Wednesday, September 21, 2022

History of the Monarchy: It's okay to talk about it again UPDATED

The mourning period is over, and my essay on Canadians and the monarchy after Elizabeth II is now up at Canada's History's website

The reign of Elizabeth as Queen of Canada has been transformed instantly into the reign of Charles, the new king of Canada.

Yet Canadians can have a say, though not at this moment, when one monarch succeeds another. We form a sovereign nation. We have run our own affairs for a long time. We are also a democratic nation. In Treaty partnership with First Nations, our governments are accountable to the people of Canada. Canada has remained a monarchy because Canada has chosen to have it so. If Canadians wish to review that, or prefer to keep things as they are, the choice lies with us. If Canadians wish to have a Canadian head of state, we need only say so.

Update, September 23:  Trying to follow trends in the post-Elizabethan discussion of monarchy's future, I was struck by an op-ed by one Andrew Phillips in the Toronto Star.

It starts with bluster -- abolition is "an idea that is at once wrong-headed, historically ill-informed and constitutionally impossible" [not, not, and not -- see above] But then it gives us a sense of monarchists reading the room and thinking of cutting monarchy's losses in an attempt to preserve what they can. First, he wants to take the king off the money. And:

Second, let’s rewrite the oath that new Canadians must swear to qualify for citizenship. Right now, they must pledge to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles the Third, King of Canada, His Heirs and Successors …” and so on. It’s like something out of “Game of Thrones.”

To allow new citizens to pledge their loyalty first and foremost to Canada itself, Parliament can change the oath any time it wants — without altering anything essential about the role of the monarchy in this country.

We should look to the example of Australia, another of King Charles’s realms [!], which in 1994 dropped the oath to the queen and replaced it with an eloquent “Pledge of Commitment”....

Sure. Indeed, by continuing the processes by which the monarchy has lost any real presence in Canadian life and government, could be a useful babystep! 

Update, September 25:  Is this deal-cutting on the monarchy becoming a trend? I see Conrad Black in the National Post is suggesting Canada can have a "president" -- but also preserve the monarchy too. I like the hint of desperation about these offers. (Fortunately, most of the story is paywalled, so I don't have to read the whole thing.) 

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