National Treasure #125: Queen Elizabeth II

Picture of Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day.

1953 June 01 – Coronation coverage


Picture spread of Royal family.

1953 June 01 – Coronation coverage

The coronation was on 02 June 1953 but Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, of the House of Windsor, has been Queen of Canada since 6 February 1952, and just recently celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee. It’s a long time to be in the public eye and in public service. As I post this, The Queen turns 91 Happy Birthday, Your Majesty – and has slowed down some, but it seems clear she’s in it for the long haul. I mean, as recently as 2012, she jumped from a helicopter with James Bond to start the London Olympics.

She is the world’s oldest reigning monarch as well as Britain’s longest-lived. In 2015, she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state in world history. In October 2016, she became the longest currently reigning monarch and head of state following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. – Wikipedia

The Queen and Prince Philip came to Edmonton when I was seven, as part of their 1959 six-week visit. She opened the St. Lawrence Seaway and they visited every province and territory. I remember waiting with the crowds lining their motorcade route on an Alberta blue-sky day and there they were – gone.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in open touring car, Edmonton AB, 1959

Scanned from original slide taken by A. Sheldon Gibson

Opinions vary on the relative merits of constitutional monarchies and republican forms of government. Given that nothing is perfect, I like what we have, including its clear separation of head of government and head of state.

Canada’s constitution is based on the Westminster parliamentary model, wherein the role of the Queen is both legal and practical, but not political. . . . Though it has been argued that the term head of state is a republican one inapplicable in a constitutional monarchy such as Canada, where the monarch is the embodiment of the state and thus cannot be head of it, the sovereign is regarded by official government sources, judges, constitutional scholars, and pollsters as the head of state, while the governor general and lieutenant governors are all only representatives of, and thus equally subordinate to, that figure. – Wikipedia (extensively footnoted in original)

And I like The Queen. From what I see, she’s made gracious work of a tough job.

I think I speak for my generation
when I say that the example and continuity provided by The Queen
is not only very rare among leaders
but a great source of pride and reassurance.

The Duke of Cambridge

I don’t know whether William speaks for his generation, but in this case he speaks for me.

Bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth on horseback

Statue of Elizabeth II on Parliament Hill.


Read more about The Queen:

Official Royal site, which has many video clips

Biography site

Watch this 90-minute CBC video on the Queen at 90.

Watch The Crown on Netflix for a compelling view of what it might be like inside The Queen’s life.

If you get the chance, watch Elizabeth at 90: A Family Tribute, a BBC documentary narrated by Prince Charles and which pairs delightful family videos dating to the 1930s, with reaction and discussion by family members watching the videos.

Finally, thanks to John Robson for doing my research for me and confirming that The Queen is a Canadian:

Further, in addition to the five Canadian citizens in the Royal Family, the sovereign and those among her relations who do not meet the requirements of Canadian citizenship law are considered Canadian, which entitles them to Canadian consular assistance and the protection of the Queen’s armed forces of Canada when they are in need of protection or aid outside of the Commonwealth realms, as well as to substantive appointment to Canadian orders or receipt of Canadian decorations. Beyond legalities, members of the Royal Family have, on occasion, been said by the media and non-governmental organisations to be Canadian, have declared themselves to be Canadian, and some past members have lived in Canada for extended periods as viceroy or for other reasons. – Wikipedia (extensively footnoted in the original)

This is one of a series on 150 Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people, places, and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.

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2 Responses to National Treasure #125: Queen Elizabeth II

  1. Marion says:

    I certainly agree that “she’s made gracious work of a tough job”.
    (I think you meant to say that in 1959 she was accompanied on her visit to Canada by Prince Philip, not Prince Charles.)

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