Canadian royal symbols

Canadian royal symbols

A number of royal symbols exist in Canada, reflecting the country's status as a constitutional monarchy. These include symbols of the monarch of Canada, as well as the monarch's vice-regal representatives.

Despite the removal or replacement of certain monarchical symbols as national symbols through the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the fact that the Canada's Royal Family is not resident in Canada itself, the Crown remains a visible part of the everyday lives of Canadians. A number of symbols of the monarchy are based on British heraldry, such as the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada, though these have been adapted with purely Canadian symbols, and what were formerly purely British symbols have become symbols of the monarch, or loyalty thereto. Use of the royal Crown is granted by Royal Proclamation, and through royal patronage, certain organizations may also have or use royal symbols. Many organizations in Canada that have been granted a "royal" prefix often incorporate royal symbols into their imagery. As regards heraldry in Canada, the Canadian Heraldic Authority was created in 1988.

Canada's royal heritage and present monarchical status is also reflected in the names of geographic locations or settlements, as well as in traditions.

Images of the sovereign

The main symbol of the monarchy is the sovereign herself; described as "the personal expression of the Crown in Canada." [MacKinnon, Frank; "The Crown in Canada"; Glenbow-Alberta Institute; 1976; p. 69] Thus, images of the sovereign appear either as an official symbol of the Crown's authority, or as a locus of loyalty.

Coinage and postage

The reigning monarch's image is traditionally printed on Canadian coins, some currency and postage stamps such as the Queen Elizabeth II definitive stamp. Coins bear an effity of the monarch as the function of currency to serve as a readily accepted medium of exchange rests on the state being a guarantor of the money's value, and the sovereign is the personal representation of the state itself; current Canadian coins carry an effigy of the Queen, by Susannah Blunt. [ [ Royal Canadian Mint] ] Canada has depicted its sovereigns on stamps since 1851. Since 1939, the image of Elizabeth II has appeared on 59 stamps issued in Canada, most of them definitives. [ [ Library and Archives Canada: Canadian Postal Archives Database] ] [ [ Library and Archives Canada: Canadian Postal Archives Database] ]


Though images of sovereigns of Canada's territories have been present in the country since it was first settled by Europeans, only in the past century has Canada's royals been portrayed by Canadian artists.

Elizabeth II has been photographed by many of Canada's prominent photographers; the first formal picture being by Canadian Josef Karsh, who took a portrait of Princess Elizabeth when she was 17. Just before she became Queen, Karsh also took a series of official pictures of the Princess in formal and informal poses. For her 1959 royal tour, the Queen asked to have a Canadian photographer take the pre-tour pictures, and Donald McKeague of Toronto was chosen. In 1967 Karsh was again commissioned to take a series of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for the Centenary of Canadian Confederation, resulting in a number of regal pictures taken at Buckingham Palace. Cavouk of Toronto took the next official photograph of the Queen of Canada in 1973; his picture is sometimes called "the citizen Queen" because of its informality. Rideau Hall photographer John Evans captured the sovereign during her Silver Jubilee stay in Ottawa in 1977, showing her following her return from opening Parliament, and wearing the Order of the Garter and the Order of Canada on a dress with gold fringes suggestive of an aboriginal princess. Karsh was once again entrusted with the task of photographing his Queen in 1984, creating a series that included a shot of Her Majesty with her corgi, Shadow. The most recent official Canadian picture of the monarch was taken during her Golden Jubilee tour in October, 2002.

The Queen has also been the subject of many Canadian artists, including Hilton Hassell's painting of Princess Elizabeth square dancing at Rideau Hall, and Jean-Paul Lemieux's "affectionate memory images" (1979), showing the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with the Parliament Buildings in the background, combining the familiar and constitutional. "The Queen on a Moose" by Charles Pachter has become a Canadian cultural image. Jack Harmon, of British Columbia, created the 1992 equestrian statue of Queen Elizabeth that stands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and sculptor Susan Velder fashioned another equestrian statue of the Sovereign unveiled on the grounds of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in June, 2003.

Portraits of the monarch are often found in government buildings, military installations, many schools, as well as Canada's high commissions and embassies abroad. [ [ The Canadian Royal Heritage Trust: Queen Elizabeth II] ]


The Queen's Personal Canadian Flag is the symbol of the Canadian monarch, and takes precedence over all other Canadian flags, including the national flag. Second in precedence is the personal flag of the Governor General, followed by the Lieutenant Governors' flags.

