The Second Elizabethan Age Draws to a Close

The British earlier this year celebrated the Platinum Jubilee earlier this year by planting trees to form part of “The Queen’s Green Canopy.”  The venerable oak represents strength, endurance, and continuity and seemed the most fitting way to extend the Queen’s Green Canopy on this side of the Atlantic. I selected a stout little Red Oak from Peter Knippel Garden Centre on Labour Day and received word around around 10:50 am Eastern Daylight Time this morning that it will arrive tomorrow. I had intended to plant this mighty oak this weekend in celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and long glorious reign, but this oak shall now arrive under altogether different circumstances.

I shall have to plant this oak in commemoration of our late beloved Sovereign Elizabeth II and her remarkable reign instead, for the Second Elizabethan Age ended on 8 September 2022. She was the only sovereign that most of us and most of our parents have ever known. The oak, now small, holds the potential to grow strong and to endure for centuries, like the monarchy itself. The Palace has announced the ascension to the throne of His Majesty King Charles III. We shall say for the first time in 70 years God Save the King.

The British turned the Platinum Jubilee into an occasion to plant trees. This official commemorative plaque shall now mark a Red Oak in Ottawa.

The Red Oak in the foreground will soon commemorate Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


Succession to the throne happens automatically. The Prince of Wales has now become King of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Soloman Islands, and Tuvalu. The Governments of these 15 Realms will announce by proclamation the demise of the Crown and the ascension to the throne of our new King, by whatever regnal name His Majesty has chosen. But this proclamation merely acknowledges that the demise of the Crown has happened; it does not constitute a legal instrument promulgating the accession of our new King. The accession of a new sovereign shows the continuity of the Crown but marks a sad occasion and period of mourning. The coronation usually occurs about one year after the death of the previous sovereign.

The current Parliament of Canada and all the provincial legislatures shall remain intact and survive the demise of the Crown, and the oaths of office-holders under the Crown of Canada carry over from Elizabeth II to Charles III. All legislative and executive and judicial authorities carry on.

The Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada explains how the Government of Canada responded to the last demise of the Crown, over 70 years ago in February 1952. Perhaps it will respond likewise in 2022.

George VI died on 6 February 1952. That same day, the Government of Canada issued a proclamation announcing the demise of the late sovereign, George VI, and the accession of a new sovereign, Elizabeth II. The Queen’s Privy Council for Canada – not merely cabinet of the governing St. Laurent Ministry, but Privy Councillors outside of the St. Laurent Ministry– convened later that day to approve of the Order-in-Council for the aforesaid proclamation of the Administration of the Government of Canada. (The previous Governor General Viscount Alexander had left official on 28 January 1952, not long before the demise of the Crown). In other words, the Privy Council itself – not merely cabinet – advised the Administrator to issue the Order-in-Council acknowledging the start of Her Majesty’s long reign. Affairs of state transcend the confines of political parties alone.

On 7 February 1952, the Government of Canada advised the Administration by Order-in-Council to issue a proclamation declaring 15 February 1952 a “public holiday to be observed as a day of general mourning by all persons throughout Canada.” We then held a “National Ceremony of Mourning by the People of Canada for His Late Majesty King George VI” on that public holiday.  Canada likewise sent representatives to the state funeral of George VI held on 15 February in London, including the Canadian High Commission, Governor General-designate (Vincent Massey), and the Ministers of External Affairs and National Defence.

The House of Commons had scheduled to begin its fall session on 19 September 2022, but the Speaker might now convene it earlier so that the Prime Minister can move a joint loyal address of loyalty and sympathy to our new King.

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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). Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Second Elizabethan Age Draws to a Close

  1. Adam Dodek says:

    Thank you for your excellent analysis James.


  2. Rand Dyck says:



I invite reasonable questions and comments; all others will be prorogued or dissolved.

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