What happens in Alberta following Queen Elizabeth's death?

·4 min read
Alberta Infrastructure employees drape the official portrait of Queen Elizabeth inside the chamber of the legislature on Sept. 8, 2022. (Janet French/CBC - image credit)
Alberta Infrastructure employees drape the official portrait of Queen Elizabeth inside the chamber of the legislature on Sept. 8, 2022. (Janet French/CBC - image credit)

Alberta officials were quick to act on a provincial government plan that was set in motion by the death of Queen Elizabeth on Thursday.

Planning is underway for a provincial public memorial event, with the details still to come, according to Premier Jason Kenney's office.

On Thursday afternoon, Alberta Infrastructure employees set up books of condolences for the Queen in the rotunda of the legislature. The public will soon be invited to sign the books, which rest on tables draped in black bunting next to portraits of the Queen.

Inside the legislature's chamber, workers climbed ladders to drape a black cloth atop the Queen's official portrait.

Steps such as these are all spelled out in the provincial government's Demise of the Crown contingency plan, which was first drafted in 2018, and obtained by CBC News.

Provincial officials did not say on Thursday whether that plan has been amended in recent years.

However, both the province and the City of Edmonton published websites to help explain changes and events people can expect to see in the coming days.

New names coming — and already here

Thanks to a bill passed by Alberta's United Conservative Party government in 2019, the name of the province's top court immediately changed upon the Queen's death. By Thursday afternoon, the Court of King's Bench website reflected its new name.

The provincial government's website says the court will likely set a grace period during which it still accepts references to the Court of Queen's Bench.

On Friday, the government's official publisher rebranded itself as The King's Printer after 70 years as The Queen's Printer.

As part of a constitutional monarchy, Alberta's legislation and regulations are peppered with references to Her Majesty and The Court of Queen's Bench — 4,500 references in 350 documents, to be precise.

Alberta Justice is responsible for updating all these references, which they can do without passing any legislation, according to the government's website.

The mourning period

The Canadian government has set a 10-day mourning period for the Queen.

Alberta's public memorial is planned for the final day of that mourning period, but no further details were available on Thursday.

Starting Friday, mourners can sign books of condolence in person at the legislature and Government House in Edmonton or in Calgary's McDougall Centre between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., seven days a week.

On weekdays, books of condolence will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the provincial buildings in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, and Fort McMurray.

From Friday until Thursday, Sept. 15, the City of Edmonton will have a book of condolences for people to sign set up in the City Room at City Hall. The hours vary by day and are available on the city's website.

A provincial online condolences page is already active.

Janet French/CBC
Janet French/CBC

The province is also encouraging mourners to send cards directly to the office of the Royal Household in London.

Official portraits of the Queen on provincial property will be draped with black fabric. Infrastructure staff will also tie black cravats — thin pieces of fabric — to the tops of flags inside the legislature's chamber.

Once the Canadian government has a new official portrait of King Charles, his picture will replace the Queen's in provincial buildings.

It's unclear how many royal portraits across Alberta require replacement, but hundreds of schools and courtrooms across the province are among the places that bear the Queen's picture.

Janet French/CBC
Janet French/CBC

Flags at provincial buildings will be lowered to half mast, except on Friday, upon the accession of the King.

On Thursday afternoon, a black ribbon was wrapped around Alberta's mace in its legislature display case. The mace is a symbol of the monarch's authority in Alberta and confers law-making power to the legislature.

The province's website also encourages mourners to wear dark clothing or black armbands, above the elbow on the left arm, during the mourning period.

Although Canadians can eventually expect changes to stamps, passports and currency, those are federal government jurisdiction.

In a tweet, the city says City Hall, the High Level Bridge, the Walterdale Bridge, Commonwealth Stadium, the Muttart Conservatory and the Rossdale power plant will all be lit royal purple for the 10-day mourning period.

Janet French/CBC
Janet French/CBC

What stays the same – for now

There's no need to panic about any oaths sworn to the Queen or $20 bills bearing her likeness, the provincial government website says.

Stamps and currency are still valid. The lieutenant-governor can stay in her role, as can Alberta's MLAs and other elected officials who pledged allegiance to the Crown. Judges, police officers and lawyers, likewise, do not need to take another oath of office. Recipients can continue to wear Jubilee medals.

Anything named in honour of the Queen, such as the Queen Elizabeth II Highway and the Royal Alberta Museum, can keep its name.