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formal mode

Title and style of the Canadian monarch

The title and style of the Canadian sovereign is the formal mode of address of the monarch of Canada. Both have varied over the years, changing with Canada's gradual independence from the United Kingdom, the present style dating from the early 17th century and the title established in 1953.

Title of the monarch

The title of the Canadian monarch, presently Elizabeth II, is as follows:

  • In English: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
  • In French: Elizabeth Deux, par la grâce de Dieu Reine du Royaume-Uni, du Canada et de ses autres royaumes et territoires, Chef du Commonwealth, Défenseur de la Foi.

The title mentions Canada separately in order to highlight the monarch's role as Queen of Canada as distinct from that of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, as well as the shared aspect of the Crown throughout those same realms; with emphasis: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. This format was consistent with that of the monarch's titles in the other realms, though, as of 2008, only Canada and Grenada retain this form; all others, besides the UK, have dropped the reference to the United Kingdom.

Elizabeth II refers to herself as Queen of Canada when in, or acting abroad on behalf of, Canada. For example, she stated in 1973: "But it is as Queen of Canada that I am here, Queen of Canada and of all Canadians, not just of one or two ancestral strains." Since the 1950s, the federal government has promoted the title Queen of Canada, illustrating the separation between Elizabeth II's positions as monarch of Canada and as monarch of the United Kingdom; Prime Minister John Diefenbaker said of the style: "The Queen of Canada is a term which we like to use because it utterly represents her role on this occasion. The title is also included in the Oath of Allegiance, which forms a part of the Oath of Citizenship.

Although the Queen's Canadian title includes the phrase Defender of the Faith/Défenseur de la Foi, neither the Queen, nor any of the viceroys, has any religious role in Canada; there have been no established churches in the country since before Confederation. This is one of the key differences from the Queen's role in the United Kingdom, where she is Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent expanded on this topic in his 1953 speech to the House of Commons during debate on the Royal Style and Titles Act: "The rather more delicate question arose about the retention of the words defender of the faith. In England there is an established church. In our countries [the other monarchies of the Commonwealth] there are no established churches, but in our countries there are people who have faith in the direction of human affairs by an all-wise Providence; and we felt that it was a good thing that the civil authorities would proclaim that their organisation is such that it is a defence of the continued beliefs in a supreme power that orders the affairs of mere men, and that there could be no reasonable objection from anyone who believed in the Supreme Being in having the sovereign, the head of the civil authority, described as a believer in and a defender of the faith in a supreme ruler."

Also, while the sovereign holds the nominal title Head of the Commonwealth, this does not imply any political power over member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. In keeping, however, with the declaration of the prime ministers of the Commonwealth in London in 1949 of "the King as the symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth," the title will pass to the next monarch upon the demise of the Crown.

History

The current form of the title was the result of occasional discussion and an eventual meeting of Commonwealth representatives in London in December of 1952. Prior to this, the title had simply been the same as that in the United Kingdom and, earlier, France; though, after the 1931 Statute of Westminster severed legislative ties between Canada and the United Kingdom, the Canadian parliament had to pass its own Royal Style and Titles Act in 1947 to remove the term Emperor of India from the King's title in Canada, which became effective, by Order-in-Council, on June 22, 1948.

In the discussions amongst the Commonwealth prime ministers in 1952, Canada's then Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent, stated that it was important the new title format agreed on by all the realms "emphasize the fact that the Queen is Queen of Canada, regardless of her sovereignty over other Commonwealth countries." Canada's preferred format for the monarch's title was: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Canada and of Her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, similar to the format the government had suggested as early as 1949: George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Canada and the other nations of the British Commonwealth, King. However, Australia wished to have the United Kingdom mentioned as well; thus, the resolution was a title that included the United Kingdom but, for the first time, also mentioned Canada, and the other Commonwealth realms, separately.

When the House of Commons debated the Queen's title in 1953, St. Laurent asserted on the nature of the separate and shared characteristics of the Crown: "Her Majesty is now Queen of Canada but she is the Queen of Canada because she is Queen of the United Kingdom... It is not a separate office." After this, the Canadian parliament passed a new Royal Style and Titles Act, which was granted Royal Assent and proclaimed by Governor General Vincent Massey on May 29, 1953. A subsequent Royal Style and Titles Act was passed in 1985, though it did not alter the Queen's title in any way.

