The Queen’s Death and the Republican Temptation of Québec

from Stefano Montefiori

If there was a special relationship between the French of France and Elizabeth, relations between the French-speaking Canadians and the British monarchy are very bad

PARIS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a moving tribute to Elizabeth II, whom he met as a child in the company of his father Pierre, then head of the government. From Vancouver to Montral the flags are at half mast due to the disappearance of the woman who was queen (also) of Canada, but the day of national mourning returns to show the divisions between the two souls of the country: if the Anglophone Canadians gather in memory of the beloved Lilibet, the French-speaking ones, majority in Qubec, do not forget the bad relations with the British crown.

For many Canadians of the Qubec, Elizabeth II was the symbol of colonialism and Anglo-Saxon oppression on the lands that were once part of Nouvelle France, New France, which came under the rule of England in 1763 after the defeat of Paris in the war of the Seven Years. Hailed in the rest of Canada, in Qubec the queen was greeted by whistles and protests during her visit in 1964. His death, and the accession to the British throne of Charles III, revive the independence sentiment of the Qubec, which in the flag has the lily of the Bourbons, certainly not the Union Jack.

In the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir, the article The Queen of Canada seen from the Qubec begins with this sentence: Queen for 70 years, Elizabeth II still does not hold the longevity record of a sovereign over Canada. Louis XIV, the Sun King, to have reigned the longest in the territory of this name: 72 years. Just to put the record straight.

In France, Queen Elizabeth II was surrounded by great sympathy, interpreted with enthusiasm in the hours after her death by an Emmanuel Macron. The president paid a moving and inspired tribute to the British sovereign, loved by a French people who cut off the head of her king and Marie Antoinette, but who since then sometimes seems to let herself be taken by nostalgia for monarchical symbols and glories. The British sovereign spoke French perfectly, and while this skill enchanted the public during visits to France, it did not save her from protests on her rare trips to Qubec. In 1964 his arrival led to protests and sit-in by the separatists, beaten by the police in what has since been remembered as the Saturday of the truncheon.

The British crown represented in Canada by a governor general and lieutenants in each of the ten provinces, but in Qubec the prevailing anti-monarchical sentiment and also touches the descendants of Elizabeth: when Prince William and Kate Middleton showed up in Montreal in 1991,
many French speakers welcomed them with banners and the word Parasites.

Although I also offer my condolences to the family, I object to the Qubec nation lowering its flags at half mast – independence leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said two days ago – we should not give credibility to a regime. illegitimate British colonial in Qubec. The question of relations with the United Kingdom and with the Windsors, after the disappearance of Elizabeth II, will play a role in the upcoming elections in Qubec, on 3 October.

September 10, 2022 (change September 10, 2022 | 16:29)

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The Queen’s Death and the Republican Temptation of Québec

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