A guide to Canada’s Royal Family & Queen Elizabeth II


Canadian Queen Elizabeth II statue in Ottawa

A statue of Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa, Canada

In September of 2022, the world was brought to a halt by the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen was the longest reigning British monarch in history and the world’s second longest reigning monarch of all time. Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t only the queen of the United Kingdom, however, as she was also the Queen of Canada. Canada has long royal roots and in this guide, we are going to look at connections between Canada and the Royal Family, highlighting interesting facts and important information to know. Read on to learn all about Canada’s Royal Family.

What was Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with Canada?

Queen Elizabeth II on Canadian moneyQueen Elizabeth II on a 1954 Canadian banknote

Queen Elizabeth II was the Queen of Canada, reigning as the country’s monarch for over 70 years and performed her function as Canada’s sovereign while working with the country’s various prime ministers and governor generals.

The Queen, as monarch, is regarded as the underlying principle of Canada’s institutional unity and a guardian of constitutional freedoms. Part of the job of Canada’s monarch is to ensure that the political process remains intact and is allowed to function.

When did Queen Elizabeth II become Queen of Canada?

Queen Elizabeth II became the Queen of Canada on the 6th of February 1952, after the death of her father George VI. She reigned as queen until her death on the 8th of September 2022.

Is Canada a monarchy?

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, like the UK, but it is also a parliamentary democracy, again in a similar fashion to the United Kingdom. Canada has a prime minister, who serves at the pleasure of the monarch and does not have a term limit.

As Canada’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II had many functions, such as appointing a prime minister and being Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, though she didn’t play an active role in the country’s politics. While in a strict sense of constitutional monarchy, the monarch embodies the state rather than acts as its head, the Queen (and now King Charles III), is regarded officially as head of state.

Does Canada have the Queen on their money?

As the sovereign is the personal expression of the Crown in Canada, Queen Elizabeth II appears on Canada’s money. Queen Elizabeth II, for example, appears on the Canadian 20-dollar note and the reigning monarch always appears on all of Canada’s coins.

The Queen’s final message to Canadians

Queen Elizabeth II’s last public message to Canadians before her death was sent on the 7th of September in the aftermath of the 2022 Saskatchewan stabbings. She expressed that “I mourn with all Canadians at this tragic time”.

Is Canada part of the UK?

While Canada does share a monarch and head of state with the UK, and other countries like Australia and New Zealand, Canada is not part of the UK, it is its own independent country, located in North America.

Canadians received a separate legal nationality from Britain thanks to the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946 and the final constitutional ties with the UK ended in 1982.

The sovereign of Canada is shared with 14 other independent nations; however, Canada’s monarch is separate and legally distinct. Hence, the current monarch is known as the King of Canada, and Queen Elizabeth II was known as the Queen of Canada.

READ ALSO: Canada vs the UK: which country suits you? 

What is the history of the monarchy in Canada?

Royal cypher of Queen Elizabeth IIRoyal cypher of Queen Elizabeth II

The history of Canada’s monarchy goes back centuries, comprising numerous kings and queens, developments, and changes.

Canada’s status as a monarchy began under French King Francis I in 1534, although England had made an earlier claim under King Henry VII in 1497. Though through both of these lineages, the Canadian monarchy can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times.

The kings and queens of Canada have included monarchs of both France and the United Kingdom and those of Canada itself in the modern period.

The official Royal Family website explains that: “Canada has been a monarchy for centuries – first under the kings of France in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, then under the British Crown in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and now as a kingdom in her own right.”

After France cedes its Canadian colonies to Britain hundreds of years ago, Canada eventually became a kingdom in its own right under Queen Victoria in 1867.

In 1931, the country became a uniquely Canadian monarchy and in 1939, George VI became the first reigning monarch of Canada to tour the country.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952 and went on to reign as Queen of Canada for over 70 years.

Who is the head of state in Canada?

The current Canadian head of state is King Charles III, who ascended to the throne of Canada upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Charles III and his wife Camilla the Queen Consort are the current King and Queen of Canada. King Charles III began his reign as King of Canada as soon as his mother passed away but was officially proclaimed as king at Rideau Hall in Ottawa after the meeting of the King’s Privy Council for Canada.

READ ALSO: 48 hours in Ottawa

Royal tours of Canada by the Queen and Royal family

How many times has the Queen visited Canada?

Queen Elizabeth II conducted 23 royal tours of Canada during her time as Queen of Canada, though she first toured Canada as Princess Elizabeth in 1951.

Queen Elizabeth’s last royal tour of Canada was in 2010 when she visited Ontario and Manitoba, which included visits to Ottawa and its Canadian Museum of Nature, as well as the Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill with Prince Phillip. This particular tour also included trips to Toronto and Waterloo.

Other members of the Royal Family have visited Canada many times, with visits taking place since 1786. Living members of the Royal Family to make official visits to Canada include King Charles III, Princess Alexandra, Princess Anne, as well as William and Catherine (the Prince and Princess of Wales).

As well as official visits, members of the Royal Family have made lots of unofficial trips to Canada over the years. For example, Prince Harry has been on various working tours of Canada with the military, as well as informal visits to Canada as part of the Invictus Games. Further still, Harry and his wife Meghan spent their honeymoon in Canada.

