian way of life, but just want to have a king pat you on the head or have a chance in your life to bow or curtsey? Sorry, I know it’s not my place, as an American, but the Canadians that I have known are better than you, and they don’t need your monarchism to be Canadians. Canadians are not Americans who like kings, and if they stopped liking them, they would become Americans. This may be your simplistic conception of being a Canadian, but something is wrong with you if you think this. Do you think that the Swiss are French or Germans but haven’t figured it out yet? Do you think that the Irish are really English, but for the monarchy?

    It’s one thing for a former colony to have a legacy of monarchy involved in one’s country’s history or attitudes, and it is another thing rushing to remove the sovereignty of a free people and to replace it with a hereditary cabal and their sucklings.
    I seriously hope that this whole thread is some kind of satire that I just didn’t understand.

    • There is no reason why a Canadianized monarchy would result in the creation of a new aristocracy. We have never had landed nobilitiy in Canada, and never will. Right now, we have a monarch who is represented by the Governor General, usually a political hack or journalist chosen by the Prime Minister as a patronage appointment. "Canadianizing" the monarchy would only result in the elimination of the Governor General's position. Why bother having a wasteful middleman when we could have our own king?

      This king would be a CANADIAN HEAD OF STATE. There is nothing wrong with having a monarchy, especially since many of the most successful modern democracies (Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark) are constitutional monarchy. The system of constitutional monarchy, in fact, has a much better track record than the republican system. I do not believe in keeping the monarchy just to keep us different from the Americans, but because it is a great institution of stability and tradition that acts as a check on our parliamentary democracy to protect the people.

      • Well, actually, we do have a group in this country with hereditary rights and privileges dating back centuries, and some of them are landed too. They are the First Nations people. Perhaps you've heard tell of them!;) They have hereditary nobility among them, their chiefly families, and are quite keen on that element of their tradition. We also have the remnants of the old French seignieurial noblesse in Canada, who were recognised by the British when after the Conquest of New France. This only consists of one remaining family, Grant, who are female line descendants of the Le Moyne d'Iberville dynasty, who were created French barons in 1700 by Louis XIV. Their hereditary claim to recognition by Britain under the 1760 arrangements was conceded by Queen Victoria. You can look them up in older editions of Burke's Peerage under "Old Canadian Title".

      • The well being of countries that you name, like Canada ,Australia, Norway etc. that have non-resident or resident monarch has nothing to do with the monarchy ,but are established countries where they had the resources and people that did the hard work. Monarchs sat in their castles and did nothing. In fact some of then were nothing more than cruel dictators. Why do you thing the power was taken away from them.Now they are nothing more than glorified nobodies.

        Most of the nations in the third world were robbed blind by Britain, France. Holland, etc. Once they threw off the oak of Colonialism, then it will take a long time to get on their feet. Plus many of these countries have poor land ; lack of resources, education, etc.

        • I would counter your claim by saying that what these countries with monarchies have in common is that they didn't go through the periods of instabilitythat often come with changing into a Republic (andthat instability often remains).While the Republican model has produced successes like the United States, Israel and India,nations that decided to rid themselves of monarchy included Russia, Weimar Germany,Italy, and many African countries. These countries went through terrible periods to ris themselves of a worse kind of monarchy. If our monarch has strictly limited powers, and removing it from our constitution would require something not much less than a revolution and complete rewriting of the constitution, I am happy to stick with the monarchy.It took the French five tries to get their Republic right, and they were much moredesperate. I don't really get your point about colonies- yousaythat they are having a hard time recovering, and while you argue, correctly, that in the pastmonarchies have inflicted tyranny, my point is that if modern monarchs have strictly regulated powers, why need we be rid of them? Democratic governments still inflict much suffering on people, as many are fond of arguing about the US inIraq. From: notifications@intensedebatemail.comTo: jsrobinson@live.caSubject: DownEast replied to your comment on Defending the royals

    • The election of the US Head of State, the President, is just a "popularity" contest. The hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, spent on this "race" is absolutely disgraceful. Voters are bought off to vote for certain candidates, by the rich who lobby to control the President, Senate and Congress, and pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the winning candidates if they vote the right way—for the benefit of the lobbyists. Is this DEMOCRACY ?? Our parliamentary system does not allow bribes ! ! A Constitutional Monarch is to have the LAST say—if parliament and senate cannot agree, but must abide by the constitution, not his own fancy. Certainly does not allow corruption like in the US, where judges, senators and reps, etc. fill their own pockets with payola.. Canada's parliamentary system is much better.