Chronology of titles

From the time of the first settlement of Europeans in the territories that today comprise Canada, the monarchs who reigned over the colonies and later the country have used various titles and styles. Starting with the landing of John Cabot on either Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island, the titles have evolved as follows:
British monarchs French monarchs
Period Title Used by Period Title Used by
1497–1521 By the Grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland Henry VII
Henry VIII
1521–1535 By the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith and Lord of Ireland Henry VIII 1524-1559 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent Francis I
Henry II
1535–1536 By the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, Lord of Ireland and of the Church of England in Earth, under Jesus Christ, Supreme Head Henry VIII
1536–1542 By the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, Lord of Ireland and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth, under Jesus Christ, Supreme Head Henry VIII
1542–1555 By the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth, under Jesus Christ, Supreme Head Henry VIII
Edward VI
Lady Jane Grey
Mary I
1555–1558 By the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. Mary I
1554–1556 By the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Princes of Spain and Sicily, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol Mary I and Philip
1556–1558 By the Grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, Jerusalem, both the Sicilies and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol Mary I and Philip
1558–1603 By the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. Elizabeth I 1559-1560 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Scotland; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Francis II
1560-1589 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Charles IX
Henry III
1589-1607 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre, co-Prince of Andorra, Duke of Albret, Beaumont and Vendôme, Count of Foix, Armagnac, Comminges, Bigorre and Marle, Lord of Béarn, and Donezan; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Henry IV
1603–1689 By the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II 1607-1620 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre, co-Prince of Andorra, Lord of Béarn, and Donezan; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Henry IV
Louis XIII
1650–1653 Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the armies and forces raised and to be raised within the Commonwealth of England Oliver Cromwell 1620-1641 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Louis XIII
1641-1652 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre; Count of Barcelona, Rousillon and Cerdagne; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Louis XIII
Louis XIV
1653–1659 By the Grace of God and of the Republic, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, et cetera, and the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell 1652-1763 By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois Louis XIV
Louis XV
1689 By the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, etc. William III and Mary II
1689–1694 By the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, etc. William III and Mary II
1694–1707 By the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. William III
Anne
1707–1714 By the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. Anne
1714–1801 By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Prince-Elector of Hannover, Duke of Brunswick George I, George II
George III
1801–1837 By the Grace of God, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, King of Hannover, Duke of Brunswick George III
George IV
William IV
Canadian monarchs1
1837–1876 In English: By the Grace of God Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith
In French: par la grâce de Dieu Reine du Royaume-Uni du Grande-Bretagne et Irlande, Défenseur de la Foi2
Victoria
1876–1901 In English: By the Grace of God Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India
In French: par la grâce de Dieu Reine du Royaume-Uni du Grande-Bretagne et Irlande, Défenseur de la Foi, Impératrice des Indes
Victoria
1901–1927 In English: By the Grace of God King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India
In French: par la grâce de Dieu Roi du Royaume-Uni du Grande-Bretagne et Irlande et des dominions britanniques au delà des mers, Défenseur de la Foi, Empereur des Indes
Edward VII
George V
1927–1948 In English: By the Grace of God King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India
In French: par la grâce de Dieu Roi du Grande-Bretagne, Irlande et des dominions britanniques au delà des mers, Défenseur de la Foi, Empereur des Indes
George V
Edward VIII
George VI
1948–1953 In English: By the Grace of God King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith
In French: par la grâce de Dieu Roi du Grande-Bretagne, Irlande et des dominions britanniques au delà des mers, Défenseur de la Foi3
George VI
1953– In English: By the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith
In French: par la grâce de Dieu Reine du Royaume-Uni, du Canada et de ses autres royaumes et territoires, Chef du Commonwealth, Défenseur de la Foi4
Elizabeth II
1 Queen Victoria is regarded as being the first monarch of Canada, having created Confederation in 1867.
2 Upon Confederation the newly formed federal government was made bilingual.
3 As the Statute of Westminster, 1931, disallowed the applicability of any law passed at Westminster to Canada, the Canadian parliament passes its first separate Royal Style and Titles Act in 1948 to bring the King's title in Canada in line with the change to his title in the United Kingdom.
4 Queen Elizabeth II was the first Canadian monarch to be titled as Queen of Canada.

Style of the monarch

The use of the styles Highness and Majesty originated in the United Kingdom, where they were used from the 12th century onward. During the reign of James VI of Scotland and I of England and Ireland, however, Majesty became the official style, to the exclusion of all others. It was then brought to North America during colonial times, through usage in reference to the British monarch, who then had sovereignty over the colonies on that continent. Its usage has continued since Canada became a kingdom in its own right in 1867, and after a process of constitutional evolution ending with full sovereignty from the United Kingdom, is now applied to the Canadian monarch.

Unlike in the United Kingdom, where the sovereign is referred to in treaties and on British passports as Her [His] Britannic Majesty, the sovereign in Canada is referred to simply as Her [His] Majesty (Sa Majesté). However, from time to time, the style will be Her [His] Canadian Majesty so as to differentiate from foreign sovereigns.

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