Volume #18 - 2.|
CONDUCT OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS
ROYAL STYLE AND TITLES
Memorandum for Prime Minister|
November [24?], 1952|
ROYAL STYLE AND TITLES|
This question has been under consideration by the various Governments of the Commonwealth since the Accession of Queen Elizabeth II. On April 5, 1952, the Commonwealth Relations Office asked each of these Governments for their views on the wording of the new Royal Style and Titles. More recently the Commonwealth Relations Office suggested that, in view of the varying replies to this inquiry, the matter might be arranged by a "personal discussion"; and that the presence of the Prime Ministers or their representatives in London at the Commonwealth Financial and Economic Conference in November would offer a most convenient opportunity for such a discussion. The Commonwealth Relations Office expressed the hope that this proposal would be generally acceptable and that the proposed discussions in London would enable Commonwealth Governments to reach a final agreement on the new form of the Royal Style and Titles.
Prime Ministers' Conference in 1949
2. When this matter was raised in London in 1949, there was general agreement that the Royal Style and Titles was archaic and needed to be changed to bring it into conformity with the existing structure of the Commonwealth. Although at that time no precise understanding was reached on how it might be done, there was general agreement that each Commonwealth country would use for its own purpose a title in which the country concerned would be mentioned by name and the other parts of the Commonwealth would be described in a generic phrase. A further suggestion was that, since the phrases "By the Grace of God" and "Defender of the Faith" although traditional in the United Kingdom - might not be considered appropriate in all the other Commonwealth countries, it would be for the government of each country to consider whether one or both of these phrases should be omitted from the title adopted for use in that country. Subject to these two considerations the Prime Ministers agreed in the 1949 Conference on the desirability for the maximum possible measure of uniformity for the form of the Royal Style and Titles to be used in each country of the Commonwealth.
Preferences of the Various Commonwealth Governments
3. The preferences for the wording of the Royal Style and Titles, as submitted by the Commonwealth Governments in reply to the C.R.O. inquiry are attached as an appendix to this memorandum. These Governments agree on the desirability of having the Royal Style changed before the Coronation (although this ceremony does not include a full recital of the Royal Style and Titles); but there are wide divergences of view in the various preferences:
(a) Australia does not favour the United Kingdom's suggestion, primarily because Australia wishes both the United Kingdom and Australia to be mentioned by name in the title to be used in Australia.
(b) Neither of the Australian preferences would satisfy completely our desire that the Royal Style should emphasize the fact that the Queen is Queen of Canada, regardless of her sovereignty over other Commonwealth countries. Our view2 is in strict accord with the present constitutional position, which is based on the concept of equality of status of all Commonwealth members. The first Australian preference would result in a cumbersome title and is, therefore, not likely to commend itself to the other Commonwealth governments. The second Australian suggestion is not in accord with the objectives, expressed at the 1949 Prime Ministers' Conference, that all members of the Commonwealth should be represented in the new Royal Style on an equal basis with the United Kingdom and that only one country would be named in the new Royal Style.
(c) Ceylon and Pakistan have expressed a preference for the shortest possible title and would be most unlikely to agree to a new Royal Style along the lines of the Australian proposal because it tends to emphasize the link between the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth country concerned.
(d) South Africa has already gone on record as being unable to lend its support to the form of title suggested by Australia because, in the South Africans' view, the Australian proposal detracts from the equality of status of the members of the Commonwealth.
(e) Ceylon, Pakistan and South Africa do not wish to include the expressions "By the Grace of God" and "Defender of the Faith" in the new Royal Style and Titles.
4. A number of possible alternatives may be raised in London:
(a) If it appears that no near-uniform title is likely to emerge from the discussions, the suggestion might be made that the whole matter be dropped and that the present Royal Style and Titles be retained. (The present title reads: "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Queen, Defender of the Faith.") In my view it would be most undesirable to postpone the matter any longer, because so much of the ground work has already been completed; because the Coronation presents a convenient opportunity to bring the Royal Style to date; because there has been general agreement on the need to have the present archaic and unrealistic title revised; and because from time to time we have encountered difficulties over the present form of the Royal Style and Titles (Mr. Turgeon's3 new Letter of Credence was the latest case in point).
