Monarchists seek city ceremony

Council puts request on hold while seeking info on group seeking to honour Queen Elizabeth as longest-tenured monarch in September

A Canadian group loyal to the monarchy wants the City of Campbell River to join in a celebration across the nation marking the reign of the Queen.

Buckingham Palace has calculated that on September 9 Queen Elizabeth II will have served longer than any other monarch in modern history.

“The Queen’s reign will surpass that of Canada’s other great Mother of Confederation, Queen Victoria,” wrote Robert Finch, dominion chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada, to city council. “Canadians agree that our sovereign has shown the ideals to which we might all aspire and which reflect our country’s traditions. In that spirit of service, I am writing…to ask that your municipal government consider organizing a brief, simple, heartfelt noon-time ceremony, preferably outdoors, at your town or city hall or some other central place in your community on September 9.

“This would allow citizens to share a tribute to the Queen on this special day, and so join a chain of municipalities large and small across Canada in a public demonstration of thanks, loyalty and deep affection.”

But Coun. Charlie Cornfield was hesitant to go along with the league’s request without knowing more about the organization.

“I would like to get clarification on this to see whether or not this is a federally recognized program to recognize the reign of the Queen being the longest in our history of the monarchy,” Cornfield said. “I’m unclear as to what they are. Are they an offbeat group or are they tied into Heritage Canada which is a federal government program?”

Agreeing with Cornfield, council voted to have city staff come back with a report on the background of the Monarchist League.

According to the group’s website, the league was formed in 1970 to promote better understanding of the history and benefits of a Canadian constitutional monarchy. The group says the league “maintains a close relationship with Rideau Hall via the governor general’s private secretary and the chancellory of honours, and enjoys similar close contact with many of the ten lieutenant governors’ offices as well as with the federal department of Canadian Heritage.”

The league also lobbies all levels of government for the visibility and full use of royal symbols in everyday life. It cites one of its victories as a media and email campaign in 2008 that convinced BC Ferries to reverse a short-lived policy of removing pictures of the Queen from its vessels.

Now it is encouraging Canadian communities to host events honouring the longest-running reign of a monarch.

The league is suggesting a 15-20 minute celebration involving the singing of the national anthem, a proclamation, a message from the municipality to be sent to the Queen, and a tribute by a guest speaker.

Two Island communities – Parksville and Oak Bay – have committed to celebrations on September 9, as has Armstrong, B.C., and seven communities in Ontario, four in Atlantic Canada, and one in Manitoba.