READ ALSO: How to honeymoon like a Royal

Royal duties of the Royal Family in Canada

The official duties of Canada’s monarch, besides appointing a prime minister and cabinet, include things like representing Canada at home and abroad, and royal family members also participate in various government ceremonies at the request of the Canadian Cabinet.

There are also unofficial duties that are performed by royal family members, usually involving organisations and charities that the family member is a patron of.

Are there Royal Residences in Canada?

Rideau Hall in OttawaRideau Hall in Ottawa, a royal residence of the Canadian monarch

When we think of the Royal Family, palaces and official residences like Buckingham Palace come quickly to mind but does Canada have any royal residences? Canada is home to a collection of wonderful buildings called Government Houses, which are royal residences for Canada’s monarch and viceroys like the Governor General – the representative of the Canadian monarch in Canada.

The monarch has two official royal residences in Canada, Rideau Hall and the Citadelle of Québec. Rideau Hall in Ottawa is the principal residence of the King of Canada as well as the Governor General. Located on an 88-acre estate in Canada’s capital city, the main building boasts 175 rooms and 27 outbuildings.

Rideau Hall is open to the public, having been designated a National Historic Site. On the free guided tours, visitors can look forward to exploring the house’s elegant staterooms, looking at the beautiful collection of Canadian furniture and art, and discovering the gardens. There is even a statue of Queen Elizabeth II which visitors can see on their tour.

Rideau Hall and Ottawa’s historic seat of government, Parliament Hill, are two important stops on any visit to the city. Those seeking to explore Canada’s royal roots can easily take in the sights by booking flights to Canada and going on tailor-made Canada holidays.

READ ALSO: Free things to do in Ottawa

How many Canadian Prime Ministers have there been during the Queen’s reign?

There have been 13 different prime ministers in Canada during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (12 who she appointed). The first was Louis St. Laurent who was the current prime minister when Elizabeth became queen in 1952. The last prime minister of the Queen’s reign is the current incumbent Justin Trudeau. The Queen’s time as Canada’s monarch saw the country’s first and only female prime minister in 1993, Kim Campbell.

The Prime Minister of Canada has two official residences; one is Ottawa’s 24 Sussex Drive and the other is Harrington Lake, a country retreat in the beautiful tourist attraction known as Gatineau Park.

READ ALSO: Eat like a local in Ottawa

What things are named after the Queen in Canada?

Statue of Queen Elizabeth II in OttawaStatue of Queen Elizabeth II on the grounds of Parliament Hill in Ottawa

As you might imagine, there are a number of things named after Queen Elizabeth II in Canada. This includes many geographic locations, such as Alberta’s Queen Elizabeth Provincial Park and the Queen Elizabeth Mountain Ranges. Other locations include the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Canada’s Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

There are also many different structures in Canada named after the Queen, including everything from theatres and hotels to hospitals, roads and schools.

Queen Elizabeth II statues in Canada

There are three different official monuments in Canada dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II. Visitors to Ottawa can see the wonderful equestrian monument on Parliament Hill after a tour of Rideau Hall.

There is also a statue of Queen Elizabeth II at the Government House in Winnipeg and, in Saskatchewan, there is a statue of the Queen on her horse in front of the legislative building.

What is the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples of Canada?

Canada’s indigenous population has a crucial place at the heart of the country’s culture and there are many ways to learn more about them via trips to the likes of Manitoulin Island, as well as various museums, pow wows, and walks in different locations across the country.

But what is the relationship like between the Crown and Canada’s indigenous peoples? There is an important association between the Canadian Crown and Indigenous peoples in Canada that goes back centuries to when treaties were established between the monarch and the indigenous nations.

Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples share a unique and important relationship with the reigning Canadian monarch, viewed by these peoples as a relationship between them and the continuous Crown of Canada rather than Canada’s cabinet of ministers.

The treaties between the Crown and Canada’s indigenous peoples are administered by Canadian Aboriginal law and seen by Indigenous peoples as legal contracts and promises by successive kings and queens to protect the welfare of Indigenous peoples.

READ ALSO: Insight into Canada’s First Nations

How has Canada mourned Queen Elizabeth II?

It’s not just the UK that entered into mourning upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II, as commonwealth realms like Canada where the Queen was head of state have also grieved at the loss of this historic figure.

For example, after the Queen’s death became public knowledge, residents of Ottawa took to the streets to lay flowers and perform other gestures of mourning. The Peace Tower of Parliament Hill, one of the city’s most iconic attractions, was bathed in royal blue light and had the Royal Cypher of Queen Elizabeth II projected onto it.

Residents have also waited in line to sign a book of condolence for the Queen at Rideau Hall (her official royal residence in the capital), flowers and candles were left outside the British High Commission, as well as at the Queen’s statue at Rideau Hall.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau made an official statement in response to the news that Canada’s queen had passed away. He has also expressed his own personal thoughts on the news, saying of the Queen: “She was one of my favourite people in the world and I will miss her so.”

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Image credits: Cheryne

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