Note – Even when there is a break-up in the royal family and the one leaving no longer carries on any official duties, their title remains. The difference is found in a comma. An active royal has no comma between their name and title, an inactive one does. And that comma is to illustrate a pause in royal life.
Note – The above title is based on the famous song from the 1920s Broadway play, Shuffle Along -“I’m just wild about Harry and he’s just wild about me!”
A real-estate agent was showing a home to a young couple. After giving the usual real-estate sales pitch, the agent had a guilty conscience and confessed that there is good news and bad news about the house. The bad news? A slaughter yard to the north (when the wind blows south you can smell the animal innards) and a chemical plant to the south (when the wind blows north you can smell the gaseous fumes). The couple naturally inquired – if that’s the bad news, what’s the good news? And the salesperson replied, “When you go outside, you will always be able to tell which way the wind is blowing!”
The question is, Why would anyone speak of a foul scent regarding a couple of young royals from Britain looking to set up home in Canada? Here’s the answer.
Note – The following is my paraphrase of an editorial from Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail. It is a conservative publication and so surprised many pundits with its negative position. Of course, each Canadian will have to make up their own mind.
Britain is the inventor of one of the world’s great innovations in government: a monarch that reigns, but does not rule. Canada took that system and improved it by pushing it one step further. The Canadian monarchy is virtual; it neither rules nor resides. Our royals don’t live here and they reign from a distance; close to our hearts, but far from our hearths. And this is why, in response to the sudden announcement of a vague and evolving plan for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Princess Meghan) to move to Canada while remaining part of the Royal Family – there are those Canadians who believe our government’s response should be both simple and succinct: No. You are welcome to visit, but being senior royals, we cannot allow you to come and stay. And this isn’t about breaking up with the Crown. On the contrary, it’s about maintaining Canada’s unique and highly successful monarchy.
Canadians like their monarchy, and visits by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family tend to produce outpourings of public enthusiasm. But while the people who embody the Crown pay visits from time to time, they don’t set up a home on the premises. As Prince Philip once quipped, we don’t come to Canada for our health, we come because we are asked. The Royals then do their duty by sharing in celebrations and commendations, all the time careful not to cause any kind of fuss. Then after a short stay, they go home. But Harry and Meghan are different – they are asking not only to come, but also to stay. However a royal living in this country does not accord with the long-standing nature of the relationship between Canada and Britain, and Canada and the Crown.
Now, if they were ordinary private citizens, plain old Harry and Meghan from Sussex, they would be more than welcome to live here. But they are not. They’re only “stepping back” from their royal duties and only “not using” their royal titles, but remain royalty. And this country’s unique monarch, with its delicate and yet essential place in our constitutional system, means that a royal resident (the Prince is sixth in the line of succession) is not something Canada should allow. It breaks an unconstitutional taboo.
Yes, the concept of the Crown is at the centre of the Canadian system of government. Bills aren’t law until they receive royal consent; crimes are prosecuted in the name of Her Majesty by lawyers known as crown attorneys; your passport asks foreign states for protection in the name of the Queen. (When I passed the Canadian citizenship test and was approved for such back in the year 2002, as part of the ceremony you swore allegiance to the Queen.) All of this comes out of constitutional order, more than a century-and-a-half old, based on the British model. But though Canada borrowed from Britain, it isn’t Britain and never was. And this country long ago began to take steps to make that unmistakably clear.
Canada has never had a class system with hereditary aristocrats like Britain, and Canada definitively broke with the idea of aristocracy when the Nickle Resolution of 1919 asked the British government to stop conferring titles on Canadians. What’s more, with the Statute of Westminster of 1931, Canada’s relationship to Britain was spelled out as one of being equal, but independent nations.
However, Canada kept the monarchy and a head of state (something we do share with the other fifty-two Commonwealth countries). The head of state’s representatives here are the governor-general and the provincial lieutenant-governor – who perform essential duties from opening parliaments to deciding who gets to form a government in minority situations. They’re as close as Canada comes to having a resident royalty, but they are not royalty. Instead, they’re merely temporary avatars for a virtual monarchy which remains permanently ensconced across the sea. Furthermore, from the 1950s on, governor-generals have always been Canadians. And so princes are not shipped over here when no useful duties can be found for them on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Sussexes are working out their own personal issues, and Canadians wish them the best of luck. Canada does welcome people of all faiths, nationalities and races, but if you are a senior member of our Royal Family, this country cannot become your home. The government should make that clear. There can be no Prince of Vancouver or Princess of Toronto. Canada is not a halfway house for someone looking to get out of Britain while at the same time remaining a royal.
The bottom line? When it comes to the Queen’s grandson, he is not just another Tom, Dick or Harry.