      • We will have a different head of state than the U.S. Nothing will change, except the GG will be the head of state in a legal since.Monarchist's always try to make it scary, by telling us; they usually know better, that we would have the American system where the President is both head of state and head of govern.

        One thing that can be said about the office of President of the United States is that it is held in high respect by Americans; the same cannot be said about the head of state office in Canada and the British Palace.

  23. Great column, Andrew.

  24. I do not want or care for a "Canadian" monarchy. Most Canadians don't want or care for the British monarchy.

    There is no justification for having a monarchy–"history" doesn't do it for me or the majority of Canadians. Scrape the red tape, abolish this monarchy poppycock, and give the Brits the finger if they don't like it. Take the "monarchy" to vote and Canadians would overwhelmingly strike it down. I don't understand people who defend monarchies or royals or any of it. I do not need to show my children another Paris Hilton–rich from nothing and getting richer from nothing. The United States has it right, and they've been having it right for a few hundred years. No queen, no king, no prince–nothing if not elected by the democratic process.

    The appeal to tradition fallacy that because something has existed for 2000 years that it is still relevant is laughable–the monarchy is not.

    • In the end the results appear to be much better than from the US system. Whatever his faults I will take Charles as head of state over a George W anytime. The scale of the unmitigated disaster which was his administration is only now becoming fully apparent. The true problem with canadian democracy is not the monarchy but the concentration of power in the PMO. The supreme court has started to limit that power (by subjecting the royal priveledge exercised by the executive to the constraints of the charter of rights) but bringing the Prime Minister under tighter legislative control would be much more preferable.

      • Monarchist like ANTI PMO always try to confuse the public with the American system ,where the President is both head of state and the head of government. We say keep the same system but make the GG, through a system of reform our Canadian head of state.We are not a British and Royal Nation. The PM in our case would still be head of government.

    • Certainly, saying we should have a monarchy because That's The Way It Has Always Been Done is a fallacy. Of course, so is the contrary position of saying that we should abolish the monarchy because it is Outmoded and Unmodern.

      Are you strictly, utterly practical? Do you dissent from the arguments about history and identity? Fine, then. Here is a brief argument for retaining the monarchy on strictly physical grounds.

      It is, relative to the cost of having a president or other head of state, preposterously cheap for us to let our monarch sit in a house the British are paying for and simply put up an old CBC anchor in a mediocre Victorian mansion. We save an unbelievable amount of money doing that if you run the costs of the Canadian Crown against those of the presidencies of other mid-sized democracies.

      And do you really think there's no value in having a power source outside the traditional, corrupt system of power that currently exists in this country? I admit that the Governor-General as a patronage appointment is flawed in this regard, but luckily Her Majesty always could intervene if she wanted to. Do you trust Harper or Ignatieff or Layton or any of these toadies with the power of the head of state as well as government? I don't.

      • Lord Bob states that" the Queen could intervene if she wanted to.' Where was the Queen when our crisis was going on in Jan.? She was hiding in one of her 600 rooms in the British Palace, because it was none of her business. The Queen , the governm., and the people of Canada knew this.So reform the office; make the GG our real Canadian head of state, because that's reality today.

  25. We need the monarchy, at present, because we have no clear constitutional equivalent. However, isn't it patently absurd that in 2009, Canada is still under the power, in any form, of an unelected figure?

