Unveiling of the Carved Corbel of Her Majesty The Queen
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Ottawa, Thursday, December 9, 2010
It is an honour to be here, in the halls of the Senate, at the unveiling of this beautiful carving of Her Majesty The Queen.
In 2012, Canadians across the country, and indeed all people in the Commonwealth, will be celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. Today, we memorialize Her Majesty’s likeness in these halls, where she will join other Canadian kings and queens, including Queen Victoria, the only other monarch in Canadian history to celebrate 60 years as Queen of Canada.
It was a privilege to meet The Queen during her Royal Tour. But it was only after I was named governor general-designate that my wife, Sharon, and I travelled to Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, to sit down with The Queen for an in-depth discussion. It was an opportunity to get to know the role of the Crown, as well as the person I would be representing in Canada as governor general.
I would like to share with you some of my impressions. The Queen is a very warm individual with a thorough understanding of and love for Canada. Her Majesty went out of her way to treat us like family—we felt as though we were being welcomed into a close-knit unit that focuses outward, to make the world a better place.
I have always been an admirer of the Royal Family and of what they have done for our country, but it was during our meeting that I came to truly appreciate the majesty of The Queen.
There are always those who question the need for our country’s ties with the Crown. But I am reminded of the words of Robertson Davies, who said: “The Crown is the abiding and unshakeable element in government, politicians may come and go, but the Crown remains...[it] is the consecrated spirit of Canada.”
The monarchy will always have a role in our society because it is part of our history. The Crown helps to define who we are, where we came from and where we are going.
After our upcoming celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, our country will be anticipating another milestone, that of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, in 2017.
In leading up to that auspicious year, I have asked Canadians to share with me what they want in a smart and caring nation. I believe that part of this includes respecting, learning about and honouring our heritage—whether it is our Aboriginal heritage, our French heritage, or our heritage with the Crown.
Her Majesty once said: “I want the Crown in Canada to represent everything that is best and most admired in the Canadian ideal. I will continue to do my best to make it so during my lifetime, and I hope you will all continue to give me your help in this task.”
This carving of The Queen is a symbol of our ties to history; of our admiration for all Her Majesty has done for the country; and of our commitment to remember and to honour the role that the Crown plays on Parliament Hill, where democratic freedom is practised every day.