Queen Elizabeth and Canada: Canadians won't be as interested in monarchy if Prince Charles takes over, study reveals

Canadians’ sentiment towards the British monarchy is largely tied to Queen Elizabeth, a new poll reveals. The Angus Reid Institute survey comes as Barbados cuts its ties to the colonial ruler after almost 400 years, turning it into a republic. But one royal expert says this waning interest in the monarchy has happened before in history, and its current resurgence is likely a result of the pandemic.

The poll shows that while 55 per cent of those surveyed say they support Canada’s place in the monarchy under the current Queen, only 34 per cent agree if her assumed successor, Prince Charles, took her place.

Admiration for Queen Elizabeth keeps monarchy alive

The future of Queen Elizabeth’s nearly 70 -year reign is being considered as she’s recently been plagued by health concerns. The Queen, who is 95, has cancelled several high profile events as a result of her health.

When it comes to the future of Canada’s relationship to the monarchy, 52 per cent said they would prefer to give up being part of this system in generations to come, compared to 25 per cent, who felt the country should keep the head of the British royal family as the country’s official head of state.

Caroyln Harris is a historian and author of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting. She says this dwindling interest in the monarchy’s role in Canada happened in 1901, when Queen Victoria died.

“There was a widespread sense of loss and a sense that an era had some to the end, as we do speak of the 19th century as the Victorian era,” she tells Yahoo Canada News. “There was a lot of skepticism about her son’s ability to step into that role and whether the new King Edward the 7th would be successful as monarch...we now talk about the first decade of the 20th century as the Edwardian era.”

Since Queen Elizabeth had reigned longer than Queen Victoria, many people have a hard time imagining someone else stepping into that role. Unlike Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth has been preparing her son for this transition, with Prince Charles recently taking on more philanthropic work and royal tours. He was recently in Barbados to celebrate the island's new status as a republic.

“There’s a period of transition underway but it can be very difficult to imagine anyone else in that role because Queen Elizabeth II is widely respected as an elder stateswoman for her decades of public service. Even people who don’t necessarily favour constitutional monarchy as a system of government, still admire Queen Elizabeth II personally.Caroyln Harris, historian and author of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

Could Canada ever leave the monarchy?

Leaving the monarchy is technically an option for Canada, though it would be a complicated one. Harris explains that all provinces would have to agree on the move to change the constitution. This would prove challenging, as some provinces, like Quebec, don't favour the monarchy as much as others do. Additionally, the House of Commons and the Senate would have to vote in favour of it, and consultation with Indigenous people would need to take place, since treaties fall under the Crown.

Harris says the survey’s results that show a decline in interest in the monarchy likely has a lot to do with how the pandemic’s impacted Royal tours, which have been popular in recent years.

“Often interest in the monarchy increases when there’s a very successful royal tour,” she says, using the example of Kate and William's visit to parts of Canada after their 2011 wedding and again with their children in 2016.

“Since then we haven’t been seeing that same level of high profile royal tours that get the monarchy into the news in Canada and prompt discussion of the monarchy to the same degree.”