    • Hello, have you heard of our Supreme Court justices or the judges in all our other courts? Perhaps you've heard of the Public service? None of them is elected. Do you want to go to the US system mired in graft, scandal, imcompetence, and gridlock? If so, look at the apathy among voters there. Or better yet move there for a time and experience directly the pros and cons of their system. Sure, our system of government may not be perfect either, but as Churchill said (to paraphrase) it's the best one anyone has devised so far. And it has taken centuries to develop, and no doubt will continue to do so as we see fit, and as needs be. Just don't play around unnecessarily with the parts that aren't broken is what I ask. Make judicious changes that make the existing system work better, when necessary.

  26. God Bless it that in this Country people like Andrew Coyne exist
    – a radical

    • Yes, a true radical in the sense that he get to the root of things (radix=root, Latin). Thumbs up for Andrew Coyne. He's right on the money, pun intended.

  27. So we simply declare that we still have a monarchy, with the same powers as now, except that the monarch and the Governor General are the same person and will henceforth be a Canadian citizen. Then we declare that the Canadian Monarch will henceforth be elected by the members of the Order of Canada rather than being chosen by accidents of birth (i.e. non-hereditary) or by the Prime Minister. Then we declare that our elected Monarch will henceforth only be able to hold the position for a maximum of 8 years.
    Then we will have a "Monarch" that reflects modern Canadian values rather than those of medival England.

    • An elected monarchy just isn't right. The strength of the institution is its stability, which comes largely from the hereditary aspect. Having the monarch be chosen by the Order of Canada would be a terrible idea, since no person could be chosen who would agreeable to all Canadians, and, frankly, some of the people in the Order of Canada (Henry Morgentaler, Celine Dion) are of questionable merit. What you are essentially proposing is that we make the Order of Canada into a Canadian House of Lords; giving it this much power would almost inevitably result in the kinds of "cash for honours" scandals seen in Britain. And, of course, basing the monarch's power in the nobility rather than the people is very much a value of medieval England.

  28. Constitutional Monarchy works! We have a history of peace and good government largely because we have a monarchy. The anti monarchists would like to place us in the situation of the republican system which depends on the flavour of the moment. Would you really prefer a Bush or a Sarah Palin to our present constiutional monarch? Think about the possibilities! Sure, we may not admire some of the Royals at hthe moment, but they don't interfere and who needs a system as convoluted and awkward as that in the U.S. which some people seem to hold up as the be all and end all.

    • "If we have peace and good government largely because of the monarchy." says Marg; it has nothing to do with the British Monarchy.Give credit to the Canadian people. We are the ones that pay taxes and worked hard to make our country what it is today. The Queen has spent 200 days in this country on an expensive $300million road show. She has never been on the job. You and I would have been fired long ago.

      The GG does ALL the work as head of state . Reform the office and give the job to a Canadian

      • I think, with all due respect, that what Marg was referring to was the government style that we have here in Canada, that is Constitutional Monarchy, which she perceives as being stable and less corrupted. If that's the case, I agree with her. Besides, why should we change our system, when it works just fine the way it is. It's not perfect, but surely it's better than many others.

  29. One thing that did disappoint me a little about Andrew Coyne's article was the concentration on the central Canadian strand of Canada's monarchical tradition. He starts our list of Sovereigns over Canada with François I king at the time of the first explorations of North America by the French. He leaves out John Cabot's exploration of North America in the reign of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. Despite what Americans say, Newfoundland, and not Virginia, was the oldest English colony in North America, and as such, we have had every English (then British) monarch since Henry VII as Sovereign of part of Canada. We have also had Spanish monarchs and Russian ones over other bits of what became Canada. We have never had a legitimate republican form of government here unles of course you take the view that what we have is already, in essence, a crowned republic, in which Parliament has decided who the Sovereign is (Look up the Act of Settlement if you don't follow).

    • I agree that we should be careful to focus only on Central Canada's monarchial tradition, but the truth is that "the Canadas" were traditionally what are now Ontario and Quebec, and Newfoundland, while having its own long and special history, ultimately joined a Confederation that was based out of central Canada, in the same way that one would not claim that America should count French monarchs among its past rulers because they once controlled Texas and Louisiana.

      I acknowledge that our constitutional monarchy is something of a "crowned republic"- especially since we chose to keep the monarchy at Confederation when the British were probably willing to let us go on our own, according to many Canadian historians. What this means is that the monarchy is a tradition that we chose to keep when our country became self-governing, so we should not feel at all that there is something "uncanadian" about it.

