Today in Canada's Political History: Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!

  • National Newswatch

Today is yet another milestone in the life of public service of Her Majesty, the Queen of Canada, who was born on this date in 1926.  Our Monarch is still performing her duties with grace and skill, as we saw recently when the Queen received our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in audience.To mark the Sovereign's special day, I've turned to a distinguished expert on the Canadian monarchy, D. Michael Jackson. He is president and a Fellow of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada. He is co-editor with Christopher McCreery of A Resilient Crown: Canada's Monarchy at the Platinum Jubilee, to be published by Dundurn Press in August 2022. Over to you Michael and, happy birthday Your Majesty.Queen Elizabeth II – A Remarkable Sovereignby D. Michael JacksonHer Majesty Queen Elizabeth II turns ninety-six today. Remarkably fit and spry, she seems well on course to become a centenarian like her mother. On February 6 she marked another special anniversary: her Platinum Jubilee – seventy years as our sovereign. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, the Queen has been an exemplary monarch. Both as Queen of Canada and as Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth has shown a profound commitment to the ideals of a multiracial, multicultural and multi-faith society. In particular, she has placed a high importance on the Crown's special relationship with the Indigenous peoples of our country.Canada has grown and changed greatly over the course of the Queen's reign, yet her role, and that of the Crown in the broadest sense, has not faded into obscurity as many predicted in the 1970s and 1980s. Elizabeth II is the only head of state 85 percent of Canadians have ever known. Over the same period we have seen twelve prime ministers and 128 premiers serve in office. The passing of the Queen's consort, the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021 brought into sharper focus the reality that an inevitable transition of the Crown is on the horizon. Naturally, this has sparked discussion and debate about the monarchy's purpose and future in what will be the post-Elizabethan era.Polling related to Canadians' support for the Queen has remained largely unchanged over the last decade, although there appears to be a slight shift in attitudes towards constitutional monarchy and its future. This may well be a by-product of a civil society that is increasingly sceptical of all structures of authority, especially in the post-pandemic world.Building on the universally high esteem for Elizabeth II, increasingly active and publicly engaged governors general and lieutenant governors have given the Crown a renewed and increased locally-focused profile, despite the precipitous departure of Julie Payette from the office of governor general in 2021. Their important constitutional and representative functions are better understood. And there is the less tangible but highly significant role that the Crown plays as part of reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.The monarchy headed by Queen Elizabeth II remains subtly and profoundly embedded in Canada's political culture. The complex, adaptive and constantly evolving nature of the monarchical institution has been variously described as “chameleon” and “shapeshifting. In a forthcoming book, we call it “resilient.”Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney's best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen's Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.