The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

Governor General

Royal Family

Royal Crown

How do I write to the Governor General? [top]

If you wish to write to the Governor General, you may address the letter to:

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0A1

(no postage necessary)

To address a letter to both Their Excellencies:

Their Excellencies
The Right Honourable David Johnston
Governor General of Canada
and Mrs. Sharon Johnston

Please note that general comments and opinions may not receive a response. Correspondence that is commercial in nature or constitutes “spam,” or that contains obscene, derogatory, threatening or abusive language, will not receive a response.

How can I obtain a birthday or anniversary message from the Governor General? [top]

The Governor General sends messages to Canadians who are 90 years of age or older and to couples who have been married for 50 years or more. These are issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.

If the anniversary or birthday has already taken place, the message from the Governor General may be backdated up to 12 months.

To request a message, please fill out the birthday and wedding anniversary Request Form (PDF) and follow the instructions.

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Message from the Governor General Requirement
Anniversary Messages
(legally married Canadian couples)
50th anniversary (minimum)
Interval: 5 years*
Birthday Messages
(all Canadians)
90th birthday (minimum)
Interval: 5 years*

*Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. Forms are accepted by email.

How can I obtain a congratulatory message from the Governor General for a special occasion? [top]

Every day, across our country, Canadians celebrate special occasions in their communities, in small towns and big cities alike. The Governor General sends messages of congratulations to individuals marking a significant milestone in their lives and to organizations hosting a variety of events. Our message criteria are outlined below.

To request a message, please fill out the special occasion Request Form (PDF) and follow the instructions. Forms should be accompanied by a covering letter on official letterhead where applicable.

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Message to IndividualsRequirement
Religious (i.e. priests, nuns, ministers, rabbis, mullahs, gurus)
Minimum: 25 years
Families Family settlement in Canada
Minimum: 100 years
Family Reunions  
Volunteers Minimum: 20 years
Individual Honours Canadians honoured by an organization with an award or at a tribute dinner
(not applicable to sitting politicians)
Retirement Minimum 35 years, at the request of the employer
Note: Retirement messages are not given to members of the military, or to police, fire or other emergency services personnel, as they are recognized through the Canadian Honours System.
Message to OrganizationsRequirement
Religious Institutions i.e. churches, synagogues and other places of worship
Minimum: 100 years
Commercial Organizations For-profit organizations (i.e. private industry, companies, small businesses and unions)
Minimum: 50 years
National or International Conferences Being hosted in Canada and/or by Canadian organizations
Fundraising Events For registered Canadian charities
National Service Organizations, Clubs and Societies And their local chapters (i.e. Canadian Legion, Knights of Columbus, Optimist Club, Salvation Army, special-interest club, fraternal or academic organizations)
Minimum: 25 years
Not-for-profit Community groups i.e. Meals on Wheels, church or hospital auxiliaries, shelters, food banks, awareness groups
Minimum: 25 years
City, Town, Village Minimum: 100 years
Municipal Institutions (i.e. school, university, hospital, fire hall)
Minimum: 75 years

Guidelines for requesting, receiving and publishing messages from the governor general

  • Requests must be submitted no later than SIX WEEKS prior to the event or printing deadline.
  • If you have already submitted a request, please DO NOT send a duplicate by mail, fax or email.
  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II does not send messages to individuals or organizations marking a milestone occasion. (Please see Birthday and Wedding Anniversary.)
  • A maximum of two (2) messages will be provided to the same organization in a single calendar year.
  • Messages requests for individuals, families and milestones will be accepted at five year intervals.
  • Please identify if you require an electronic and/or print version of your message.
  • Messages cannot be altered in any way without prior written approval from the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.
  • Messages are written in support of a designated event. They are not intended, nor can they be used, for any other purpose.
  • The language of the message must not be changed without permission. Translations into French or English are the responsibility of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Please advise the Correspondence section of any errors or omissions.

How can I get a copy of the official photo of the Governor General? [top]

To request an official photo of the Governor General, go to gg.ca/officialphotos.

How do we invite the Governor General to our event? [top]

Each year, the Governor General and Her Excellency Sharon Johnston attend special events, ceremonies and celebrations across the country, both together and separately. If you would like them to attend your event, you can invite them by writing a letter (addressed to the Governor General) that includes the following information:

  • background information on the event and/or organization
  • the date and time of the event (and whether these are flexible), as well as the venue
  • the number of people expected to participate
  • the role you would like the Governor General to play, if any (e.g., speech, award presentation, etc.)
  • name and telephone number of a contact person (and fax if available)

Keep in mind that Their Excellencies’ programs are planned five to six months in advance.

Please send your invitation either by e-mail to invitation@gg.ca, through our submission form, or by regular mail (no postage necessary) to

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
c/o Program Planning
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A1

In order to avoid duplicates, please choose only one method to submit your request.