      • I totally agree with you in this regard.

  30. In a column entitled ;A tear , please, for Charles; by Allan Fotheringham; an English woman had this to say; "It is rediculous to be so exercised to make the Royal Family— and Prince Charles in particular—-more like real people."

    We are asking the single -most-ill-equiped family in the country to provide a model for us."A modern monarchy," she says quite accurately, "is an oxymoron , like a modern slave, or a modern witch doctor."

    Too bad the twitts(politicans) in Ottawa, don't have the courage to admit the same.

    The GG does all the work as head of state. Reform the office and make a Canadian as our head of State. We will never be a complete country until this happens.

  31. Really good post, being a Brit we don't always think about the other place our monarchs have an impact. You've clearly sparked debate too, and some great points are raised in the comments.

  32. Let's see if I can get this srraight. The Queen who is our Head of state(on paper only), lives in Britain and does NO WORK as head of State. The GG is not our Head of State , lives in Canada , and does ALL THE WORK as Head of State. Folks, just do away with this archic monarchy, and have a Canadian as Head of State.

    Andrew Coyne-The British Monarchy belongs in history books.

    • You are making a good point…to a point…we do need a Canadian Head of State, which should be a Canadian Monarch. There's nothing wrong in keeping an institution that is part of our history and defines as a country. Better yet, we should be proud of it. Becoming a republic all of the sudden would be so foreign to us as to think that the US or Mexico would turn into kingdoms, when it's clear that they never kept any ties with it and their very existences came to be as a complete rejection of their Monarchs during the colonial times. Rejection that never took place in Canada. Having a real Canadian Monarchy in our country would strengthen us as a complete independent nation, would give us unity and also would give us a more deep sense of history and tradition. I fail to see anything wrong with that.

  33. well done – on point and you obviously know your stuff!

  34. Coyne's portrayal is one sided at best. Of course he is entitled to that. However his piece hardly qualifies as balanced as he does not explore alternatives (to the monarchy). But then he may be ill informed, as he clearly -and erroneously – stated on the CBC news forum discussing the same topic on Nov. 12th that Germany appoints its President. Had he spent a little time on this topic he might have stumbled upon a reasonable alternative for Canada to employ. A President elected by an assembly of the MPs and representatives proportionally allotted and appointed by the Provinces . Coming to think of it, a body proportionally representative of and selected by the provinces sounds like a good replacement for the current Senate. Why stop with finding alternatives for the monarchy?

    • It was a slip. I'm aware that the German president is elected by the Federal Convention. My point was only that countries like Germany, Australia and Ireland choose people of extraordinary accomplishments and moral standing for their head of state. If we must have a Governor General, let us at least be serious about it.

  35. Why should Charles and Camilla , the son of our Head of State ,the Queen(on paper only), be allowed to tour Canada on a $5million visit, almost as if they were our Head of State? When we do away with this British monarchy that are the only ones that can be our Head of State , then we won't have to have taxpayers paid visits by their family ,and even at time ,the extended family.

  36. I am a fifth-generation Canadian who has lived in Britain for some years for family reasons. I am no fan at all of the monarchy, even in the UK, and many here are not, especially younger people.

    Canadians probably don't realize this, but most Britons don't know most words to God Save the Queen. The Union Jack (Note to pedants: I know it's a flag, really). is never flown on schools etc, pictures of Queenie are not in post offices etc. They also don't sing the anthem in state schools as far as I know, because my children certainly never did and we lived in a fairly traditional part of England. Any mention of singing an anthem in school is usually met with a withering "How very American".

    I think the Windsors will be in serious trouble when the Queen dies, because while a lot here view her as a symbol of permanence, Charles and his ilk do not inspire any enthusiasm. What puzzles me is this – Australia was vocal about republicanism, even had a referendum in 1999 that came close to passing. Why don't Canadians do something about this if there's so little interest in the monarchy, rather than just idly complaining?