The Royal Union Flag remains an official flag in Canada, to symbolise Canada's loyalty to the Crown, though a distinctly Canadian flag was adopted in 1964 as the National Flag.

Verbal and musical symbols

"God Save the Queen" is the Royal Anthem, and forms part of the Canadian Royal Salute, which is performed by playing the Royal Anthem followed by the National Anthem, "O Canada." The Vice Regal Salute also includes the first six bars of "God Save the Queen," which then modulate into the first four and last four bars of "O Canada." The relevant Vice-Regal Salutes are played only for the Governor General and each Lieutenant Governor, as they represent Canada's monarch. [ [ Department of National Defence: The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces; pg. 404] ]

A Loyal Toast is also performed at official functions whether or not the sovereign is personally present; it consists of a toast to the health of Her Majesty the Queen, and is usually performed by the host or guest of honour at the ceremony, aside from the Queen herself. In English the toast is: "Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen of Canada," and in French: "Mesdames et Messieurs, à la Reine du Canada"." In the mess of regiments where the Queen holds an honorary appointment, the toast is: "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Queen of Canada, our Captain-General," and in French: "Mesdames et Messieurs, à la Reine du Canada, notre capitaine générale"." Where a band is present, "God Save the Queen" is to be played following the proposal of the toast. [ [ Department of National Defence: The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces; pg. 449-450] ]

The Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Citizenship both refer to the monarch as the locus of fealty. Swearing allegaince to the Queen has been described as the expression of "a solemn intention to adhere to the sybolic keystone of the Canadian Constitution as it has been and is, thus pledging an acceptance of the whole of our Constitution and national life." [ [ T-1809-06 IN THE MATTER OF ARALT MAC GIOLLA CHAINNIGH v. THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF CANADA; January 21, 2008] ]

Calendar dates

In Canada, Victoria Day has become the holiday for celebrating Canada's monarchy. Traditionally the monarch's birthday — in the case of Queen Elizabeth II, April 21 — is the day for honouring the reigning monarch. Since 1953, however, the official birthday of Canada's monarch has been Victoria Day. Originally the holiday was set by vice-regal proclamation on the first Monday before May 24 of every year, but in 1957 the date of the national holiday was permanently fixed by statute. [ [ Heritage Canada: Victoria Day] ]

Each year, since 1932, the sovereign has delivered the Royal Christmas Message to the Commonwealth of Nations; originally broadcast on the BBC Empire Service, in Canada it is today delivered on CBC television and radio.

Honours and decorations

Images of St. Edward's, the Tudor, and King's Crown are visible on police forces badges (see , on various medals, and awards.

These latter cases reflect the monarch's place as the ceremonial head of the Canadian honours system, termed the "fount of honour". As such, only she can approve the creation of an honour, which she does as requested by government of Canada. Although, the Governor General administers most responsibilities relating to Canadian honours on the Queen's behalf. The most recent example of this is the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal, which was approved by the Queen in December, 2004, [ [ Governor General announces the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal] ] and first presented by Governor General Michaëlle Jean in May, 2006. [ [ Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean Speech on the Occasion of the Inaugural Presentation of the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal] ]

Geographic names

There are also hundreds of places named for Canadian monarchs and members of the Royal Family all across Canada. No individual has been more honoured than Queen Victoria in the names of Canada's public buildings, streets, populated places and physical features. The trend for naming places after the sovereign began after the Queen granted John Ross permission to name a small bay in the Northwest Passage after her. Following this, explorers and mapmakers gave the name Victoria to a multitude of geographical features all over the Canadian map; her name appears more than 300 times. Also, amongst the 280 postal divisions in Canada, more than half have at least one thoroughfare identified by the name Victoria. [ [ "The Canadian Encyclopedia":Victoria] ]

ee also

* National symbols of Canada
* List of Canadian organizations with royal patronage
* List of Canadian provincial and territorial symbols
* Canadian honours system
* Symbols of monarchy in British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | Newfoundland and Labrador

External links

* Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols on the [ Department of Canadian Heritage website]


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