The Monarchist League of Canada’s Flip-Flop on Succession to the Crown

The Monarchist League of Canada. "Myths About the Monarchy" [accessed 13 January 2013].

The Monarchist League of Canada. “Myths About the Monarchy” [accessed 13 January 2013].

The Monarchist League of Canada includes a helpful section on its official website dedicated to debunking, in a concise manner, some of the common myths and misconceptions toward constitutional monarchy.

In “Myths About the Monarchy,” the Monarchist League offers a brief explanation on why the succession will not skip Charles, the Prince of Wales, and pass directly from Queen Elizabeth II to the Duke of Cambridge. Former British Prime Minister John Major once derisively referred to this notion as “newspaper sophistry.”

Generally, I agree with this explanation — particularly the part where the Monarchist League correctly acknowledges that succession forms part of the Constitution of Canada, and would thus require a constitutional amendment to alter. Practically speaking, all 16 Realms would indeed have to pass legislation or constitutional amendments promulgating an act of abdication to their respective Crowns in order to preserve the Personal Union.

[…] two factual points need underlining to those who favour a skipped succession. First, a change in the succession would involve opening up the constitution with all the debate and mischief attending it—and doing so in all 16 Commonwealth Realms. There is unlikely to be the political will to do this for what might prove unsuccessful and, in the end, prejudicial to the monarchy.

Admittedly, the Monarchist League probably hasn’t updated this section of its website in a few years, given that it omits any reference to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But since the Monarchist League has argued, correctly, that an abdication in the succession to the Crown of Canada could only be promulgated by an amendment to the Constitution of Canada, then I can only surmise that the Monarchist League would, logically, also agree with my argument that the Parliament of Canada alone does not possess the authority to “signal its agreement” to the British Succession to the Crown Bill and thus bypass the Constitution. An instrument of abdication engages succession just as much as replacing male-preference primogeniture with equal primogeniture and repealing the penalty of marriage to a Catholic do.

If, however, the League agrees with the Harper government’s rationale (as reported by the British House of Commons Library and the Canadian Privy Council Office) that succession falls outside the Constitution of Canada and therefore does not engage any constitutional amending formula, I would be very curious to know why the League has reversed its stance. After all, the League touts itself as “ha[ving] gained a national reputation as the leading voice of intelligent monarchical opinion in Canada.”


The Monarchist League has now officially come up in support of the Harper Government’s unconstitutional bill to “assent to” the British law on succession. The organization has dutifully supported and propagated all the Government’s talking points on the issue and has now even updated itself website accordingly. Thankfully, I saved a record of the about-face. At this point, it is clear that the organization has changed its position from a correct and constitutionally consistent interpretation to an unconstitutional, politically expedient interpretation in order to support a Government that has treated the organization well — even if that means upholding the manifestly absurd. The Monarchist League has become a willing collaborator in the Crown’s demise and, ironically, the greatest ally of the republican movement in Canada.

The Monarchist League: taking the “constitutional” out of “constitutional monarchy.”

The Monarchist League of Canada. “Myths About the Monarchy” [accessed 31 January 2013].

The Monarchist League of Canada. “Myths About the Monarchy” [accessed 31 January 2013].

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About J.W.J. Bowden

My area of academic expertise lies in Canadian political institutions, especially the Crown, political executive, and conventions of Responsible Government; since 2011, I have made a valuable contribution to the scholarship by having been published and cited extensively. I’m also a contributing editor to the Dorchester Review and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law.
This entry was posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Succession (Sovereign) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Monarchist League of Canada’s Flip-Flop on Succession to the Crown

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  12. DL says:

    The MLC will not contradict the government – they like the perques they get (ie invitations to events etc) and don’t want to risk losing them.


    • Exactly. The Monarchist League doesn’t concern itself with truth, but merely supporting a government that has treated the organization well — even if that means upholding the manifestly absurd.


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  17. Cal Rogers says:

    It certainly appears that the Monarchist League has been caught by its own words, and your argument appears sound. I doubt they will thank you for pointing this out since they are unlikely to welcome dissenting opinion and certainly don’t like having contradictions pointed out.


  18. Rand Dyck says:

     Interesting, as usual! Maybe you should do a blog


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