    • Right on worldgirl! Discuss it with your friends. A poll was done a few years ago, and only 7% of Canadians even knew the British Queen was our head of state.Of course, if you haven't worked at the job for 56 years, then Canadians can't be fooled.

  37. Andrew, I am a big fan of your work and have never taken the time to comment on how remarkably pointive and thought-provoking your commentary usually is…and I guess that can be said of your "defending the royals" bit. My take on the royals of the current era is not favorable, to say the least. Diana's gravest error was in conceiving two male heirs to the throne…Harry being the back up unit. In a fairy tale version of this story, she would have been beheaded for her unforgiveable sins. Charles and Camila are nothing but a couple of heartless, selfish, cheaters and homewreckers. In the fairy tale version, they would be cast as the villains.

  38. This is the front page headline in The Canadian edition of International Express; CHARLES AMAZING REPUBLIC BLUNDER—–'Prince Charles has claimed that the Royal Family is past its sell-by-date and Australia should be made a republic." The comments were made to Harry miller , then Chairman of the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

    In his book, Charles said; that" Australia should be a republic and it was really bull**** to be kowtowing to the British Monarchy."

    Ihave said a number of times that the British WindsorFamily have a meeting and declare that when the Queen dies or before the they tell Australia, Canada , and New Zealand that we're out of here.Then maybe the twitts(politicians) will get the message.

    • There is a way to make both sides happy in this debate. A compromise: We ditch the monarchy AND do not become a republic. We keep the GG. Everything stays basically the same, except that the REAL AND LEGAL head of state becomes the GG. Unelected. No republic. I know, I know, I get it, most people will respond with *It's too hard*. To that I will relay a true story to you all:

      I was traveling abroad and I met an Irishman on my travels and we began talking about politics and culture and all the places we'd traveled to. Of course he knew Canada as a place of peace and stability, most people recognize this. However, when I mentioned that the Queen of England was Canada's head of state and that all new immigrants to Canada must swear an oath of allegiance to her, well, he actually laughed out loud. A good, hearty laugh, in my face.

      I can't blame him. Even an Englishman finds this laughable. It's only the elderly, the retirees, whom I respect, that love the monarchy. But look at the youngbloods coming up. C'mon people. The monarchy is dead. The Europeans now have a President of Europe. They did this so that in the new era, the 21st century, they can stand aside with the USA, China, Russia, Brazil, India, and any big state. The monarchy is finished. It's time Canadians grew up.

  39. Why not insist that the Queen sit in the Senate and read the Speech From The Trone herself if she wants to remain Queen of Canada.

    • Then we could kill two birds with one stone. The senate; unelected and undemocratic; and the British Monarchy; a foreign institution, and limited to one family; are two , archic bodies that were foisted on us by the British Fathers of Confederation; don't know what was Canadian about them.

    • Both the senate and the monarchy should be abolished. They are unelected and undemocratic, and in the case of the monarchy; a non-resident who lives in Britain. The monarchy has a sign that states that Catholics are not allowed to take the crown or to marry one.

  40. re the expense of monarchy — would the President of the Federal Republic of Canada come any cheaper?

    • The issue is not if it is cheaper, but that it will be Canadian. Why do Canadians not want a Canadian as our Head of State? We are only one of three major countries in the world that has a non-resident as head of state.Grow up Canada and take the final step.

  41. You state that Swend Robinson stated that" the Queen is not Canadian because she was born in the U.K." The point to make here is that Swend came to Canada from the U.S. ; became a Canadian citizen ,and worked, paid taxes and has lived here for many years.On the other hand the Queen, who is our head of state(on paper only), has spent 200days in this country in 56 years, at a cost of at least $300million to us.

    You also state that that the Liberal candidate at the meeting was Italian and Roman Catholic. You probably know that A Roman Catholic can never be head of state of Canada as long as the British Windsor Family are the only ones allowed to hold that position.(Act of Settlement,1701). Is not this against the law, or is the Windsor Family above the law.

    The majority of Canadians want a Canadian as head of state.The Monarchy belongs in history books.

