Make Prince Harry our king, say Canadian monarchists
Even Canada’s most ardent monarchists accept that the 2,300-mile gulf between London and the Queen’s largest realm is something of a stumbling block.
Having a head of state who only visits the country every two or three years plays right into the hands of republicans, after all.
But as they prepare for the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge later this week, royalists in Canada have come up with a novel solution to the age-old problem: install Prince Harry as their king.
They want the Prince, who is third in line to the throne, to set up home in the capital, Ottawa, to give the Royal family a permanent presence and to silence those who believe the country should have an elected head of state.
Etienne Boisvert, the Quebec provincial spokesman for the Monarchist League of Canada, pointed out that the Royal family was “an institution that knows how to reinvent itself” and believes now may be the right time for a radical change.
“Prince Harry, who has virtually no chance of becoming king, could set himself up here and found a Canadian branch of the Royal family,” he said.
“Or the future king could rotate – six months in Canada, six in Australia, six in London.”
Mr Boisvert, as a French-speaking Quebecois, is the exception rather than the rule in a province where most francophones are indifferent to the Royal family and many are openly hostile.
The Duke and Duchess have been warned they are likely to encounter vocal protests from republicans and French-speaking separatists when they visit Quebec on Sunday.
The Quebecois Resistance Network (RRQ) is planning a “William, Get Lost” protest to disturb the visit, having said the royal couple’s presence in Quebec is designed to “offend and humiliate” separatists.
Mr Boisvert, however, sees the Royal family as a unifying force in a country that has strong regional differences.
“The concepts of liberty and democracy are fundamentally British,” he said. “They brought a parliamentary system of government, democracy and the doctrine of individual rights to North America.”
Nor is Mr Boisvert alone in his dreams of installing members of the Royal family as permanent representatives in Commonwealth realms.
Other members of the Monarchist League, which has 10,000 members in Canada, have discussed the idea of allocating a member of the Royal family to each of the 16 Commonwealth realms, which also include Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and Belize.
Eugene Berezovsky, another member of the League, admitted that a Canadian court of Prince Harry was “not particularly likely” but suggested a more realistic goal would be to give members of the Royal family Canadian titles.
“In the same way that Prince Charles is Prince of Wales, the goal would be to give senior members of the Royal family titles relating to Canadian regions,” he said. “It was suggested before, when the new province of Nunavut was created in 1999, and it’s something we’d like to see.”
Although the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expected to be warmly welcomed by the vast majority of Canadians, the future of the monarchy in Canada is by no means certain, with some opinion polls suggesting two thirds of the population would prefer the country to be a republic.
Two years ago, when the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall toured Canada, demonstrations in Montreal escalated into violent clashes between protestors and riot police.
And in 1964 police charged a crowd of students and separatists protesting against the Queen’s visit to Quebec in an incident still known as Truncheon Saturday.
Mr Berezovsky, however, said the royal couple could expect a “fantastic” reception, adding: “They are extremely popular here and their wedding was a TV sensation, so we are expecting record crowds on the streets.”
A spokesman for St James’s Palace declined to comment on the suggestion that Prince Harry should set up his own court in Ottawa.