Queen Elizabeth II’s death leaves questions about vacated military patronage posts – National

Queen Elizabeth’s death has left more than a dozen Canadian Armed Forces units without a patron, leading one expert to wonder how such appointments will be filled in the future.

The Ministry of Defense says the Queen has not only served as the longest-serving commander-in-chief of the Canadian military, but has also held honorary posts with 18 individual military units.

These included serving as Captain-General of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, Air Commander-in-Chief of the Air Reserve and Colonel-in-Chief for the engineering and legal branches of the military and 14 regiments.

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But while the title of commander-in-chief of the military automatically passed to King Charles after her death last week, officials say those patronage positions did not and are now vacant.

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That opens the door to a debate within the Canadian armed forces, says Professor Philippe Lagasse of Carleton University, one of Canada’s leading experts on the interplay between the military, Parliament and the Crown.

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“Where do you go? Who are they going to? Will there be less tendency to grant them to members of the royal family?” Lagasse said. “There are questions about whether it’s still good practice to do this.”

Many military units are closely associated with other members of the royal family, including the king. Prior to his accession to the throne, the then Prince Charles was appointed lieutenant general in the Canadian Army and colonel of seven regiments.

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These appointments are personal and become vacant upon death.

Patrons are “regarded as guardians of the regiment’s traditions and history, promote the regiment’s identity and ethos, and act as advisors to the commanding officer on virtually everything except operations,” according to the Department of Defense.

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While this also applies to honorary colonels, royal appointments are made by the monarch and usually involve members of the royal family. Honorary colonels, who are lower in rank, are recommended by units and include prominent Canadians or veterans.

There was an exception to the tradition of having members of the royal family as colonels when former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson took over such a position in the Canadian Light Infantry from Princess Patricia in 2007.

The tradition has been called into question more recently when the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Andrew, resigned his honorary commands in three Canadian military units amid a scandal surrounding his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Units benefit from influential patrons as it raises their profile and morale and encourages public support, Lagasse said, “but is that still the royal family? Maybe not.”

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The Queen’s death created waves for the military beyond the vacated patronage posts, particularly changes in terminology. This includes designating naval ships as “His Majesty’s Canadian Ship” rather than “Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship”.

The Department of Defense says most of these changes are automatic as a result of legislation and will be officially updated in publications and elsewhere over time. Others, such as B. the commissioning of scrolls for officers, will also be updated.

One thing that will take more time is updating the military awards and decorations, which will continue to bear the late Queen’s image and coat of arms until King Charles has signed his own effigy and royal cypher.

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A senior military officer speaking in the background said the same thing happened when awards bearing King George’s image were still being presented some two years after his death and Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1952.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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