Queen Elizabeth II, and the monarchy in general, is a contentious topic in Canada. While she remains generally popular especially in her old age, many contest the value of such an ancient system of governance.
And while the Queen has left a controversial legacy, few can doubt her accomplishments. Of course, her historic reign must eventually come to an end. Because there hasn't been a new monarch since 1952, many have wondered just what this monumental change will mean for Canada in particular.
Listed here are nine things Canadians should expect at the passing of Elizabeth II:
Charles immediately becomes king
The rules of succession are clear. Once one Canadian monarch dies, their successor immediately inherits the crown. But the current Prince Charles may opt for a different regnal name. King Charles I was beheaded in a republican rebellion and King Charles II was a notorious playboy who produced several illegitimate and belligerent heirs with his mistresses. So, not a good namesake.
The heir-apparent is reportedly considering the title of King George VII after his grandfather, Elizabeth's father, King George VI. Because the announcement of a name won't come until his ascension, Canadians will have to keep guessing.
Canada goes into an official, extended period of mourning
Officials will distribute black accessories to government workers and the public. Black drapes will likely decorate federal and provincial buildings (though maybe not in Quebec). This period of mourning could last months. The fanfare will likely disrupt day-to-day life significantly. Expect a lot of black.
Canadians might get a few days off
The funeral of the Queen, however long that takes, will be a public holiday. As the longest-reigning monarch in the history of Canada, Elizabeth II will likely receive huge ceremonial dedications at her death.
The economy comes to a complete standstill
According to the National Post, Canadians can expect an uproar at the passing of the queen comparable to that surrounding the tragic death of Princess Diana. Large-scale public mourning will dominate public space in urban areas. Metros will be overcrowded as crowds gather in downtowns. Flower shops will sell all their stock. Things will move a lot more slowly for a few days, if not weeks.
New passports are slowly issued
Flip through the pages of your passport and you will see the Queen's insignia. It will take years before all official documents bear the name of the new king. Passports are the least of it. Every official document in Canada will need to reflect the change in the monarchy. That is a giant undertaking with an innumerable cost.
Every official portrait must be changed
If you head into a federal building or even a port of entry, you will see the official portrait of the Queen hanging proudly on the wall. Canadians can even order the portrait for free online. Officials will need to replace every portrait with an official portrait of the new king. But that turnover will have to wait until Charles makes an official visit to Canada, and there's no telling how long that will take.
It will take years for new currency to circulate
Canadians are most familiar with their current monarch through her appearance on our currency, especially the twenty dollar bill and the quarter. We see her every day and will continue to do so long after she dies. Even if the mint immediately issues new money with Charles' face (in reality, the planning alone could take months), the process of collecting old bills and coins will take forever.
The new monarch will likely go on tour
After his coronation, typically one year after ascension, the new king will likely tour his new realms. Such a tour would probably include a few days' stay in Canada, during which time the king will pose for an offical portrait and perform countless other ceremonial duties.
Republican fervor breaks out
Other Commonwealth nations, like Australia, have already expressed interest in making Elizabeth II their last monarch. Given her longevity and tremendous accomplishments, that's kind of a sweet gesture. Similar discussion will definitely spread across Canada. There are arguments to be had on both sides.
While it is admittedly strange to have a head of state who lives thousands of kilometres away, across an ocean, in another country, the monarchy allows Canada to distinguish itself from the United States. The English monarchy has never been popular among Quebecers, however, and who can blame them? Only time will tell whether this discussion will come to alter the very core of Canadian identity.