Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Majesty in Canada: Essays on the Role of Royalty

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Majesty in Canada: Essays on the Role of Royalty

Article excerpt

Colin Coates (ed.), Majesty in Canada: Essays on the Role of Royalty (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2005), 270pp. Paper. £17.00. ISBN 9781-5500-2586-6.

The Queen's head might still grace Canadian banknotes and coins, but there are ever fewer reminders that the sovereign remains, nominally at least, the head of state. The essays in this volume, originally delivered at a conference in Edinburgh to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne, look at the surprisingly complex subject of monarchy (French as well as British) and its changing place in Canada.

The books opens with a chapter focusing on two lesser-known royal visits to Canada: one by the future Edward VII in 1860, and one by the future George VI in 1901. Neither was undertaken with much enthusiasm by the royals concerned, says Phillip Buckner. The first was undertaken in large part to help lay the ground for what Prince Albert foresaw as 'an enlarged role for the monarchy as the lynchpin of the Empire'; the second was undertaken to reward Canada's participation in the Boer War. Both tours were huge media events in their day, but Buckner - who has long championed the importance of the British connection in Canada's story - goes on to argue that as a result of modern Canadian historians' 'obsession with the evolution of a Canadian national identity', such precedent-setting royal tours have largely been written out of the nation's history.

One of the most interesting chapters is 'All This Fuss and Feathers' in which J. Andrew Ross looks at the hypocrisy with which some Canadian politicians treated the granting of knighthoods and other honours, and how abuse of the system in due course led to the Nickle debate of 1918, and their subsequent scrapping and replacement by a wholly Canadian honours system. …

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