Canada is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its reigning monarch and head of state. Since 1534, when the King of France claimed possession of what is now Canada, the history of our country has been marked by the reigns of an uninterrupted succession of monarchs, both French and British, who have had a significant influence on our country's development. Under the Crown, Canada developed first as a colony of two empires, originally the French and subsequently the British, then as an independent dominion, and now as an entirely sovereign nation. The Crown occupies a central place in our Parliament and our democracy, founded on the rule of law and respect for rights and freedoms; the Crown embodies the continuity of the state and is the underlying principle of its institutional unity . The Crown is fused to all three branches of government. The Prime Minister, as head of the Executive, is the Governor General's principal advisor; the Crown is also a constituent element of Parliament, with the Senate and the House of Commons; and finally, all decisions made by the courts are given in the Crown's name. The most important characteristic of Canada's constitutional monarchy has been its ability to adapt to changing conditions over the course of our evolution from colony to nation. In the Senate Foyer and the Salon de la Francophonie hang the portraits of the kings and queens in whose names our laws have been, and continue to be, enacted.
The most notable features of the Canadian constitutional monarchy are:
Although Queen Elizabeth II is also monarch of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom does not have any sovereignty over Canada (nor does Canada have any sovereignty over the United Kingdom).
In all matters of state, Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada is advised exclusively by her governments in Canada. No British government can advise the Canadian monarch on Canadian matters.
All executive power is theoretically reposed in the Queen, who is represented in Canada by the Governor General of Canada, the lieutenant governors of the provinces, and the territorial commissioners. Royal Assent is required for all acts of Parliament and the legislatures, which sit at her pleasure. Persons swearing allegiance to Canada, such as immigrants, soldiers, and parliamentarians, swear allegiance to Her Majesty as Queen of Canada and as the legal embodiment of Canadian sovereignty. The Commissioners of Canada's northern territories of Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories are appointed by the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and are not formal representatives of the Crown. However, as the role of commissioner has become analogous to that of lieutenant governor the position has developed an informal role in regards to the Crown.
Queen Elizabeth II, as is common for all her other non-UK realms, assumes the role of "Queen of Canada."
The Queen is featured on all Canadian coinage as well as the twenty-dollar bill, and on postage stamps. Her portrait can usually be found in all government buildings, military installations, schools, and all of Canadaâ™s embassies abroad.
Her Majesty's Government
Her Majesty's Government is the formal title used by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the governments of some other kingdoms where executive authority is theoretically vested in the monarch and exercised through his or her ministers.
In the British Empire, the term "His Majesty's Government" was originally only used by the Imperial Government in London. With the development of the Commonwealth, the self-governing Dominions came to be seen as realms of the British Sovereign equal in status to the United Kingdom, and from the 1920s and 30s the form "His Majesty's Government in ..." began to be used by United Kingdom and Dominion governments. Colonial, state and provincial governments, on the other hand, continued to use the lesser title "Government of ...". There was also His Majesty's Government in the Irish Free State.
Today, however, most Commonwealth governments have now reverted to the form "Government of ...", and it is today mainly in the United Kingdom that the titles "Her Majesty's Government", "Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom" or "Her Britannic Majesty's Government", the last in dealings with foreign states can be found in official use.
Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition
Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is usually the largest parliamentary opposition party in the Canadian House of Commons that is not in government either on its own or as part of a governing coalition. This is usually the second-largest party in a legislative house, although in certain unusual circumstances, it may be a third or fourth party or even the largest party. It is styled as "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" to show that, although the group may be against the sitting government, it remains loyal to the Crown (the embodiment of the Canadian state), and thus to Canada.
The Great Seal of Canada
The Great Seal of Canada is a seal used for official purposes of state in Canada such as the certification of Acts of Parliament.
The first Great Seal of Canada was carved in England in 1869 and sent to Canada to replace a temporary seal which had been used since Canadian confederation in 1867. It depicted Queen Victoria seated behind a canopy. New seals are prepared whenever a new monarch takes the throne. The current Great Seal was made at the Royal Canadian Mint when Queen Elizabeth II succeeded her father and went into use in 1955. The seal is made of specially tempered steel, weighs 3.75 kilograms and is 12.7 centimetres in diameter. The image represents the Queen enthroned and robed, holding the orb and sceptre and shows her sitting on the coronation chair with the Royal Arms of Canada in front, and is incribed "Reine du Canada - Elizabeth II - Queen of Canada". The inscriptions on it are in French and English. Previous Great Seals of Canada were inscribed in Latin.
The Governor General of Canada is the official keeper of the great seal. Each Canadian province also has its own seal for official purposes.