The King and I
When Elizabeth II died last September, I declared in this space that I was a monarchist. My fealty continues to her son and heir, Charles III. I thought that once Her Highness died, there would be a groundswell of acrimonious debate in Canada about ending our links to the Royal Family. But even as Coronation Day approaches next week, on May 6, there has hardly been a peep on the topic until a recent Angus Reid poll showed that 60 percent of Canadians are against recognizing Charles as King. A bare majority, 52 percent, don’t want Canada to continue as a constitutional monarchy. Still, whatever the numbers, any public protest has been puny.
Charles certainly has had a sufficient apprenticeship for the job, spending 64 years as Prince of Wales and heir apparent. The previous record-holder of the title, Prince of Wales, became Edward VII in 1901 after 60 years in the saddle. I visit “Bertie,” as he was known during his lifetime, in his current saddle – an equestrian statue – in Queen’s Park on my regular walks. I always offer a military salute, or as much as I can muster as a civilian who never served except as an army cadet for two years in high school.
Charles has unquestionably paid attention to Canada over the years. He first visited in 1970 and has been seventeen times since including more trips to northern Canada than very few of us citizens ever make.
I have a related Royal worry. A statue of Elizabeth II that has been in storage for six years will soon be unveiled in a prize location in front of the Ontario Legislature. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the statue and its pedestal are seven metres tall and the whole thing will sit on a three-metre granite plinth that will mean the total installation will rise ten metres. That’s more than thirty feet, or the equivalent of about three floors in an office building.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to the man in charge of the grounds, the Honourable Ted Arnott, speaker of the Legislative Assembly, expressing my concern that the whole contrivance could look monstrous and totally out of proportion to all of the other statues. I await his reply. After all, someone’s got to defend the memory of our Queen.