Canada’s monarchs say they are disappointed with what they call the federal government’s “faded” plans to celebrate the queen’s platinum jubilee, an event honoring the monarch’s seven-decade reign.
The monarchs say the federal government is “indifferent” to this historic event – which they see in the lack of official events, the lack of a jubilee medal to celebrate community service and a limited three-day royal tour by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – as an affront to the Queen’s legacy.
“It’s actually embarrassing. I wouldn’t say shameful but it’s embarrassing. I think we’re a better country than this and I don’t think it represents who we are,” John Fraser, founder of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada, told CBC News.
“We are sovereign number one, so it was good that the federal government was already showing some interest,” Fraser said, citing Canada’s prominent place in the Commonwealth of Nations and its close historical ties to the crown.
Heritage Canada, the federal department that takes charge of all things property, has a webpage detailing what Ottawa has planned for the occasion.
Canada Post has issued a stamp. The Royal Canadian Mint has released a $250 commemorative coin set – the limited offer is already sold out. There will be some kind of exhibit on display at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa this summer.
Heritage Canada will raise banners in the National Capital Region. Provincial governors and regional commissioners will allocate some parks to the Queen.
In the UK, there will be an extended four-day weekend in early June with 1,800 public events and 2,000 street parties planned to celebrate the Queen who, after more than 25,000 days on the throne, is the third longest-reigning monarch in the world. Date.
The UK’s extensive program also includes official events such as the Trooping of the Color Parade, religious services, a concert at Buckingham Palace and a special run for the Derby for the Queen, a famous horse lover.
Australia, another Commonwealth country in which the Queen is Head of State, has designated June 2-5 as the celebration of Her Majesty’s reign. There will be concerts, special events, ‘thanksgiving services’, prominent buildings lit up in royal purple, and fairs across the country.
There is also an online directory of community events to celebrate what the Australian government calls “this truly phenomenal achievement” and “a tribute to the Queen’s seventy years of dedication and service to Australia”.
In Canada, the federal government announced on Monday – just weeks before other Commonwealth countries are ready to celebrate the Queen – a $2 million grant to help communities plan their own events in the coming months.
Announcing the funds, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriquez said: “For more than 70 years, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been an example of dedication and a remarkable witness to the growth and achievement of Canadians, and the values that unite us.”
The boxes, he said, “will allow Canadians across the country to learn more about our King, celebrate this anniversary and reflect on what public service means in today’s society.”
No jubilee medals
The federal government will not issue jubilee medals to Canadians this year, as it did in the silver, gold, and diamond jubilee celebrations in 1977, 2002, and 2012. These medals are traditionally awarded to a select few to recognize significant contributions and achievements.
Instead, Ottawa outsourced the distribution of the “Jubilee Pins” to the Royal Canadian Association, a private organization, which flooded the requests. While determining the recipients of the Jubilee Medal, anyone can send away to get a pin.
Robert Finch, president of the dominant Royal League, said the group had already sent “tens of thousands” of pins. Finch said Heritage Canada has not ordered enough staples to keep up with demand, and there is now a growing backlog of orders.
It’s a sign that while the government may have planned relatively little, Finch said, Canadians are eager to celebrate their monarch on such an important occasion.
“The demand was so overwhelming,” Finch said in an interview with CBC News. “I would never have thought in my wildest dreams that there would be such a great demand.”
“We just don’t have them to donate. It’s a big deal. I’d rather be in this scenario than have a bunch of pins that nobody wants.”
Finch said the Royal League has “never received a good answer or thought as to why Canada has not been awarded the Jubilee Medals” – a program he said had proven “an excellent way to honor and appreciate Canadians every day”.
More than two years into the harsh pandemic, Finch said, awarding medals to overworked healthcare workers and frontline workers would be a small but meaningful gesture of appreciation from a grateful country.
“It’s unfortunate. There is no good reason why we can’t do it,” he said.
The three-day royal tour is a ‘missed opportunity’: the royal
Charles and Camilla will arrive in Canada today for a three-day royal tour, with stops in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa and the Northwest Territories – one of several trips made by members of the royal family to celebrate the platinum jubilee of the Queen’s Realms.
But the short duration of the visit and the limited itinerary are a disappointment to royal watchers. By comparison, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, took an eight-day swing across the Caribbean earlier this year.
Finch said the Canadian tour – which was planned by officials at Heritage Canada with a limited contribution from Clarence House, Prince Charles’ office – bypasses the country’s largest population centers and ignores all of western Canada in favor of “very small, very remote communities”.
“In order for the King to maintain a following and a presence in Canada, you have to have members of the royal family come to Canada – and they can’t come for just two or three days,” he said. “It’s a missed opportunity.”
Fraser agreed, calling it a “very sad and small tour”.
Fraser said the Canadian jubilee agenda is baffling because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is known to have a warm relationship with the reigning monarch and has met her several times at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and at Commonwealth summits abroad. He’s known her for decades, having first met her when his father, Pierre Trudeau, was prime minister.
On her 94th birthday in 2020, Trudeau said Canada was “grateful for her leadership and unwavering commitment to our country and the Commonwealth” and praised her “extraordinary service, strength and enduring grace.”
Trudeau also called the Queen “a guardian of many of our country’s traditions”, and on her 93rd birthday in 2019, she said “many Canadians feel a deep appreciation for the Queen.”
Although she is keeping a very limited agenda these days due to her advanced age, the Queen personally welcomed Trudeau at Windsor Castle earlier this year after recovering from COVID-19.
After that meeting, Trudeau praised her, calling her “as insightful and clear as ever” and saying she was “very interested in what’s happening in Canada.”
Fraser said a combination of pandemic and politics is likely to blame for the silent jubilee celebration. He said former Governor-General Julie Payette’s scandalous period as deputy king may have caused the government to become nervous about royal traditions.
“Liberal governments over the past 30 or 40 years – and I vote for liberals quite often – have basically reduced the role of the Crown and the monarchy in Canada. It’s in their nature,” he said.
“Liberals underestimate it and conservatives play with it and that’s bad. He has to move beyond those kinds of politics.”