Kinsman: Does the ‘royal’ rebranding of the Canadian Forces have a wider meaning?

By: /
August 22, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

The “royal” retrofit to the Navy and Air Force titles plays to tradition and history important to military narratives. But the Conservative Government somehow computes that cherished devotion to being a “realm” of the British Royal Family suits Canadian identity in a much wider sense, including the goofy notion it distinguishes us from Americans. What a depressingly diminishing and out-of-date national self-concept.

The entrance lobby of the Lester Pearson HQ of Foreign Affairs now boasts a “Sovereign’s Wall”, featuring a VAST wall-sized photo-portrait of the Queen, a form of official decor reminiscent of Ceacescu’s Romania. Such contrived official over-devotion baffles the rest of the world, including, incidentally, the British. Yet, the mental contortion persists that a hereditary Royal Family from another country can credibly play the role of Heads of State to modern Canadians. I once cheerfully reminded a Very Senior Royal Person an Act of Parliament had conferred Canadian citizenship at birth. “A Canadian citizen? Am I really?” the Person responded. “How very odd.” Very odd indeed.