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'Royal' Title Restored to Canada's Navy & Airforce

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'Royal' Title Restored to Canada's Navy & Airforce

Posted: 1344180894000
Classification: Military
Edited: 1344181589000
Source: Adam Day, Legion Magazine, Nov/Dec 2011 issue, p.87


By Adam Day

In a move certain to be popular with veterans across Canada, this August the government announced that the Navy and the Air Force would be reunited with their historic "Royal" designations.

According to Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, the renaming was intended to correct a "historic mistake," which was to drop the Royal designation in the first place. As of August 2010, Maritime Command, Land Forces Command and Air Command will be renamed the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

"Restoring these historic identities is an important way of reconnecting today's men and women in uniform with the proud history and traditions they carry with them as members of the Canadian Forces," said MacKay. "A country forgets its past at its own peril. From Vimy Ridge to the Battle of the Atlantic and from Korea to the defence of Europe during the Cold War, the proud legacy of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force will once again serve as a timeless link between our veterans and serving soldiers, sailors and air personnel."

Dominion President Pat Varga said The Royal Canadian Legion is pleased with the return of the traditional names. "It is quite an emotional issue for our members," said Varga. "We recognize the importance of tradition and our enduring links to the Royal Crown. From a personal perspective, I have served in the Royal Canadian Navy, as did my father, so this issue is very close to my heart."

Varga said the Legion's only concern was costs associated with the move would not detract from operational or quality of life budgets. However, she said she had been assured that will not be the case.

"I am extremely proud of our men and women in uniform and even more proud to be honouring the rich history of our military," said the Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk. "By restoring the historic designations of the Canadian Armed Forces, we are continuing to show unified strength here at home, and abroad."

The royal designations disappeared Feb. 1, 1968, when the RCN, the RCAF and the Canadian Army became officially known as Maritime Command, Land Force Command and Air Command.

The following information comes directly from the Department of National Defence.

"The history of the 'Royal' designation was long and storied, particularly for the Navy. The Naval Service Act was proposed in the House of Commons in January 1910, and became law on May 4, 1910, establishing the Naval Service of Canada. On Jan. 30, 1911, the Government of Canada, under Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, officially requested the designation of 'Royal' for the Canadian navy from the United Kingdom. The decision took place during the Imperial Defence Conference which coincided with the coronation of King George V in June 1911.

"The letter announcing the bestowing of the 'Royal' designation was dispatched from the Colonial Office in London, dated Aug. 16, 1911. It was received by His Excellency Albert Henry George Grey, Governor General to the Government of Canada on Aug. 29, 1911. The awarding of the Royal Canadian Navy title was accepted as a great honour by Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, as he believed it was a major step in Canada's growing autonomy."

The history of the RCAF goes back almost as far. King George V bestowed the Royal designation on the Canadian Air Force in 1923, but the title only became official when the King's Regulations and Orders were promulgated on April 1, 1924.

Many Commonwealth nations, besides the United Kingdom, use the Royal designation for their military forces. These include Antingua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and St. Lucia.

[PHOTO/Caption: Arriving for the announcement in Halifax are (from Left) Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Chief of Maritime Staff Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison and Chief Petty Officer Claud Laurendeau.]

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