King Charles III?

Commentary, Culture Wars, Brian Giesbrecht

This royal wedding may be the last one that is watched with so much interest by so many Canadians. Recent polls reveal that most of us are not enthusiastic about the prospect of a King Charles III as our head of state, and the much loved Queen Elizabeth II is now in her nineties. Upon her demise, will the republicans in our midst seize the opportunity, and convince Canadians that we should ditch the monarchy and go it alone?

Why not? Most people no longer take the institution of monarchy very seriously. The idea of princes and princesses born to their high station, and waiting for the death of their Mama or Papa so they can don their regal robes and crown, and sit on a golden throne seems rather outdated, if not downright silly. It is the stuff of fairytales.

At the same time, most Canadians have a great deal of affection and respect for the present Queen. She has presided honorably over three quarters of a century of good times and bad. We owe her a great debt.

My guess is that the debate about the possible severing of the royal connection will begin immediately after the queen’s passing. Since the removal of a sovereign as head of state would require a constitutional change, that connection will not be brought to an end any time soon. After former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s disastrous attempts at constitutional change, it is unlikely that any Prime Minister will risk opening up that can of worms. Rather, it is more likely that over the next few decades the Canadian public will show even less interest in maintaining our connection to an aging King Charles III, or his successors.

For those hoping that William or Harry might save the day, we must keep in mind that their father could be around a long time – his parents are both in their nineties, after all. William and Harry may not be the dashing young men they are now when it finally gets around to their turn for the crown.

Moreover, most Quebecers have no interest in maintaining the royal connection. They consider the British monarchy a bit of historical baggage that they must endure, and a continuing reminder of the French loss to Britain on the Plains of Abraham those many years ago.

All of this does not augur well for the continuation of a royal head of state.

Perhaps the best that can be expected is that the formal royal connection will slowly fade away until conditions are right to bring about a formal severing of what has been an important relationship for Canada. The Queen’s steady hand, and her father’s before her, have helped guide us through troubled times.

And what about Mother England? When her beloved queen is gone, will the British also begin to question the relevance of a feudal institution in modern times?

Whatever happens, we will be witnessing the end of Canada’s Elizabethan era.