  42. God save the Queen

    • Here is an interesting story: I was traveling years ago and I met an Irishman. We talked about travels and the many places we'd seen. When I told him I was from Canada I got a favorable response. No surprise there, Canada is known as a peaceful and stable country. However, when I told him the Queen was our head of state and that newcomers must swear an oath of allegiance to her, he couldn't believe it. He laughed loud and long. I can't blame him. When will Canadians realize this is an embarrassment? We don't need to become a republic. We can keep the GG. But for God's sake, we really need to ditch the bitch.

      • Ditching the Queen IS becoming a republic. Why does everyone here hate the word “republic”? Being a republic with a head of state elected by the people is much better than having a heriditary monarchy who’s only claim to fame was who her father was.

  43. I like the idea of the Queen actually appointing a representative and one of the princes sounds like a great idea but why would they suddenly have to become King of Canada. Wouldn't King of Canada imply separation from the English throne? Couldn't the role be simply an appointment by the British monarchy?

    All this talk about separation really dilutes one of the great Canadian strengths, we are a global country. Our assistance to other countries builds us good will. Our involvement in the commonwealth is an assist, often underused (but that's another debate).

    People talk about a monarchy as a bad thing but it's the checks and balances of our system. It's the method which we make sure that things don't get bad that one person doesn't have total control. This is a great article and I hope more people will take up this banner. A pro monarchy side that goes beyond just cause is great.

  44. The checks and balances in our system was provided by the GG when the crisis happened in Jan, 2009. Do you think the Queen and the British Monarchy had any thing to do with it ? Of course not , she was out of sight in one of her Castles in Britain.Tranfer the paper work legally to the GG, who does ALL THE WORK NOW.

  45. Isn't Coyne a Welsh name???


  46. A POPULAR BI-NATIONAL MONARCHY IN CANADA, THE BELGIAN MODEL PART I? I tend to agree with Mr. Coyne on his views about the Monarchy. But I recognize that for many, despite efforts to the contrary, it is also an issue of just not being able to relate to the cultural content of the symbol. The stats for support of the Monarchy are lowest in Quebec. Sadly, I think it will be time when Our Queen is no longer on the Throne to think creatively about the instituion in Canada which will satisfy tradition and the aspirations of its many people for greater specificity.

    In this context it would be too bad to forget Andrew's suggestion about a born in Canada Monarchy. Ideally, we would have our own non-elected hereditary Family of Monarchs.

  47. A POPULAR BI-NATIONAL MONARCHY IN CANADA, THE BELGIAN MODEL PART II: A suggestion would be to do like the Belgians did and to choose a British Royal and have him marry a High Ranking French noble women as Queen. Their children should have to be bilingual and they should have mixed French/English names. They should live in Canada and go to school in Canada. The Monarchy should also be a popular one, i.e., the King of the Canadians not of Canada to reflect that he rules at the pleasure of the people not as the ruler over a land.

  48. A POPULAR BI-NATIONAL MONARCHY IN CANADA, THE BELGIAN MODEL PART III: Our symbolism and institutions could also be changed to reflect this dual heritage, for example, the Union Jack is still and official flag, ok fine, make the French Royal Standard an official flag as well. God Save our Queen is still an official anthem, make a French Royal anthem official as well. Look at the old French parliamentary traditions during the period of New France and integrate any traditions possible.

    This popular bi-national Monarchy should be ratified through referendum to involve the people in the decision. All of this is inspired by the Belgian model. Though this was done by a political elites during a revolution in the case of Belgium and not by referendum but there is no reason that I could think of why this could not be done peaceably here in Canada.

  49. The wrong bloodline rules by Mason rights… God's Will, will prevail!
    A Catholic Will Rule and the guillotine will make a comeback for the occasion, protestant Heretics and Huguenots beware!!!

  50. I also think every country nowadays needs monarchy for them to progress.

  51. I'm currently organizing an assassination on the queen, if you want in, message me at God save the queen ;p

  52. The monarchist position expressed here is hard to believe. It is absurd to say it is not possible to change our constitution to get our own made in Canada head of state. Nor do we need to be told that the monarchy is so deeply entrenched in our traditions and laws that it is impossible to extricate it. Difficult yes. Impossible no. Desirable, most certainly.