All invitations are reviewed by a program officer, who will contact you if any further information is needed. Invitations are then presented to Their Excellencies and decisions are made based on their availability, confirmed program of engagements, travel requirements and other factors.

If you have any questions, please contact the Program Planning section through invitation@gg.ca.

How should I address Their Excellencies? [top]

The full title of the Governor General is:

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada

The title of the Governor General’s spouse is:

Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, C.C.

The salutation is: Excellencies

How do we submit a request for viceregal patronage? [top]

The governor general plays a key role in promoting national identity by supporting and promoting Canadian values, diversity, inclusion, culture and heritage. As such, the governor general is patron of many community, charitable, military and cultural associations, as well as public service organizations, lending them vital support and recognition for their outstanding contributions to society.

Organizations that are granted patronage by the current governor general, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, and/or his wife, Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, are chosen based on long-established criteria, to which groups should adhere when submitting a request for patronage: 

  • have aims and objectives that are aligned with the role and responsibilities of the governor general or his personal themes and interests
  • be national in scope
  • have active programs which are implemented on an annual basis
  • be financially responsible

Organizations that do not qualify under these criteria may be considered under a “grandfather clause”:

  • if the organization received patronage on or before 1960; and
  • the period of viceregal patronage has remained unbroken since the time it was granted.

All organizations must re-apply for patronage at the beginning of each new mandate. Please note that patronage does not guarantee the governor general’s involvement in, or attendance at, events being held by host organizations.

To learn more about the vision and three pillars of the Governor General’s mandate, organizations may wish to read His Excellency’s Installation Speech, of October 1, 2010.

If your organization would like to forward a request for patronage under the mandate of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston and/or Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, kindly submit your request by mail, with supporting documentation, including a brief history of your organization and its objectives; details on its sources of funding; a list of other current patrons (if any) and/or members of the board of directors; a short financial report; and any other pertinent information.

 Please submit your written request to the address indicated below, with the enveloped clearly marked with “ATTENTION: Viceregal Patronage”:

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada

or

Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, C.C.

or

Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston

Rideau Hall
Attention: Viceregal Patronage
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A1

Should you have any questions or require assistance, please contact us at patronage@gg.ca or by telephone at 613-993-8200 or toll-free 1-800-465-6890.

How do I nominate someone for an honour or award? [top]

The Governor General recognizes many Canadians for their achievements in a wide variety of fields. To nominate a worthy individual for one of the awards under the Canadian Honours System, please click here.

How do I write to the Royal Family? [top]

If you wish to send your best wishes and pledges of loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen, you may forward your correspondence to:

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
United Kingdom

The letter should be addressed to Her Majesty The Queen

The salutation is: Your Majesty

Please note that packages and gifts of any kind cannot be accepted and will be returned to sender immediately.

For correspondence relating to issues of Canadian concern, Her Majesty defers to the Governor General, in his role as a representative of the Crown. For most topics, please address your enquiries to:

Correspondence
Policy, Program and Protocol Branch
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

All enquiries pertaining to the Royal Family or to the use of the word “Royal,” to honorary appointments of members of the Royal Family to Canadian regiments, or to Royal visits, Royal Patronages should be sent to Ms. Shelagh Cimpaye, Special Advisor and Corporate Secretary, Office of the Secretary the Governor General, at the address above (1-800-465-6890).

How can I obtain a birthday or anniversary message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? [top]

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sends messages to Canadians who are 100 years of age or older and to couples who have been married for 60 years or more. These are issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.

If the anniversary or birthday has already taken place, the message from The Queen may be backdated up to 6 months.

To request a message, please fill out the birthday and wedding anniversary Request Form (PDF) and follow the instructions.

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Message from The QueenRequirement
Anniversary Messages
(legally married Canadian couples)
60th anniversary (minimum)
Interval: 5 years*
Birthday Messages
(all Canadians)
100th birthday (minimum)
Interval: and every year thereafter*

*Requests for message from The Queen must be accompanied by proof of marriage/birth. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. Forms are accepted by email.

How can I get a copy of the official photo of Her Majesty The Queen? [top]

To download the official Canadian portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, visit the Department of Canadian Heritage website. To order the portrait, please call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

How should I address a member of the Royal Family? [top]

When meeting a member of the Royal Family, many people wish to observe tradition, though there are no obligatory codes of behaviour. Traditionally, for men, a neck bow (from the head only) will suffice; for women, a small curtsy. One can also shake hands with a member of the Royal Family only if the member reaches out first.

The correct formal address on presentation to The Queen is “Your Majesty” and then “Ma'am” for all subsequent address. For other female members of the Royal Family: “Your Royal Highness” and then subsequently, “Ma'am”. For male members of the Royal Family: “Your Royal Highness” and then subsequently, “Sir”.

