Canadian Royal Heritage Trust

A National Educational Charity

The Royal Family and the Armed Forces

 

by Garry Toffoli

 

Members of the Royal Family have maintained a special relationship with the armed forces of Canada for well over two hundred years. At the highest level, the Command-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Canada is vested in Her Majesty The Queen, as declared by the Constitution Act 1867, as it had been vested in all her predecessors. But the personal relationship is also deeper and more extensive.

It was the armed forces that first brought a member of the Royal Family to Canadian shores. In 1786, the third son of King George III, Prince William, later Duke of Clarence and the future King William IV, arrived in Canada, travelling to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec on active naval service as Captain of HMS Pegasus. Then, in 1791, his younger brother, Prince Edward, arrived as a 23-year-old colonel and commanding officer of the Royal Fusiliers. He served in Quebec City and travelled throughout what are now the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. He then served in Halifax, where, in 1799 as the Duke of Kent, he became Commander-in-Chief of all the forces in British North America. Under his direction the citadel in Halifax and other military preparations, which would help ward off the American invaders in the War of 1812, were constructed or strengthened. The Prince remained in Canada until 1800, a nine-year residence, and held the title of Commander-in-Chief until 1802. He subsequently became the father of Queen Victoria and thus the ancestor of the modern Canadian Royal Family.

One of the Duke protégés was Colonel Charles de Salaberry, the son of French-Canadian friends from his time in Quebec, whose military career he fostered. Col de Salaberry became the “Hero of Châteaugauy” in the War of 1812 for his victory against the Americans, and the Duke was a subscriber and patron of a fund for veterans of the war. Kent’s time as Commander-in-Chief led him to be a proponent of Canadian Confederation as early as 1814. Lord Durham, in the famous Durham Report of 1840, quoted the Duke’s correspondence with Chief Justice Jonathan Sewell of Lower Canada, which had supported the idea of union.

In 1830 Colonel Charles Richard Fox, the husband of King William IV’s illegitimate, but acknowledged, daughter, Lady Mary Fitzclarence, came to Nova Scotia with his wife when he commanded the 34th Regiment, which was stationed in the province.

So far three other members of the Royal Family have also held the office of Commander-in-Chief since the Duke of Kent, while they were Governors-General. They were the Marquis of Lorne, son-in-law of Queen Victoria, 1878-1883; Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria, 1911-1916; and the Earl of Athlone, brother of Queen Mary and great-grandson of King George III, 1940-1946.

Members of the Royal Family since the Duke of Kent have also seen active service in Canada or with Canadian forces. The Duke of Connaught first came to Canada in 1870 when he fought against the Fenians (Irish-American terrorists who attacked Canada from the United States) at Eccles Hill, south of Montreal, and earned the Canadian General Service Medal with “Fenian Raid 1870” bar. King George V came to Canada in the late 19th Century while a young naval officer. King George VI first came to Canada in 1913 as a serving midshipman in the Royal Navy. King Edward VIII served for a time in the Canadian Corps on the Western Front in World War I, while he was the Prince of Wales. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was second in command of HMS Wallace when that ship supported the Canadian landings in Sicily in World War II. In more modern times Prince Charles, Prince of Wales undertook some of his training with the Royal Marines in the 1970s at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick and his son, Prince Harry of Wales, trained at CFB Suffield in 2009 in preparation for his posting to Afghanistan. And many current members of the Royal Family have received the Canadian Forces Decoration. These include The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of York, The Princess Royal, The Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Countess Mountbatten.

The most extensive relationship of the Royal Family with the Canadian Forces is through the office of Colonel-in-Chief. The position of Colonel-in-Chief is a special one in the Canadian Army of the Canadian Armed Forces. Each Colonel-in-Chief is the head of a regimental family that is at the heart of the Canadian military structure. (In the Royal Canadian Artillery the official designation is Captain-General.) Some members of the Royal Family have held an appointment for decades. The late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was Colonel-in-Chief of the Toronto Scottish Regiment from 1937 until her death in 2002 – 65 years. The Queen has been Colonel-in-Chief of the 48th Highlanders of Canada for 69 years, since 1948, when she was Princess Elizabeth. In 2006 the Royal Navy created the office of Commodore-in-Chief, held by members of the Royal Family, and in 2015 the Royal Canadian Navy followed suit. It is comparable to the Army’s Colonel-in-Chief.

 

Current Commodore-in-Chief appointments in the Royal Canadian Navy and Colonel-in-Chief / Captain-General Appointments in the Canadian Army

 

HM THE QUEEN

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery [regular force (Royal Canadian Horse Artillery) and reserve units throughout Canada]

The Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers [regular force and reserve units throughout Canada]

The Canadian Guards [currently at nil strength, on Supplementary Order of Battle]

Royal 22e Régiment du Canada [3 regular force battalions – Ville de Québec and CFB Valcartier, Québec]

The Governor General’s Horse Guards [Toronto, Ontario]

The King’s Own Calgary Regiment (R.C.A.C.) [Calgary, Alberta]

Governor General’s Foot Guards [Ottawa, Ontario]

The Canadian Grenadier Guards [Montreal, Quebec]

The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders [Cornwall, Ontario]

Le Régiment de la Chaudière [Lévis, Beauceville and Lac Mégantic, Québec]

4e Batallion, Royal 22e Régiment du Canada (Châteauguay) [Montréal and St-Jérôme, Québec]