    It is a national embarrassment that our head of state is not a Canadian. Our leaders are cowards for not addressing this issue. At least Andrew has taken up the debate and advanced a suggestion – even if he got a bit carried away in his monarchist fervour.

    One of the big problems here is the "two founding peoples" myth. I find it incredible that we continue to think of Canada as having "two founding peoples" and that this should somehow be reflected in our institutions, culture and constitution. Before there were British and French there were aboriginal going back hundreds of years. Why don't we try a bit harder to see them as our founding people and source of our unique Canadian cultural and political point of view.

    Our First Nations are generally left out of this debate except to say they have historic links to the British Crown that would make it difficult to alter the Crown's role in our political life. But the First Nations have an even deeper link to their own traditions. It is those traditions all Canadians should honour by recognizing our First Nations for what they are. Not the "conquered" poverty stricken outcasts we have made them, but the "first founding people" of our nation.

    That is where our monarchists should look for an alternative to their beloved British imperial rulers. Not to some remnant of our colonial past like a "new wing of the dynasty" started by another British royal. I am amazed that Andrew Coyne would even suggest such a thing.

  53. I 100% agree with Mr. Coyne – we need our own Monarch here to embody Canadian's hopes, dreams & values & represent us abroad. It is the GG that is a colonial relic and should be done away with when HM dies. God Save The Queen of Canada!

  54. PLEASE! Let's petition our government to change the succession laws to allow this to take place ASAP! Thank God someone is finally saying what I have been saying for decades to deaf hears all around this country. I tried to start a political party back in college with this as my primary goal. It was called the SAVANT party because it was the same in both official languages. I also thought it was somewhat reflective of our nation and it's unrecognized potential in the world.

    I don't understand why so many people have such an aversion to royalty. I assume it is based on a misconception that royalty is all about wealth and privilege. How is this family any different from all those families that basically run the world but are not available for public scrutiny? For heaven's sake, what percentage of the public participates in the democratic process anyway. It's the rich and powerful who benefit most from any system. The great republic to the south continues to elect leaders from the same collection of families the vast majority of the time. Many of those families have ancestors who where the younger sons of British aristocrats who wanted to keep wealth and power to themselves rather than support the empire. Many of the ancestors of those families treated their workers like serfs for decades and are sometimes called robber barons for a reason. Some, like the Kennedys where bootleggers. Wheren't the Bronfman's bootleggers too?

    I would much rather have a royal family who where right up front in the spotlight, their role constitutionally mandated. In a constitutional monarchy royals are servants of the people not robbers of the people.

  55. Canada has become an independent nation incrementally.

    The logical, final step to achieving complete independence is to finally have our own Head of State. The easiest way and the way most consistent with our history is for us to enact a change in the succession law for Canada. This would be much easier than changing the constitution to a republican form of government. It would also allow Canadians to take full advantage of the Constitutional Monarchy form of government we already have. Not having a unique and resident Monarch has prevented Canadians from benefiting from a focal point of national unity, a check and balance on the powers of the Prime Minister, experienced, confidential and non-partisan council for new governments, trade & diplomatic ambassadors and the pomp associated with monarchy that attracts tourists and world media to our capital.

    The children of Diana are also descended from the former French Kings of Canada. I recommend Prince Harry of Wales be crowned King Henry IV of Canada, taking into account the French kings from Francis I who founded Acadia in 1534.

  56. Monarchy is counter-democratic. Read: it comes from the Greek “monos” (alone) and “archein” (rule). Ergo, the origin of the phrase “one-man rule” (though the validity of the point is in no way watered down by the fact that it is now actually possible to have a queen as head of state).

    Monarchy is also pretentious. The idea that EVERYONE should have to slave their behinds off, with the exception of a select family, defies all fair and balanced notions of decency, honesty, equality and liberty. It’s too bad the Americans distinguish between Democrats and Republicans when we recognize them as being the same thing here.

    Mr. Coyne, you have no respect whatsoever for the people who have to work for their dime. The best thing I can say about this drivel is that you can’t be a true man of the people.