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Jack Knox: Republicans be damned — the Queen rules

They’re whooping it up for the Queen in Britain, celebrating her 70 years on the throne.
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The Queen in May. Jack Knox writes that if the monarchy disappears in Canada, it’s as likely to fall victim to indifference as active opposition. In April, an Angus Reid Institute poll showed half of all Canadians find the institution personally irrelevant and another quarter think it’s becoming less relevant. Andrew Matthews/Pool via AP

They’re whooping it up for the Queen in Britain, celebrating her 70 years on the throne.

Here in Victoria, it’s a bit more subdued: The Platinum Jubilee will be marked by Changing of the Guard ceremonies at Government House over the next three weekends. Starting at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday and Sunday, eight soldiers will remain in rotation until 4 p.m.

Also, free public concerts on the Government House lawn on July 7, 14 and 21 will be dedicated to Her Majesty.

Also, MP Elizabeth May will host Saanich Peninsula monarchists at a commemorative event in Sidney on Saturday.

Also, local Soroptimists celebrated the Jubilee last night by hosting a dinner for 60 elderly people in Colwood. That’s about it, though, reflecting the gradually fading visibility of the monarchy in Canada.

Also, Raven Baroque will give 10 free concerts in honour of the Jubilee, beginning July 1.

The Queen remains on the $20 bill, but has disappeared from other banknotes. Few postage stamps bear her image anymore. Schools are no longer required to display her picture. Nor does her portrait gaze down serenely from the end of every hockey rink, her teeth blacked out by deflected pucks, leaving her with a smile like Bobby Clarke’s.

You don’t see hospitals being named Royal Jubilee these days. No more does each morning begin with the singing of God Save the Queen, not unless you want to alarm the other bus ­passengers. News media refer to Elizabeth II as “the Queen of England,” as though she were not the Queen of Canada, too. We are one election away from changing Victoria’s name to Leningrad.

It’s tempting to blame this on the corrosive effect of groups that actively oppose the monarchy. They have names like Citizens for a Canadian Republic or the Humourless Bastards Who Should Devote This Kind of Energy to Real Problems, and are peopled by the same wretched, raisin-hearted, grim-lipped, dour, judgmental fun-suckers (not that I mean that in a negative way) who call the cops to break up street hockey games. (Actually, I should be more kind; it’s not their fault that they are dead inside, their souls devoid of any hint of romance or poetry.)

Republicans like to argue that Canada is no longer a British colony, as if we didn’t know this, and that our monarchy is an illogical anachronism, as though that were a surprise, too.

Is the Canadian monarchy an illogical anachronism? Of course it is. All monarchies are, including those where the monarchs don’t live an ocean away from the nations over which they ­preside.

So what? Logic is highly overrated, particularly when you consider the alternative, which is to become another cookie-cutter McCountry where patriotism gets confused with the kind of uncritical fealty that is relatively benign when directed to a figurehead, but downright dangerous when accorded anyone with real power. Treat Donald Trump like a king, and next thing you know you’re painted blue and standing in the middle of the Capitol Building wearing a big fur hat with horns.

Our illogical monarchy sets us apart, serves as a bulwark against cultural imperialism from the behemoth to the south, the one that has already overwhelmed us to the point that our protesters bleat about being denied their “first amendment rights.”

The thing is, if the monarchy disappears in Canada, it’s as likely to fall victim to indifference as active opposition. A shrug, not a shaking fist.

In April, an Angus Reid ­Institute poll showed half of all Canadians find the institution personally irrelevant and another quarter think it’s becoming less relevant. Change might be distant, but appears ineluctable. The same poll showed half don’t think future generations of Canadians should be governed by a constitutional monarchy. A quarter want the status quo. The rest aren’t sure.

Their feelings might be influenced by who’s on the job. The Queen and her grandson Prince William are viewed favourably by most Canadians, but only one third would support recognizing William’s dad Prince Charles as our head of state after the Queen dies. Think of the line of succession as a concert in which the Beatles and Rolling Stones are sandwiched around Nickelback.

Another key finding: Canadians have an “apparent and relatively deep affection” for the Queen, the only monarch that most of us have ever known.

Just think of what she has been through since the weight of the crown fell upon her, unexpectedly, in 1952, just five months after the 25-year-old paid the first of what would be seven trips to Victoria.

Think of the human being under that crown.

jknox@timescolonist.com