Striking of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
Ottawa, Tuesday, December 6, 2011
It is an honour to be here at the Royal Canadian Mint at the striking of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
This medal will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s accession to the Throne, which takes place exactly two months from today.
In 2012, 60 000 deserving Canadians will receive this medal, those who have made significant contributions to Canada or to their community, or who have brought great credit to Canada abroad through their outstanding achievements. These Canadians will be of all ages, from all walks of life, and from a variety of fields.
What they all share, however, is a commitment to service—something age old and still extraordinarily precious—service to Canada, service to their community or service to our collective well-being.
The idea of service is embedded in the reign of Her Majesty. She has served the Crown and all the Commonwealth countries with steadfast devotion over the past six decades.
During her last visit to Canada, Her Majesty expressed the sentiment that she was “home,” an assertion that was shared by so many Canadians who welcomed The Queen with such warmth, as well as by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their recent Royal Tour.
In our constitutional monarchy, the Crown plays a fundamental role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Canadians and our rule of law. As governor general, I am honoured to act on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, who, as head of the Royal Family, is the personal embodiment of the Crown.
Of course, our country has already celebrated a diamond jubilee once in its history.
In 1897, Canada marked the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria. A select few Canadians were even given the commemorative medal struck for the occasion, notably Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
In Canada, thousands of children took to the streets to celebrate the life of The Queen. The chair of the local school board in Halifax noted that it was important for children to know their history and heritage, and to be aware of what the Crown had done for our country, because, in his words: “we would have them emulate their virtues in their devotion to country and in their willingness to do and to sacrifice for the good of the people.”
The tradition of giving commemorative medals to wear began 10 years earlier with the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Since then, commemorative medals have been struck at major occasions related to the Crown, including, most recently in 2002, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.
Today, and throughout 2012, we celebrate the life and reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who, like Queen Victoria, has dedicated herself to her country and to the people around the world who recognize Her Majesty The Queen as their head of State.
At this time, it is also fitting that we acknowledge the Royal Canadian Mint’s inimitable craftsmanship and the Canadian Heraldic Authority’s splendid design.
I thank the Diamond Jubilee Committee’s members, as well as those at the Chancellery of Honours and Canadian Heritage, who have put great efforts into preparing the celebrations for this momentous anniversary. From the medal to planning the activities taking place throughout the year, they deserve our gratitude for their special services.
With the symbolic first striking of the medal today, we show that we are ready for the year-long celebration, marking the life of our monarch. Thus, we cast our regard back with admiration over an historic reign and a life devoted to the concept of service.