Thursday 30 June 2011

Canada's Royal Anthem - God Save the Queen (with special Canadian verse)

As Canadians eagerly await the arrival of their future King and Queen (The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge), the time is perhaps appropriate to explain some Royal Canadian symbols. Over the coming days I shall endeavour to delve into Canada's rich royal history and share some (hopefully interesting) Royal Canadian facts. I hope, particularly, that these short postings will help foreign media outlets avoid making the all too easy mistake of confusing British & Canadian symbols.

For example, God Save the Queen will be heard several times during the Canadian travels of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but did you know that it will be played not as the British National Anthem but, rather, as Canada's Royal Anthem? 

Furthermore, did you know that there is a uniquely Canadian verse to God Save the Queen -- and a French verse too? 

It is a little known fact that, whilst undoubtedly British, God Save the Queen has no official status in the United Kingdom -- amazingly it has never been formally recognised by the British Parliament (it is also interesting to note that the tune is also used for the national anthem of Liechtenstein and the American patriotic song "My Country 'Tis of Thee" -- and was also once the melody for the Swiss national anthem). 

By contrast, in 1967 a Special Joint Committee of the Canadian Senate and House of Commons declared that the Canadian Parliament should recognise God Save the Queen as Canada's Royal Anthem (O Canada being declared Canada's official national anthem in 1980). God Save the Queen had been sung in Canada since the 1700s and, along with O Canada, was held to be one of Canada's two national anthems, English Canadians preferring the former (along with The Maple Leaf Forever) and French Canadians usually opting for the latter. 

Canada continues to have both a Royal Anthem and a National Anthem. As the Royal Anthem, God Save the Queen is played in the presence of the Sovereign and other members of the Royal Family. It is also played at important national ceremonies and events, such as Remembrance Day services.

Click this video to hear Canada's Royal Anthem & National Anthem:

Contrary to popular belief, God Save the Queen does not have any set number of verses (in either Canada or the United Kingdom). However, Canadians can be justifiably proud to have a uniquely Canadian verse which is not sung anywhere else (although in modern times it is seldom sung at all):

Our loved Dominion bless
With peace and happiness
From shore to shore;
And let our Empire be
United, loyal, free,
True to herself and Thee
For evermore

Of course, Canada is also a bilingual country. French Canadians have a proud monarchical heritage and over the generations French Canadians have proudly and fiercely demonstrated their loyalty to the Crown (Father of Confederation Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Bt., PC, former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier GCMG, PC, KC and former Governor General Major General Georges Vanier PC, DSO, MC, CD to name but three). It is therefore quite right that Canada's Royal Anthem should also contain a French verse (essentially a translation of the first verse):

Dieu protege la reine
De sa main souveraine!
Vive la reine!
Qu'un regne glorieux,
Long et victorieux
Rende son peuple heureux
Vive la Reine!

As the representative of the Sovereign, Canada's Governor General also gets some "royal" treatment -- but as the G.G. is not the Head of State but merely the representative of the Head of State, he/she receives the Canadian Vice Regal Salute, which comprises the first six bars of God Save the Queen immediately followed by the first four and last four bars of O Canada.

Therefore, when you hear God Save the Queen played during this Royal Canadian Homecoming of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge please remember it is not played to honour British visitors -- it is played to honour Canada's future King & Queen.

Click on this video to hear Canada's Vice-Regal Salute:

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