The Crown and Canada’s Armed Forces

The CAF includes the Canadian Army with its many Royal regiments (groups of soldiers who work as a team), the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. We look up to these brave men and women who sometimes fight against an enemy, and sometimes do the equally dangerous work of trying to keep peace.

Naturally the CAF takes their day-to-day orders from the government we have elected. However, they understand that the weapons they have are not to be used to tell Canadians what to do or how to vote. So their loyalty is to The Queen, who represents all of us, not just one political party or set of policies.

That is why so many of the CAF’s units contain the name “Royal,” why vessels of the RCN are entitled “Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship” and why our soldiers, sailors and air crews take their Oaths (a very solemn promise) to The Queen instead of to the Prime Minister and government. For the same reason, the Crown appears on military uniforms, equipment and flags.

Many members of the Royal Family are Colonels-in-Chief of different units of the CAF. This role – sometimes explained as “the spirit of the Regiment” – gives the unit a special feeling of encouragement and pride. You might think of it in the same way as your special relationship with an older family member whom you really respect, or a favourite teacher for whom you work extra hard – their examples bring the best out of you.

Can you think of a military organization for young people that contains “Royal” in its name?

Vimy Ridge: the Evolution of the Canadian Identity

The Battle of Vimy Ridge (April 9th-12th, 1917) is a pivotal battle in Canadian history, seen by many as a turning point for Canada, as a nation. More than 10,600 Canadian Soldiers were wounded during the battle, and 3,598 gave their lives. In total, 600,000 Canadians participated in World War One. Four Canadians won the Victoria Cross for their heroic efforts at the battle of Vimy Ridge.

King Edward VIII, in one of his few acts as a monarch, dedicated the Vimy Ridge Memorial atop Hill 145 in 1936. For the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Queen Elizabeth rededicated a newly refurbished memorial April 9th, 2007.

More about Vimy Ridge can be found here.