The Other Members of the Canadian Royal Family

The so-called “minor” members of the Royal Family do yeoman service for the Canadian Crown in undertaking a variety of duties in support of diverse activities, bringing them frequently to this country on working visits, which are arranged and financed by the organizations they visit. A lynchpin of these homecomings often is their service as regimental Colonels-in-Chief. Activities on behalf of regiments are then typically combined with a public program supportive of events and causes in surrounding communities.

The Princess Royal (Anne)

Famously regarded as the hardest working member of the Royal Family, based on the sheer number of engagements she undertakes throughout the world, The Queen’s daughter has made 23 homecomings to Canada. Some of these include engagements on behalf of international organizations for which she holds particular concern. These include the Save the Children Fund and the Mission to Seafarers together with the Commonwealth Study Conference. The Princess is also patron of both the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association and of The Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

One of HRH’s most recent Canadian homecomings was to Ontario in 2013, and centered on three of her military appointments. In Barrie, the Princess dedicated the site of a Military Heritage Park as she made her first visit to the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. Continuing to CFB Borden, Anne presented the recently-renamed Royal Canadian Medical Services with her Banner, a new Colour to honour the vital role the unit has played since Canadians deployed to Afghanistan in 2002. Later, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario held a Reception in the Princess’ honour so that she could meet members of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Leaders Conference and of the Royal Victorian Order Association. The tour concluded in Kingston, where the Princess Royal received a public municipal welcome, visited CFB Kingston, and honoured the 110th Anniversary of the CF Communications & Electronics Branch with her Banner.

In November, 2014, the federal Government organized an official Homecoming for the Princess in the Ottawa region, the highlight of which was HRH’s joining the Governor General at the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial. Anne re-dedicated the Memorial 75 years after her Grandfather, George VI, had dedicated it in 1939. 2016 brought the Princess to Newfoundland where she visited Corner Brook and St John’s. In addition to a number of private engagements, HRH presented new Colours to her regiment, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, and marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, during which the flower of the then-Colony had been cut down at Beaumont Hamel.

Update: A complete list of Anne’s frequent Canadian Homecomings, together with those of the Earl & Countess of Wessex, may be found at past royal tours.

Edward and Sophie at a League Event

The Duke of Kent (L) and Prince Michael (R)

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Edward and Sophie)

On March 10, 2023, The King appointed Edward, then Earl of Wessex, (on his 59th birthday), Duke of Edinburgh, in recognition of Edward & Sophie’s ceaseless work for the Monarchy and tireless round of engagements throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, especially in the role the Duke continues as head of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme – founded and actively led by his father for many decades. The Dukedom is not hereditary, and will revert to the Crown on Edward’s death. The Edinburghs’ son, James, will become Earl of Essex. Edward will continue to be known as Earl of Fofar when in Scotland – the title will at Edward’s death be merged with James’ who will then become Earl of Wessex & Fofar.

One indication of Edward & Sophie’s commitment to Canada lies in the fact that they are the only members of the Royal Family (other than The Queen) to have appointed a Canadian Private Secretary, who for a time coordinated their frequent homecomings here. Their associations with the Maple Kingdom are manifest in the Duke’s over 30 Canadian homecomings (on most of which he was joined by the Duchess since their marriage in 1999), They range from their five regiments to celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Navy; the Prince is also patron of the Globe Theatre of Regina. He also presides at award presentation ceremonies and other events relating to the Earl’s involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme in his former role as Chairman of the International Council. The new Duchess’ interests centre on hospitals (she is patron of the Toronto General Hospital) and education (patron, New Haven Trust). She has also opened the Calgary Military Museum, presented the Ontario Provincial Police with its officially-registered Tartan and, with her husband, lent support to Habitat for Humanity and attended a reception tendered by the Monarchist League of Canada in 2005.

The military appointments which also often provide a central focus of the couple’s Canadian homecomings include for the Edward his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (Belleville, Ontario), the Prince Edward Island Regiment, the Saskatchewan Dragoons; and as Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Sophie is Colonel-in-Chief of two Canadian regiments: the Grey and Simcoe Foresters (Barrie, Ontario), the Eighth Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) (Moncton, New Brunswick).

The Duke of Kent (Edward)

The Duke has not been to Canada in recent years, nor has the Duchess, given her withdrawal from public life. However, in 2006 the immediate family enjoyed a skiing holiday at Whistler. He is Colonel-in-Chief of the Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) based in Brampton, Ontario. Between them, the Duke and Duchess have made nine homecomings here.

Prince Michael of Kent

A frequent visitor to Canada, with 10 homecomings, Prince Michael became Colonel-in-Chief of The Essex and Kent Scottish (Windsor, Ontario) in the Golden Jubilee year, 2002, when he made an extensive cross-country tour under the auspices of the founder of the Monarchist League of Canada. He and his wife, Princess Michael, returned together the same year to preside at the Queen’s Plate, Toronto. The Princess has also been a frequent visitor in connection with her lectures on porcelain and her promotion of three books she has authored on historic European royalty.

Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy

This greatly-loved member of the Royal Family has made 11 homecomings to Canada, many in connection with the two regiments of which the Princess is Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (Toronto), The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s), based in Victoria. She is also patron of Friends of the Osborne Collection—a notable collection of children’s books housed within the Toronto Public Library system—and of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, a club with an extensive library of militaria, also located in Toronto.

The Princess’ most recently visited Canada in Diamond Jubilee Year, 2012, when the spent two days in Victoria BC to honour her Canadian Scottish Regiment’s centennial. HRH visited with cadets, attended a Gala Dinner, participated in a Church Parade and laid a wreath in honour of fallen soldiers in Pioneer Square, “the old burying ground.”