The passing of Queen Elizabeth II and ascension of King Charles III impacts Canadians in interesting ways.
A lot of people will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 8, 2022 when they learned of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.
Her Majesty’s death does not hold the same meaning for everyone of course. Some people will be profoundly touched while some will be mostly interested in the historical significance of the longest reign of a Monarch in Commonwealth history. Others’ feelings and interest will largely remain unaffected.
No matter our opinions and reactions, this important event will affect every Canadian’s daily life as we experience a period of transition when it comes to naming titles, laws and institutions. Familiar nomenclatures may become somewhat awkward and perhaps even strange for some time. So, how do things change now that King Charles III has ascended the throne? Let’s look at what will and will not change.
What about buildings, institutions and infrastructures?
This part is simple. Buildings and offices displaying an official photograph of the Queen will have to replace it with an official photo of the new King. Watch for the photo to be available soon to download from the Government of Canada’s website. In the meantime, photos of the Queen can be draped in black. Commissioned artwork featuring Her Majesty does not have to be replaced.
You will not be driving down the KCIII highway! Infrastructures like schools and highways named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II will keep their names. And institutions holding Royal designation in the name of the Queen, such as the Royal Alberta Museum, will also keep that designation.
What about things in my everyday life?
Your stamps with the Queen’s image will still take your correspondence to its destination! And do not worry about your money – it will still be good! Of course, new currency honouring the King will be printed and with time the currency bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s image will move out of circulation. (Collectors beware!)
If you are planning to travel soon, your passport will still be valid even if it is issued in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. The wording will change when you renew your passport. But in the meantime: Bon voyage!
What about oaths and honours?
No changes are expected on that front. New Canadians swear an oath to the Crown so their citizenship status does not change nor do they have to swear a new oath. People who swear an oath as part of their employment will not have to swear another one either. Medals and national honours presented to individuals obviously retain their validity!
What happens with the justice system and political appointments?
You may have already noticed on their website that the Court of Queen’s Bench (QB) has changed to the Court of King’s Bench (KB). Section 2.1 of the Court of Queen’s Bench Act was added in 2019 to clarify that the court is named the Court of Queen’s Bench during the reign of a Queen and the Court of King’s Bench during the reign of a King.
If you have an application or matter before the QB, do not fret. You do not need to re-file your documents. We are in a transition period where the Court will still accept forms referencing the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Court has not yet announced a deadline to complete the transition.
Judges, police officers, Members of the Legislative Assembly, mayors, and more will not have to re-take their oaths to swear allegiance to the new King. Section 56 of the Judicature Act allows these functions to continue as if the Queen had not passed so that the running of important institutions is not interrupted.
Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor remains in place because their oath is sworn in reference to the sovereign’s heirs and successors as well.
Finally, all documents issued by the Queen’s Printer remain valid. Though the name has now changed to Alberta King’s Printer.
A Point in Time
A lot of us may be glued to our screens watching history in the making – and perhaps binge watching “The Crown” once more. And our lives will move forward with some adjustments and a list of new vocabulary.
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The information in this article was correct at time of publishing. The law may have changed since then. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNow or the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.
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