Ottawa is very silent about King Charles’ coronation – and the royalists are worried

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Canada’s monarchs say they are troubled by the fact that the federal government has not yet said how the country will celebrate the coronation of King Charles – a landmark event for the head of state who is only two months away.

Royal observers say that as a prominent member of the Commonwealth of Nations with close historical ties to the Crown, Canada should meaningfully celebrate Charles’ accession as king and Camilla’s coronation as queen consort.

The coronation – a service filled with religious symbolism and the Queen – is generally seen as one of the most important days of a monarch’s reign.

While he assumed the throne after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, in September, Charles at the May 6 coronation would make solemn promises to the people he served.

Charles and camilla are seen getting off their plane in yellowknife.
Charles and Camilla come down in Yellowknife during part of the Royal Canada tour in May 2022. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

This day is also seen as a good time to celebrate the beginning of Charles’s reign because the day of his accession fell during a period of national mourning.

Robert Finch, president of the Royal League of Canada, said the federal government’s silence is frustrating.

“We’re two months away from the coronation and there’s still no concrete plan that we know of. There’s no meat on the bone, and in some cases, not even any bones,” Finch told CBC News.

He said the monarch stands at the heart of Canada’s parliamentary democracy and the ceremonies should reflect his outsized position in national politics.

“I don’t want the day to come and all we do is say, ‘Hey, it’s Coronation Day,’ and that’s it,” he said.

“There is a new King. There is a new Head of State in Canada and he must be recognized in a meaningful way.”

Watch: King Charles’ Deep Ties to Canada


King Charles’ deep ties to Canada

Britain’s new monarch, King Charles, has deep ties with Canada, having established relationships with some Canadians through his charitable work and outreach during his many visits to the country.

In January, the UK government released details of a planned three-day spectacle – a nationwide celebration of the first coronation in 70 years.

Besides the coronation itself in London’s Westminster Abbey, there will be a “big luncheon” and street parties across the country, special charity events and a televised concert featuring amateur choirs made up of refugees, members of the LGBT community and NHS workers, among others – all It’s part of Charles’ efforts to make the day more reflective of modern society.

There will also be a special ‘bank holiday’ – a day off from work so British revelers can take part in the festivities and volunteer with local charities.

King charles salutes as he leaves westminster abbey after the state funeral of queen elizabeth.
King Charles salutes as he leaves Westminster Abbey after the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth on September 19, 2022. (Martin Meisner/Pool via AP Photo)

Canadian royals are envious of the coronation.

“Celebrating institutions, symbols, ceremonies—these are very important aspects of national life,” said Finch. “We should do something.”

A Heritage Canada spokesperson said in a statement that the government “looks forward to celebrating the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III in May 2023 and celebrating this historic moment.”

“Work is ongoing by the government and various partners to plan coronation events and initiatives in Canada,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesman said details of the events “will be announced in due course”.

That’s not good enough, Finch said, and it won’t give communities the time they need to plan events.

In the past, Heritage Canada, the federal department responsible for all things royal, has made small grants to organizers who want to celebrate royal events.

Last year, for example, the federal government offered up to $5,000 to communities that wanted to hold events to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee—events that were also used to educate the public about the role of the monarchy in Canada.

Without the money, Finch said, these events would not have come together.

“It’s a real shame but that’s kind of where we find ourselves,” he said.

Finch said he and his group are also worried about the lack of discussion of an official statue of the monarch for Canadian coins, or a royal tour by Charles and Camilla sometime this year to celebrate his new era.

People stand around the centennial flame while portraits of queen elizabeth ii are displayed on parliament hill in parliament house.
People stand around the Centennial Flame as portraits of Queen Elizabeth II are displayed on the central block on Parliament Hill to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Ottawa on Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

Justin Vovk, a royal commentator and doctoral candidate at McMaster University who specializes in the history of the monarchy, said he was “not too surprised” that the government has been so silent about the coronation – it’s just not a priority.

“The Trudeau government views the monarchy as a kind of Christmas ornament. You take it out of the box, polish it up and show it off to people maybe once a year, and then put it back in the box,” Vovk told CBC News. others until it is absolutely necessary.”

Vovke said the government may also be aware that Charles is less popular than his mother, the late Queen, which could explain its muted approach.

“The Trudeau government doesn’t make much use of the monarchy as an everyday institution,” he said. “And Charles pretty much follows the hardest work to follow. Anything that’s done will pale in comparison.”

If the government rolls out the “red carpet” for the coronation, Vovk said, it could appear “really insensitive” to Canadians grappling with a host of issues — including the high cost of living and a healthcare system in crisis.

But Vovk said the coronation could be a “golden opportunity” for the government to modernize the image of the monarchy in Canada.

Vovk said there was no prospect of the crown being relinquished anytime soon — that would require a protracted constitutional battle with the provinces — and so the federal government should use the day to endorse the issues it cares about most.

Royal visit
Charles waves to crowds as he arrives with then-President Perry Bellegard at ceremonies at Wanuskewen Heritage Park near Saskatoon on April 28, 2001. Charles was given a Cree name and star blanket on the day – in recognition of his close relationship with indigenous peoples. (Adrian Wilde / The Canadian Press)

King Charles is closely aligned with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a number of issues.

Charles has always been concerned about climate change and youth issues. As Prince of Wales, he encouraged reconciliation among the indigenous population.

Charles has also been a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its war against Russia – a stance that aligns with Trudeau’s worldview.

Vovke said coronation ceremonies can reflect those shared priorities.

Queen elizabeth ii seated on the throne during her coronation in westminster abbey in 1953.
This June 2, 1953 file photo shows Queen Elizabeth II seated on the throne during her coronation in Westminster Abbey. (file / AP photo)

Canada has changed dramatically in the 70 years since Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

Then-Governor General of Canada, Vincent Massey, Fofke said, held a grand patriotic party that included “celebrations of empire.”

Massey, Canada’s first Canadian-born Governor-General, had an ornate carriage built to celebrate the coronation. He also issued silver spoons to all Canadian children born on that day – June 2, 1953.

Parties were held from coast to coast. Special postage stamps have been issued.

The National Film Board commissioned a documentary on “Canada at the Coronation”, which showed the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s special role in the Queen’s Big Day.

Canada sent the largest group to London of any Commonwealth country – 180 soldiers marched in the coronation procession while 320 lined the route in the area near Canada House.

Gone is the British Empire and Western countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom grapple with their own colonial histories.

“The Trudeau government needs to take the essential elements of Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 and adapt them to Canada in 2023,” Vovke said.

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