Sunday, July 4, 2010

A foreign monarch in Canada

Haven't been near the internet in too long. Too much going on, I guess. Lots that I'd like to write about, though.

Anyway, I just wanted, in passing, to mention a clip I saw on the news a few days ago when the Queen was in Halifax. They were interviewing various people fawning over the Queen (how one-sided is the media while they Queen's here in Canada?) and they interviewed some oldie. She said she was absolutely delighted to have the Queen in town. "I'm British," she said, "so it's especially important for me."

I've been mulling that over in my head for the past few days. I think it really exposes the lie inherent in Canada's continuing embrace of a foreign monarch: that in some way she is of Canada or in some way belongs to Canada. This retired old lady, certainly Canadian but of foreign origin as a massive amount of Canadians are, makes no attempt to say that 'being Canadian, the Queen is important to me'. Even this British-Canadian sees the Queen as a British phenomenon, not a Canadian one.

And... well, duh. Yes, she's the Queen of Canada. But that phrase just sounds ridiculous even when I say it right now. I'd love to walk around the streets of a Canadian city with a picture of the Queen asking people who she is. A good number would say 'the Queen' (as I guess they might in the States too). I'd love then to say, 'yes but the queen of which country', in order to see how many people say 'the Queen of England'.

After all, that's what she is. It makes a lot more sense to call her the Queen of England than to call her the Queen of a country she's visited only twenty-some-odd times in her whole, lengthy, life. She complimented the Canadian people by calling Canada a 'home away from home' or a 'second home'. But that again is the point: the Queen is British first, whatever else second. I'm reminded of the time Prince Charles went to Mexico, one of Canada's main trading partners, as an envoy to increase economic ties with the UK. On the one hand, it's shocking to think that the future Head of State of Canada would negotiate against the interests of one of his future realms with one of that realm's closes economic partners. But on the other hand, of course he would. He's British, not Canadian.

Royal visits to Canada lengthen and strengthen out irrational commitment to the monarchy. From a point of view of self-preservation, it makes sense for them to come every now and then. But it would be nice if we took these trips as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the peculiar status we have: being subjects of a foreign monarch. You'd figure we'd ask ourselves every now and then why that is.
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