Canada Mourns Passing of Queen Elizabeth II;
Charles III Proclaimed New Monarch
Queen Elizabeth I, Canada’s head of state, passed away last Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96.
The Queen had served as monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries since her ascension in 1952. Earlier this year, she celebrated 70 year on the throne with a Platinum Jubilee, and in June she secured her place as the second-longest reigning sovereign in world history. As queen, Elizabeth met with 12 Canadian prime ministers and 13 U.S. presidents. Her reign also oversaw major changes for Britain, most notably the dismantling of its once-extensive colonial empire.
The Canadian government will observe an official ten-day mourning period to honor the Sovereign’s passing. In an official statement, Prime Minister Trudeau noted that few Canadians now remember a time before the late Queen, who had been a consistent fixture for the nation over the last seven decades. “Over the course of 70 years and twenty-three Royal Tours, Queen Elizabeth II saw this country from coast to coast to coast and was there for our major, historical milestones.”
Elizabeth indeed oversaw major changes in Canada. Over the course of her reign, the country firmly established an identity independent from the United Kingdom. This culminated in the 1982 Constitution Act, when the British parliament relinquished its remaining oversight of Canada. Her reign also saw many internal challenges in Canada, such as the rise of Quebec’s independence movement and multiple reckonings with Canada’s past treatment of its Indigenous peoples.
The Queen will be succeeded by her eldest son, the new King Charles III, who was officially proclaimed monarch of Canada on Saturday in a ceremony attended by PM Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon. The new king means many small changes for Canada in the coming months, from replacing the word “Queen” to changing portraits and coins.
But for many, the death of a figure as well-known and widely-beloved as the late Queen marks the end of an era, and has people asking whether her passing portends greater changes for Canada’s monarchy. As Canada has achieved greater independence over the last century, its ties with the United Kingdom have progressively weakened, and opponents of the monarchy have increasingly raised calls for Canada to sever its remaining ties with the British Crown. Some feel that the monarchy is anachronistic and anti-democratic, and out of line with modern Canadian values; for others, such as Quebec nationalists and some immigrants from other former British colonies, the monarchy symbolizes colonial subjugation. While the monarchy is unlikely to change any time soon, it remains to be seen if Charles can replicate his mother’s success in cultivating a personal popularity that counters these headwinds.