Prince Charles as heir to the Canadian Crown

The absurd furore in the British media about private remarks which Prince Charles made to an elderly lady at a Victoria Day tea party[1] for War Brides and Second World War veterans in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 20th May, ignores the fact that Prince Charles was there in his capacity as heir to the Canadian Crown, not as a Prince of the United Kingdom.

If there were any political implications in his remarks (which would have remained private if some British media hack hadn’t talked to the lady and broadcast what they thought was said) it would have been for the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper to comment, not David Cameron, UK Prime Minister.  In a dignified statement a spokesman for Prime Minister Harper said he would not comment on remarks made during a private conversation[2].

When Cameron was interviewed, virtually interrogated, by a BBC Radio hack on 21st May Wednesday’s “Today” programme, he had to tell her three times that he wouldn’t comment, but he should have closed down the interview straight away by saying that Prince Charles was representing the Crown in Canada, under arrangements made by the Governments of the three Provinces – Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Isle (PEI) and Manitoba – and it would be for the Prime Minister of Canada to comment if he thought it necessary (which he didn’t).

However, although Prime Minister Cameron is said to have read history at Oxford, as has been noticed before[3] there can’t have been much in his course about the British Empire and the position of the Crown in what are now legislatively separate countries.  He should consult the Queen for a quick rundown!


[1]  Nearest convenient day to Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24th May – a public holiday in Canada, formerly Empire Day.

[2]]  Prince Charles did not liken Russian President Putin to Hitler, but apparently commented that Russia’s annexation of the Crimea was like Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 (an annexation incidentally agreed to by the major European powers at Munich).  This is a view shared by Hilary Clinton and Stephen Harper, among others.

[3]  E.g. over the Act of Settlement in 1702.

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