Diamond Jubilee: Canada To Mark Anniversary Of Queen's Elizabeth II's Succession To The Throne In A Big Way
TORONTO - When Princess Elizabeth succeeded to the British throne in 1952, Canada hailed her as the country's queen even before the declaration was issued in her homeland. Six decades later, royal watchers predict Canadian political and popular celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee will be among the most enthusiastic in the world.
Revived political interest in the monarchy, coupled with residual glow from last year's blast of royal star power, has whet the country's appetite for months of festivities honouring one of the longest reigns in the institution's history.
Royal commentator Rafal Heydel-Mankoo said Canada's long-standing love for its official head of state will also fan the flames of royal fervour in the coming months.
"It's been absolutely remarkable to see this resurgence of support and enthusiasm for the crown," Heydel-Mankoo said in a telephone interview from London. "I think that's a sign of maturity ... A mature nation doesn't tamper with a tried, tested and proved formula which has given Canada stability and good government."
Monday marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen's ascension to the British throne, which took place automatically with the death of her father King George VI.
Heydel-Mankoo said Canada's privy council hailed her as the new sovereign hours before any other realm, including the United Kingdom.
Her official coronation was held 16 months later to allow time for preparations and a period of mourning for the late king.
Worldwide celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee will begin on Feb. 6 and continue for four months, culminating in a lavish ceremony in London on the anniversary of the coronation.
Members of the royal family will fan out to various commonwealth countries to take part in global festivities.
Canada will play host to Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, in May, and will also mark the occasion through smaller local ceremonies in the coming months.
The Prince of Wales' visit is the third royal tour of Canada in as many years, following a glamorous nine-day sojourn by Prince William and his wife Kate last summer and a visit from the Queen herself in 2010.
Canada's regular presence on royal itineraries, Heydel-Mankoo said, is a clear sign of the country's place in the family's affections.
"In three successive years they've had the three biggest-ticket items in the royal family," he said. "I think that's clearly a sign of the regard with which the Canadian people are held."
Royal commentator Richard Berthelsen said Charles' May visit will be a lower-key affair than William and Kate's whirlwind tour, which saw crowds of several thousand strong descend on the newlyweds and shower them with praise.
Charles and Camilla lack the novelty and glamour associated with the younger generation, but will have a driving purpose to their agenda, he said.
"The Prince of Wales has been here many times since probably about 1970. Those visits to Canada have undergone various stages over the years," Berthelsen said. "It's going to be a tour that will have, in the background, the focus on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee."
Such a focus seems appropriate for a monarch who is enjoying the second-longest reign in British history and who has had a front row seat to many seminal Canadian moments of the past half-century.
The Queen attended the country's centennial in 1967, appeared at Canada's first Olympic games in Montreal eight years later, and has been present for numerous smaller celebrations over the years, Berthelsen said.
Her frequent visits have bred a familiarity that spans many generations, he added.
"For a lot of Canadians, I think she is sort of that great aunt figure who is in your family somewhere and who you like to see periodically ... Almost a third of the time the country's been in existence, she's been in this position," he said.
Even the monarchy's detractors acknowledge the Queen's reign deserves some acknowledgment.
Tom Freda, national director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, said commemorative ceremonies are entirely appropriate for a woman of such prominence in Canadian cultural and political tradition. But such ceremonies, he argues, should not come with the multimillion-dollar price-tag the federal government has committed to.
Ottawa has pledged $7.5 million to help fund four months worth of commemorative activities across the country, starting with flag-raising ceremonies in all provincial capitals on Monday morning.
The government will also award 60,000 Canadians jubilee medals for their dedication to community service in the coming weeks.
Freda said contributions to a commonwealth charity would be a more appropriate way of acknowledging the Queen's rule, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty.
"In light of these tough times when there are budget cutbacks everywhere and the government is pinching pennies and putting people out of work ... yet they feel it's necessary to put this amount of money into celebrating the Queen's reign," he said.
Heydel-Mankoo, however, feels the government's support for the Diamond Jubilee is a tribute to the characteristics that have made the Queen only the second monarch in British history to attain 60 years on the throne.
"The Queen's life has really been one of dedication to duty, of self-sacrifice and service," he said. "She took an oath when she became queen to dedicate her life to her peoples, and she's lived up to that expectation and shows no signs of letting that down."WILLIAM AND CATHERINE TOUR CANADA
The Royals Leave Canada
Will and Kate wave goodbye to Calgary as they conclude their royal Canadian tour.