How do I submit a request for Royal Patronage? [top]

Organizations seeking such patronage are requested to write to our Office. We will, in turn, forward the submission to the Canadian Secretary to The Queen for review and consideration. Should the analysis prove to be in favour of the proposal going forward, our Office is notified and the request is then transmitted to the Royal Household in London for final consideration and, hopefully, approval.

Requests for Royal patronage must be submitted to:

Ms. Shelagh Cimpaye
Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

What are the criteria for receiving Royal Patronage? [top]

During the more than six decades of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, numerous Canadian organizations have been granted Royal patronage by the Sovereign and other members of the Royal Family—a very personal mark of both recognition and support. Therefore, having the right to carry Royal patronage is a tremendous honour that must be seen as being truly warranted, based on significant contributions to the betterment of Canada and Canadian society.  Interested parties are requested to develop a detailed submission that fully addresses or confirms the validity of the five points of criteria as listed below. 

Criteria for seeking Royal patronage:

The association / organization / entity must

  • Possess a clearly stated mandate that encompasses specific and defined goals and objectives in service to others;
  • Be able to provide examples of ongoing, annual programming that speaks to such public engagement through specific activities and events;
  • Demonstrate a proven track record of sustained public service on a national (or regional) basis through specific examples;
  • Be in existence and functioning as an entity on an uninterrupted basis for a minimum of five years; and
  • Have documented evidence that confirms financial solvency and effective / acceptable standards of organizational management.

Each request will be carefully examined by both our Office and the Canadian Secretary to The Queen.

How do I submit a request for Royal Designation? [top]

Each request will be carefully examined by both our Office and the Canadian Secretary to The Queen. Should the criteria be met based on a thorough review, final approval would be sought from Buckingham Palace.

Requests for Royal designation must be submitted to:

Ms. Shelagh Cimpaye
Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

What are the criteria for receiving Royal Designation? [top]

The granting of the use of the prefix “Royal” to Canadian associations, organizations and other entities is a personal prerogative of Her Majesty The Queen as Queen of Canada. Usage of the prefix “Royal” is therefore a tremendous honour that must be seen as being truly warranted, based on significant contributions to the betterment of Canada and Canadian society.

Interested parties are requested to develop a detailed submission that fully addresses or confirms the validity of the five points of criteria as listed below.

Criteria for seeking Royal Designation 
The association/organization/entity must

  1. Possess a sustained record of service/accomplishment to the wider community that is well known, recognized and seen as pre-eminent in its field—a record worthy of royal recognition;
  2. Have a well-defined mandate in an established discipline (e.g. the arts, humanities, science and technology, volunteerism, education, philanthropy, community service, etc.) that corresponds to a reach that is at least regional in scope
    (Note: consideration will only be given to recreation/athletic organizations in exceptional circumstances);
  3. Enjoy a long-standing and verifiable record of service/accomplishment that covers a minimum of 25 years;
  4. Be duly registered as a non-profit entity under the terms and conditions of the Income Tax Act; and
  5. Have a well-defined and effective administrative structure as well as a current, verifiable state of sound finances.

Can I name a building, park, etc., after a member of the Royal Family? [top]

Many of the requests received to use the name of Her Majesty The Queen or of a member of the Royal Family are for buildings, parks or other geographical features, particularly for one which is being officially opened during a visit to Canada by a specific member of the Royal Family.

Prior to Royal Visits, there are frequently requests to name scholarships or bursaries after a visiting member of the Royal Family. For example, several such requests were made in 2011, prior to the visit to Canada of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge. The procedure is similar to that adopted for requests to name geographical features or buildings in honour of various members of the Royal Family. In the case of scholarships or bursaries, it is important to ascertain that the necessary funds are in place prior to submitting these requests for approval and that definite criteria have been established for these awards.

How do I submit a request to use the name of a Member of the Royal Family? [top]

In order to apply for the use of a Royal Family Member's name, certain criteria must be fulfilled:

  • The building or facilities should be completed or almost completed at the time of the request.
  • There should be no other building or park of a similar nature bearing the same royal name in the near vicinity.
  • The application should include a detailed description of the feature being named in honour of the Royal Family, including details about its facilities and costs.
  • A photograph of the completed building or park should accompany the application.

Once the request is received, our Office will ensure there is sufficient information provided to enable preparation of a positive or negative recommendation in concert with the Canadian Secretary to The Queen. Our Office sends all positive recommendations to Buckingham Palace or to the appropriate Royal Household for review.

Should all criteria be fulfilled, a request may be submitted and addressed to:

Ms. Shelagh Cimpaye
Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

How can I obtain a ticket to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace? [top]

Each summer, at least three Garden Parties are hosted by The Queen at Buckingham Palace and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. These events are normally attended by more than 30 000 people. With tea, cakes and sprawling gardens, these are among the most relaxed and informal of the Royal Events. The tradition began in the 1860s during the reign of Queen Victoria. People from around the world and all walks of life attend these parties.

