There hasn't been much interesting head of state news recently. The main thrust of this blog is keeping track of who's coming to power and winning elections around the world, but there hasn't been any developments of that sort over the last few days. A couple of interesting elections are just around the corner, however, so things should start to pick up.
Canada continues slow march to independence
When I was in Texas this summer, people would ask me why my country (Canada) still had the Queen's face on our money. I explained to my American friends that it was because we Canadians had an evolution not a revolution, which is some trite phrase I picked up somewhere. The idea is that while the United States made a "clean break" with its colonial power Canada did not, and instead had to slowly evolve from a colony into a sovereign country through a series of piecemental constitutional reforms.
And that gradual process continues to this day. Like a cluttered attic, the Canadian state still contains many colonial-era relics which need to be thrown out at some point in the future, as we continue to build an indepedent national identity. Most of these relics relate to the British monarchy, and British monarch, a woman who will remember still serves as Canada's legal head of state.
As head of state, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, is also the supreme commander of the Canadian armed forces. The Canadian military remains very much tied to a culture of monarchism and royal servitude, a fact which is well reflected in many of the names, symbols, and traditions of the armed forces. Like most militaries, the Canadian forces are divided into many different regiments, and traditionally one of the Queen's uninteresting children or cousins have always served as symbolic "Colonel-in-Chief" of each one. They don't do much, maybe just visit "their" troops once every decade or so. But they do serve as an important symbolic link of subservience between British royalty and the Canadian soldiers.
But not anymore! The Minister of Defense has now appointed the first-ever Canadian colonel-in-chief to head Canada's second-oldest military regiment, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. To ease the royal transition, the new colonel will be Adrienne Clarskon, a woman who served as governor-general of Canada from 1999 to 2005. As the Queen's personal envoy in Canada (though appointed by the Canadian prime minister) the governor-general of Canada serves as the nation's symbolic commander-in-chief, the highest military rank behind the Queen herself. When she was in power, Ms. Clarkson took her C-in-C duties more seriously than most of her predecessors, traveling overseas to visit army camps in Afghanistan and elsewhere. For this, she apparently "endeared" herself to the armed forces, or so the Minister says.
Clarkson will be replacing Lady Patricia Brabourne, a British aristocrat who is the eldest daughter of the late Lord Louis Mountbatten. Her father was most famous for being the last Viceroy of India, before being killed by the IRA.
Clarkson herself was born a British subject in the colony of Hong Kong. She was the first governor-general born outside of Canada or Britain.