The Royals Sign The Guest Book
William and Kate sign the guest book at the ENMAX Conservatory in Calgary with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, left, and Lt. Gov. Donald S. Ethell.
Kate Meets Frances Miller
The Duchess of Cambridge meets with Frances Miller as she prepares to leave Calgary with her husband to head to Los Angeles.
The Portraits Of Honour
Prince William and Catherine view the Portraits of Honour on display at their official departure ceremony in Calgary.
The Royals In The Conservatory
William and Catherine tour the ENMAX Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo.
Kate Arrives At The Zoo
The Duchess of Cambridge visits the ENMAX Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo.
The Royals And Stelmach
Will and Kate speak with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach at the ENMAX Conservatory in Calgary.
Will And Kate In Matching Hats
The Royals at the Calgary Stampede Parade.
Will and Kate wave to the crowd while at the Calgary Stampede parade.
The Royals Watch The RCMP
Will and Kate watch the RCMP march in the Calgary Stampede parade.
The Royals Watch The Parade
The Duke and Duchess watch the beginning of the Calgary Stampede parade.
The Duke Arrives
Prince William arrives in cowboy gear to the Calgary Stampede parade.
The Royals Push The Button
Will and Kate push a button to start the Calgary Stampede parade.
The Rodeo Shocks Kate
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watch a rodeo demonstration at the Calgary Stampede.
Kate And A Calgarian
The Duchess of Cambridge speaks with a little girl while at the Stampede.
The Duchess Receives Flowers
Catherine meets well-wishes and receives flowers at a Government Reception in Calgary.
The Government Reception
A view of the Government Reception at the BMO Centre in Calgary.
Kate Checks Her Hat
Will and Kate watch Stampede activities in Calgary at the BMO Centre.
Will Tips His Hat
Prince William during a speech at the Calgary Stampede.
The Royals At The BMO Centre
Will and Kate watch traditional Calgary Stampede activities.
Will Gets Down To Work
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, throws a barrel into the back of a chuckwagon during his visit to the Calgary Stampede on Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Calgary, Alberta.
Royal Tour Canada
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrive via stage coach for a reception at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Canada as they continue their Royal Tour of Canada Thursday, July 7, 2011.
The Royals And Harper
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, second from right, Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Laureen Harper, left, watch a child sheep ride event at the Stampede in Calgary, Alberta on Thursday, July 7, 2011.
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper watch dancers while attending a reception at the Calgary Stampede on Thursday, July 7, 2011 in Calgary, Alberta.
The Royals Go Western
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, wear their new Smithbilt cowboy hats as they watch a rodeo demonstration in Calgary, Alberta, July 7, 2011.
The Royals Wave To Admirers
Prince William and Kate after a tour of the 21st Century Research and Innovation Centre in Calgary.
Will Waves From The Car
Prince William waves from his car with Kate on the eighth day of their Canadian tour.
The Duke And Duchess Are Greeted
Prince William and Kate are greeted when arriving at 21st Century Research and Innovation Centre Calgary.
Kate Inspects A Mannequin
Kate follows her husbands lead and saves the life of a medical test mannequin at the University of Calgary.
Will And Kate Tour U of C
Prince William and Kate are shown how to save a life with a medical test mannequin at the University of Calgary's Ward of the 21st Century.
The Royals And RCMP In Calgary
Prince William and Catherine look at a RCMP officer after arriving in Calgary.
A Calgary Chinook?
Kate's hair doesn't agree with the wind as the Royals land in Calgary for the final stretch of their Canadian tour.
Will Meets Shy Calgarian
Prince William meets -- or tries to meet -- shy 6-year-old Diamond Marshall in Calgary.
Catherine Gets A Hug
Kate hugs 6-year-old Diamond Marshall in Calgary after arriving.
Kate Is Greeted
The Duchess meets with shy 6-year-old Diamond Marshall in Calgary.
Will, Kate And Flight Crew
The Royals get their photo taken with flight crew members as they arrive in Calgary.
Will Gets A White Hat
Prince William is presented with a white cowboy hat from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
The Royals Land In Calgary
The Royals land in Calgary for the last Canadian city on their tour of the country.
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pose for a photo with members of the Canadian Forces flight crew upon their arrival in Calgary, Alberta on Thursday, July 7, 2011.