Sovereign and Royal Family

The Sovereign

Currently, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada and Canada’s Head of State, is the personal embodiment of the Canadian Crown. As representatives of the Crown, the governor general and provincial lieutenant governors act on The Queen’s behalf. In Canada, the power to govern is vested in the Crown but is entrusted to elected governments to exercise on behalf of the people. 

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The Crown represents the basic political ideals which all Canadians share. It stands for the idea that individual people matter more than theories; that we are all subject to the rule of law. These ideals are guaranteed by a common loyalty, through the Sovereign, to community and country.

Queen Elizabeth II, Regina, Saskatchewan, October 1987

The Royal Family

The governor general plays an important role in maintaining Canada’s long-standing relationship with the Royal Family. The governor general greets members of the Royal Family upon arrival in Canada for either official tours or working visits. When visiting Ottawa or Québec, members of the Royal Family stay at Rideau Hall or the Citadelle of Québec, respectively.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the overall management of Royal visits and shares the responsibility for their development and execution with provincial and territorial governments.

FAQ

How do I write to the Royal Family?

Letters and greetings addressed to Her Majesty The Queen may be sent to the following address:

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

The letter should be addressed to Her Majesty The Queen; the salutation of your letter 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 (i.e. immigration, Canadian politics, Royal Assent of bills, etc.). Her Majesty defers to the governor general as her representative in Canada. If such letters are received by Buckingham Palace, they will be forwarded to the Office of Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG).

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 (including honorary appointments to Canadian regiments) or  to Royal visits, patronage or the use of the word “Royal,” as well as pledges of loyalty, should be sent to:

Office of the Secretary the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

How can I obtain a birthday or anniversary greeting from Her Majesty The Queen?

Her Majesty The Queen sends greetings to Canadians who are 100 years of age or older and to couples who are celebrating an anniversary of 60 years or more. These are issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG).

For more information or to a submit a request for greetings from Her Majesty, please visit Birthday and Anniversary Greetings.

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

To download the official Canadian portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, please visit the Department of Canadian Heritage website.

How should I address a member of the Royal Family?

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”.

What are the criteria for receiving Royal patronage?

During the more than six decades of Her Majesty’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 asked to develop a detailed submission that fully addresses or confirms the validity of the following five points:

  • 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 25 years; and
  • Have documented evidence that confirms financial solvency and effective / acceptable standards of organizational management.

Each submission will be carefully reviewed by the OSGG; positive recommendations will be forwarded to the Royal Household in London for final consideration.

How do I submit a request for Royal Patronage?

Requests for Royal patronage must be submitted to:

Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

What are the criteria for receiving Royal designation?

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 asked to develop a detailed submission that fully addresses or confirms the validity of the following five points:

The association/organization/entity must:

  • 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;
  • 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 recreational/athletic organizations in exceptional circumstances);
  • Enjoy a long-standing and verifiable record of service/accomplishment that covers a minimum of 25 years;
  • Be duly registered as a non-profit entity under the terms and conditions of the Income Tax Act; and
  • Have a well-defined and effective administrative structure as well as a current, verifiable state of sound finances.

Each submission will be carefully reviewed by the OSGG; positive recommendations will be forwarded to Buckingham Palace for final consideration.

How do I submit a request for Royal Designation?

Requests for Royal designation must be submitted to:

Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

What are the criteria for naming a building, park, scholarship, etc., after a member of the Royal Family?

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.
  • 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 criteria have been established for these awards.

Each submission will be carefully reviewed by the OSGG; positive recommendations will be forwarded to the appropriate Royal Household  for final consideration.

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

Requests to use the name of a Member of the Royal Family must be submitted to:

Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A1
royal@gg.ca

Your application should include

  • a detailed description of the feature being named in honour of the Royal Family, including details about its facilities and costs; and
  • a photograph of the completed building or park.

How can I obtain a ticket to a Royal garden party or to the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade?

Please visit the Calendar of Events section of the High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom website for information on how to obtain tickets.