6e Batallion, Royal 22e Régiment du Canada [St-Hyacinthe and Drummondville, Québec]

1st Battalion, The Royal New Brunswick Regiment (Carleton and York) [Fredericton, Edmunston, Grand Falls / Grand-Sault and Saint John, New Brunswick]

48th Highlanders of Canada [Toronto, Ontario]

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s) [Hamilton, Ontario]

The Calgary Highlanders [Calgary, Alberta]

The Rocky Mountain Rangers [Kamloops, British Columbia]

The Canadian Armed Forces Legal Services Branch [regular force and reserve units throughout Canada]

 

HRH THE PRINCE PHILIP, DUKE OF EDINBURGH

The Royal Canadian Regiment [3 regular force battalions – CFB Petawawa, Ontario and CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick]

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry [Hamilton, Ontario]

4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment [London and Stratford, Ontario]

The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh’s Own) [Ottawa, Ontario]

The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada [Winnipeg, Manitoba]

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada [Vancouver, British Columbia]

The Duke of Edinburgh also holds the ranks of Admiral in the Royal Canadian Navy, General in the Canadian Army and General in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

 

HRH THE PRINCE CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES

Commodore-in-Chief, The Royal Canadian Navy, Fleet Atlantic

The Royal Canadian Dragoons [regular force – CFB Petawawa]

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) [regular force – CFB Edmonton]

The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada [Montreal, Quebec]

The Royal Regiment of Canada [Toronto, Ontario]

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles [Winnipeg, Manitoba]

2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada [Sudbury, Ontario]

The Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Own) [Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario]

The Prince of Wales also holds the ranks of Vice-Admiral in the Royal Canadian Navy, Lieutenant General in the Canadian Army and Lieutenant General in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

 

HRH THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL (CAMILLA)

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada [Toronto, Ontario]

 

HRH THE PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK

The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (R.C.A.C.) [Toronto and Aurora, Ontario]

The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada [Cambridge, Ontario]

The Princess Louise Fusiliers [Halifax, Nova Scotia]

 

HRH THE PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX

The Saskatchewan Dragoons [Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan]

The Prince Edward Island Regiment (R.C.A.C.) [Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island]

The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment [Belleville, Cobourg and Peterborough, Ontario]

 

HRH THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX (SOPHIE)

The South Alberta Light Horse [Medicine Hat and Edmonton, Alberta]

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment [St Catharines and Niagara Falls, Ontario]

 

 HRH THE PRINCESS ANNE, PRINCESS ROYAL

Commodore-in-Chief, The Royal Canadian Navy, Fleet Pacific

8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s Own) [Moncton, CFB Gagetown, Sussex and Sackville, New Brunswick]

The Royal Canadian Hussars [Montreal, Quebec]

The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals [regular force and reserve units throughout Canada] and Communications and Electronics Branch

The Grey and Simcoe Foresters [Owen Sound, Barrie and Collingwood, Ontario]

The Royal Regina Rifles [Regina, Saskatchewan]

1st Battalion, The Royal Newfoundland Regiment [St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador]

2nd Battalion, The Royal Newfoundland Regiment [Corner Brook, Grand Falls and Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador]

The Royal Canadian Medical Service [regular force and reserve units throughout Canada]

 

HRH THE DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER (BIRGITTE)

The Royal Canadian Dental Corps [regular and reserve units throughout Canada]

 

HRH PRINCE EDWARD, THE DUKE OF KENT

The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) [Brampton, Oakville and Georgetown, Ontario]

 

HRH PRINCE MICHAEL OF KENT

The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment [Windsor and Chatham, Ontario]

 

HRH PRINCESS ALEXANDRA OF KENT, THE HON. LADY OGILVY

The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) [Victoria, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Courtney, British Columbia]

 

 

Royal Names in The Royal Canadian Navy

In the Royal Canadian Navy all ships and naval reserve divisions (“stone frigates”) carry the prefix HMCS / NCSM – Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship / Navire Canadien de Sa Majesté, but in addition several ships and naval reserve divisions bear the names of members of the Royal Family.

Frigates

HMCS Charlottetown [named after the capital of Prince Edward Island, which was named for Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III]

HMCS Fredericton [named after the capital of New Brunswick, which was named for Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second son of King George III]

HMCS Regina [named after the capital of Saskatchewan, which was named for Queen Victoria – “regina” is Latin for “queen”]

Submarines

HMCS Victoria [named after the capital of British Columbia, which was named for Queen Victoria]

HMCS Windsor [named after the Ontario city, which was named for the Castle and Royal House of Windsor]

Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels

HMCS Kingston [named after the Ontario city, which was named for King George III – “King’s Town”]

Joint Support Ship

HMCS Queenston [named after the Ontario town and site of War of 1812 battle, which was named for Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III - "Queen's town"]

Naval Reserve Divisions

HMCS Brunswicker [located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, named for the Royal House of Brunswick (King George I through Queen Victoria)]

HMCS Queen [located in Regina, Saskatchewan, named for Queen Victoria]

HMCS Queen Charlotte [located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, named for the wife of King George III]

HMCS York [located in Toronto, Ontario, named for Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second son of King George III, for whom Toronto was originally named “York”]

 

Copyright © 2004/2013/2015/2017 Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli (Fealty Enterprises)