Guests are invited on the recommendation of a large number of national and international organizations which submit lists on a pre-arranged quota. For example, governments, military units, the diplomatic corps and various charities all have quotas for nominations, thus ensuring that a representative cross-section of the population is invited.

The attire for the Garden Parties is morning dress or business suits for men, and afternoon dress, usually with hats or fascinators, for women. National dress and uniforms are also often worn.

Applicants requesting tickets for the Royal Garden Parties should

  • Be Canadian citizens;
  • Have a Canadian passport; and
  • Be over the age of 18.

As many as four applicants may be included on one application form.

All requests to attend one of The Queen's Garden Parties should be forwarded to the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom, in London, which is responsible for satisfying the security requirements set for Canadians attending these events. All applicants will be required to complete a form supplied by the Canadian High Commission in the early part of the new year.

Contact ldn.publicaffairs@international.gc.ca to apply.

How can I obtain a ticket for the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade? [top]

Trooping the Colour (The Queen’s Birthday Parade) is a military parade held in June of each year in celebration of the Sovereign's birthday. More than 1 400 officers and troops, with approximately 400 musicians from the Household Division's massed bands, participate. One foot guard regiment is selected each year to troop their colour at the Birthday Parade.

Canadians wishing to obtain tickets for The Queen's Birthday Parade must submit their request through the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom, in London at ldn.publicaffairs@international.gc.ca. The application deadline is in February of each year; please check their website for the specific date.

Additionally, two dress rehearsals of the Birthday Parade, known as the Major General's and Colonel's reviews, are held in the weeks leading up to the event and are open to the public for viewing. Applications for tickets must be submitted in writing between January 1 and February 28 to the Brigade Major:

Brigade Major
HQ Household Division
Horse Guards
Whitehall
London 
SW1A 2AX

By mid-March, you will be notified if your application was successful and informed if payment is requested. Ticket prices for these events are as follows:

  • Trooping the Colour: £30.00 (approximately $60.00 CAD) each
  • Colonel’s Review: £10.00 (approximately $20.00 CAD) each
  • Major General's Review: Free of charge

What are the criteria to receive permission to use the Royal Crown? [top]

Agencies of the federal, provincial/territorial government, and law enforcement bodies at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels may seek permission for the use of the Royal Crown in their emblems.

It is rare for a private organization (such as an association, a learned society, an educational institution, etc.) to be eligible to use the Royal Crown. However, organizations with Royal designation or those that can demonstrate a close and direct connection with the Sovereign over a period of time may be considered for permission to use the Royal Crown.

For detailed questions about eligibility, please contact the chief herald of Canada (see below).

Who is entitled to use the Royal Crown as an emblem? [top]

Each new use of the Royal Crown, whether on its own or as part of another emblem, requires the permission of Her Majesty The Queen. The granting of such permission is thus a very special honour that indicates a close association with the Sovereign.

The Canadian Armed Forces use the Royal Crown in certain rank insignia. Viceregal offices historically use it on certain objects.

Public law enforcement agencies, departments and agencies of the federal and provincial governments, and Canadian organizations (such as associations, societies, educational bodies, etc.) that have a close, direct and verifiable association with the Sovereign may seek permission to use the Royal Crown as part of their granted heraldic emblems.

The Royal Crown is also used for commemoration purposes. With the permission of Her Majesty, it can be placed on various objects such as commemorative plaques, stamps, portraits and stained glass windows.

Who determines if a Royal Crown may be used? [top]

Her Majesty The Queen personally approves each new use of the Royal Crown. Recommendations for approval are sent to The Queen by the governor general, on the advice of the chief herald of Canada and the Canadian secretary to The Queen.

Her Majesty also approves the inclusion of the Royal Crown as part of heraldic emblems granted by the chief herald of Canada (coats of arms, flags, and badges). The requests related to heraldic emblems are sent to Her Majesty by the governor general on the advice of the chief herald and are accompanied by the proposed design of the emblem. For more information on the granting of heraldic emblems, see the Procedure Guide of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

How do I submit a request for permission to use the Royal Crown, or for further information? [top]

In Canada, requests for authorization to include the Royal Crown are to be sent to the chief herald of Canada. The request must include a description and the history of the petitioner, the purpose of the proposed emblem and how it will be used, the reasons for the inclusion of the Royal Crown, and a draft design, if possible. Submissions must be addressed to:

Dr. Claire Boudreau
Chief Herald of Canada
Canadian Heraldic Authority
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca
 
Or call: 1-800-465-6890

Date modified: April 13, 2016