A propos yesterday’s post on Canada’s constitutional crisis, a large number of readers have written along the following lines:
You want to explain for us Americans with a functioning government how in the hell the Queen of England is still deciding who rules places like Canada and Australia?? I thought Britain basically wrote off nearly ever part of governance of the former colonies legislatively, no??
Canada — 232 years behind the times??
Well, the short(ish) answer is that Her Majesty does not reign over Moose Jaw or Alice Springs in her capacity as “Queen of England”. Although the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Canada and the Queen of Australia happen to be the same person in the corporeal sense, in the legal and constitutional sense they happen to be three different persons (and have been since the 1931 Statute of Westminster).
And yes, if you were starting from scratch, you probably wouldn’t devise a system whereby the head of state lives thousands of miles away. But, on the other hand, the thing about peaceful constitutional democracies is that, unlike post-Nazi Germany or post-Saddam Iraq or post-umpteenth-coup Liberia, they don’t often find themselves starting from scratch.
PS When I say that several different persons are contained within the body of the Queen, I am not endorsing the thesis of former BBC sports anchor and Coventry City goalkeeper David Icke that Her Majesty is a shape-shifting blood-drinking space lizard from the star system Alpha Draconis running the planet through a secret world government of child-abusing Satanist Illuminati. If that were the case, I’m pretty sure this whole Canadian constitutional crisis wouldn’t be happening.