The coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, opens a new window and Her Majesty Queen Camilla, opens a new window took place on May 6. 2023. This historic event is the first coronation of a Canadian Head of State, opens a new window and Monarch in 70 years. As a constitutional monarchy, opens a new window and Commonwealth realm, Canada is celebrating this milestone event and the role the Crown plays in our system of government and sense of identity.
The Crown in Canada was first established by the kings of France in the sixteenth century. Organized as a royal province of France, both French and British kings and queens have reigned over Canada since 1534. In today’s constitutional monarchy, His Majesty King Charles III is Canada’s Head of State.
At Confederation, political leaders decided to remain a constitutional monarchy by signing the Constitution Act, 1867, opens a new window which gave Canada a system of government modelled from that of the United Kingdom. The British government continued to control Canada’s foreign policy until 1982 when Canada “patriated” its Constitution. The Patriation of the Constitution, opens a new window transferred the country’s highest law from the authority of the British Parliament to Canada’s federal and provincial legislatures.
Today, the Governor General of Canada, opens a new window represents His Majesty The King at the federal level. Appointed as governor of New France in 1627, Samuel de Champlain was the first of 18 French governors who held the position until 1760. Until 1867, 21 British governors and governor generals held office in Canada. In 1952 Vincent Massey was the first Canadian to hold the office. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, opens a new window was sworn in on July 26, 2021, as Canada’s first Indigenous governor general.
The Canadian Coronation Emblem, opens a new window was created to mark the Coronation of King Charles III. The Royal Monogram (CIIIR) in the centre of the Emblem and the Royal Crown at the top are personal symbols of The King. There are 13 triangles representing Canada’s provinces and territories in a circular arrangement conveying the idea of inclusion for all Canadians. The white space can be seen as a sunburst, symbolizing innovation and new ideas. The Emblem was designed and painted by Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, Fraser Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority., opens a new window
Coronations for the British Monarch have been taking place in Westminster Abbey since 1066. The earliest recorded coronation is the crowning of the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar in Bath in 953 CE. King Charles III is the oldest monarch to be crowned King. Explore 100 Coronation Facts, opens a new window on The Royal Family website, opens a new window.
The existence of historic and modern treaties and agreements in Canada, opens a new window demonstrates that early settlers understood First Nations peoples are sovereign and negotiated Nation to Nation. The Royal Proclamation of 1763, opens a new window is known to be one of the most important treaties in Canada between Europeans and Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Nations across North America had to deal with new colonizing forces since European settlers arrived. This had a significant impact on pre-existing conflicts and the network of alliances between Indigenous people and the newcomers. Treaties define specific rights, benefits and obligations, they provide a framework for living together and sharing the land Indigenous peoples traditionally occupied. Governor General Mary Simon arranged a meeting with the British Monarch just two days before King Charles III coronation. The meeting was the first where a British monarch sat down with First nations, Inuit and Metis representatives together, opens a new window.
While coronations mark changes within the British Royal Family, the institution endures allowing each monarch to define their reign. As part of the Commonwealth, Canada will be affected by this political change. For more on The Crown in Canada and the reigns of King Charles I & II explore our reading lists below.