Prince Charles and Camilla visit Canada

OTTAWA — No one will likely raise it in his presence, but when Prince Charles arrives in Canada on Tuesday for a three-day visit to mark...


OTTAWA — No one will likely raise it in his presence, but when Prince Charles arrives in Canada on Tuesday for a three-day visit to mark the 70th anniversary of his mother’s accession to the throne, one question will hover over the trip: Canadians accept him as their king?

Without amending the Constitution of Canada, Charles will automatically succeed Queen Elizabeth II as head of state of Canada, like all British monarchs since the founding of the country. Poll after poll shows the 96-year-old Queen who has battled some recent health issues is widely respected by Canadians.

However, for several years an ever-decreasing number of Canadians, according to polls, have wanted to swear allegiance to another British monarch, in particular Charles, who is hated by many here and who represents an institution that many see as less and less relevant to their lives.

However, what the Canadians could do to prevent the reign of King Charles III is much less clear.

“Both sides in Canada are a bit on a truce,” said Philippe Lagassé, an associate professor at Carleton University and a specialist in the role of the monarchy in Canada. “The monarchists keep the formal legal position, they get the occasional royal tour and they get some symbolism. But Republicans can say that the monarchical principle does not really animate Canadian life in any meaningful way.

The visit of Charles and his wife Camilla, which comes a year after the remains of hundreds of children were identified as buried on the grounds of a former residential school for Native children in British Columbia, has something of an Aboriginal theme.

They will attend a reconciliation event in the province of Newfoundland, their first stop on the trip, and visit an Indigenous First Nation near Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories on the final day. In the meantime, the royal couple will be in Ottawa, the capital.

The trip will also include climate-related discussions between Charles and business leaders as well as a visit to an ice road to discuss the effects of climate change in the Far North.

Perhaps the only mystery surrounding the visit is whether the handshake, traditionally the core business of Royal Tours, will be replaced by a more Covid-safe form of greeting.

At the end of last month, a poll published by the Angus Reid Institute, a non-profit public opinion research group, reported that 55% of Canadians found the monarchy irrelevant and a further 24% said it was becoming less relevant. A resounding 67% of Canadians polled said they opposed the idea of ​​Charles succeeding his mother.

Large and enthusiastic crowds greeted Charles when he visited Canada with Diana, his first wife, three times. But public interest in him quickly waned after they split in 1992.

His sometimes condescending attitude doesn’t work well in a country that values ​​egalitarianism. The relationship between Charles’s brother Andrew and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epsteinwho hanged himself in a Manhattan jail, further eroded Canadian support for the monarchy.

Their position was further damaged after Meghan Markle, Charles’ daughter-in-law who lived in Toronto and British Columbia, said in an interview that she was subjected to racially insensitive comments by members of the royal family

Still, Charles and Camilla are likely to draw crowds, especially in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where their visit will be the town’s dominating topic.

Geography plays a role in how the royal family is perceived. In modern times, the monarchy never enjoyed significant support in predominantly French-speaking Quebec, the second most populous province.

And Canada’s changing demographics have helped spread that sentiment elsewhere.

Many immigrants to Canada come from countries like China, which gives them no real connection to the British monarchy. Or they have roots in countries like India where the crown is still seen by many as a symbol of occupation and repression.

“There just might be a time when Canadians will say, ‘Huh, who’s that guy on my money?’ said Shachi Kurl, president of Angus Reid.

The continuing level of support for the monarchy is due, in large part, to respect for the Queen, Ms Kurl said, and is likely destined to drop further after her death.

“The lack of motivation to make a change really has to do with genuine affection for her as much as anything else,” she said.

Barbados has let down the queen as head of state and became a republic last November in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles and Rihanna. Six other Caribbean nations could follow suit.

Separate visits to the Caribbean this year by Prince Edward, Charles’s brother, and Prince William, the son of the future king, were protested against the monarchy and Britain’s brutal history with slavery. The protests forced the cancellation of some judgments.

Rather than worry about the protests, the organizers of Charles’s trip to Canada seem to have made efforts to ensure that he just has an audience. Other than a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, there aren’t really many occasions for crowds in major cities to gather.

Instead, he will visit Quidi Vidi, a neighborhood and fishing village in St. John’s, Newfoundland, a city of 114,000, where the appearance of an international celebrity, popular or not, is bound to be a major event.

According to Professor Lagassé and Ms. Kurl, the system of amending the Constitution of Canada to remove the British monarch as head of state makes such a step extremely difficult. Replacing the British monarch with a Canadian head of state would require the unanimous consent of the federal government and all 10 provinces. In a country where politics is driven by regionalism, getting that consent might be impossible.

“Any discussion of constitutional change is political kryptonite for most politicians,” Ms Kurl said. “They would rather not go and just look at their shoes.”

A workaround, Professor Lagassé said, could be to speed up a long process of simply diminishing the presence of the monarch in Canada. He said that since 1947, the Queen’s powers, which are mostly symbolic, have been vested in the Governor General, her official representative in Canada.

There are, Professor Lagassé said, a number of steps the Canadian government can take without legislation, let alone meddling with the constitution.

The Queen was once featured on all Canadian banknotes. Removing it from the last remaining note, the $20 note, poses no legal problems, he said, nor does it replace the royal effigy on the coins. No law requires the portrait of the monarch to hang in government offices or, for that matter, mandates royal visits.

“There’s a whole bunch of these things, the soft underbelly of monarchical symbolism, that can be tampered with,” Professor Lagassé said. “The general approach now in Canada is that the monarchy is here, it’s not broken. Don’t bother with it, but don’t give it more room than it actually needs.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Prince Charles and Camilla visit Canada
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