(b) It may be suggested that near-uniformity could be reached if Australia, Ceylon and Pakistan would agree to the 1949 formula, from which the Commonwealth countries' preferences do not vary greatly. The Australians might be persuaded to change their view but the position of Ceylon and Pakistan is difficult. Although at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1949 Ceylon and Pakistan seemed to accept in principle the suggested formula, there is reason to believe that they might now find difficulty in doing so. This is perhaps more true of Pakistan than Ceylon. You can appreciate the undesirability of bringing pressure to bear on the Governments of Ceylon and Pakistan to agree to something which they do not want and which might prove politically embarrassing for them. Moreover, not too far in the background lies the possibility that one or [sic] both of these countries might eventually follow in the footsteps of India and choose to become a republic.
(c) The suggestion might be put forward that the new Royal Style and Titles should follow the Accession formulae which read in part: "Queen of this realm and of all Her other realms and territories." This wording is unlikely to be acceptable to the United Kingdom authorities, who have expressed the view that a title which is to be used on formal occasions or informal instances (such as Heads of State Treaties or Credentials) would be unsuitable if it included no geographical content. This view in my opinion has considerable force. I should, therefore, be reluctant to give support to a form of Royal Style which made no mention of the country concerned.
(d) In our present preference, which has been communicated to the C.R.O., the words "By the Grace of God" and "Defender of the Faith" have been retained. As previously mentioned Ceylon, Pakistan and South Africa would prefer to omit these two expressions. If it would facilitate agreement on the other controversial points, you might wish to consider whether their omission from the new Royal Style and Titles would be acceptable in Canada. In spite of their historical and religious significance, primarily in the United Kingdom, the phrases are inconsistent with the present structure of the Commonwealth and serve no useful purpose in inter- Commonwealth or international relations. Their omission from the new Royal Style might meet with some opposition from the more tradition-minded elements in Canada, but, if such an omission would serve to bring about a satisfactory solution of the complex titles problem, the step might be worth taking. However, there is no indication at the present time that Canadian initiative in this direction would achieve the desired results. The phrases might well be retained in the Royal Style as optional.
(e) If uniformity cannot be obtained, there might be considerable merit in allowing each country to use the Royal Style and Titles of its own preference. The use of varying titles is not likely to detract from the value or function of the Crown as a common and unifying feature within the Commonwealth. Already India occupies a special position in relation to the Crown and, in a sense, this might constitute a precedent as regards the Royal Style and Titles. If any sort of agreement is to be reached before the Coronation, perhaps this alternative offers the best that can be hoped for.
5. The recommended Canadian position, as outlined in the preceding paragraphs, is flexible enough to permit us to agree to any of the suggested formulae, except that proposed by Australia and that proposed separately by Ceylon and Pakistan. The importance of bringing the Royal Style and Titles into line with reality, regardless of whether a near-uniform title can be agreed upon, has, I think, been fully recognized by all Commonwealth Governments. It would be unfortunate if the opportunity afforded by the forthcoming meeting of Prime Ministers in London were to be lost.4
The Australian Government has informed the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that they would prefer a title which specified all Commonwealth countries by name so that it could be used uniformly throughout the Commonwealth thus signifying its unity. If this suggestion does net commend itself generally, the Australian Government proposes that the form of the title should be:
"Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Australia and of all Her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."
"Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Canada and of Her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."
"Elizabeth the Second, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth."
"Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of New Zealand and of Her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."
"Elizabeth the Second, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth."
"Elizabeth the Second, Queen of South Africa and of her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth."
The United Kingdom:
"Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of all her other
realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of