Canada has changed the official royal title of King Charles III in a controversial move described as a “break from tradition.”
The King’s official title in Canada will no longer include the “defender of the faith” role and will no longer reference the United Kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth was officially titled: “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
But The King’s new title will be “Charles the Third, by the Grace of God King of Canada and His other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.”
Richard Deacon, a retired Archdeacon of the Diocese of Saskatoon, has said the change is “very significant” as it was a “historic departure from tradition.”
The change came this week as part of a bill which was included in the Canadian Government’s new budget, which will change the Royal Styles and Titles Act in Canada, and officially alter the monarch’s official title.
Annie Cullinan, director of communications for the King’s Privy Council in Canada, said: “As we prepare for the coronation of the new monarch, a decision was made to modernise the title to bring Canada in line with other Commonwealth countries, including Australia.”
The title “Defender of the Faith” has been used by the monarch since 1543, after King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and became the head of the Church of England.
Other Commonwealth countries have different official titles for the monarchy, as in Australia King Charles is styled as “by the Grace of God, King of Australia and His other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.”
Canada originally chose to include the phrase “Defender of the Faith” so the monarch would be a defender of faith in general, but not the protector of a state religion as Canada does not have one.
Archbishop Linda Nicholls, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has said that King Charles has “in the past spoken of being a ‘defender of faith’ in Britain, recognizing the spiritual rights all faiths practised there and not just the Christian faith.”
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, the Archbishop: “The change to his title in Canada recognizes the limitations of his role in a multicultural, multi-faith country.”
King Charles in 1994 commented on the title of “Defender of the Faith” and said: “I personally would rather see [my future role] as Defender of Faith, not the Faith”
However, King Charles later clarified in 2015 that “while at the same time being Defender of the Faith you can also be protector of faiths”.
Constitutional expert Professor Andrew Heard has said that Canada changing the King’s title marked “a break from tradition” but reflected Canada’s view of the monarchy.
Professor Heard said: “There is a greater sensitivity to both pluralism and secularism in Canada and there is a desire not to align the monarch with a particular faith, The King is in no way the head of the Anglican Church in Canada.”
The title change comes after a Canadian opinion poll found that 55 percent of Canadians supported becoming a Republic, with 41 percent “strongly” backing the idea.
However, 21 percent of Canadians still supported having a monarchy, and women were more likely than men to have a favourable view of the Royal Family
Mainstreet Research conducted the survey, and the results were published in November 2022. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it is not the time to open a conditional debate about the monarchy.
While in Britain for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, Mr Trudeau said: “There’s a nice balance to the system we have that I think is going to continue to serve Canadians extraordinarily well.”
He added: “For me, it’s not a priority. It’s not even something that I consider discussing.
“To make such a profound change in a system that is among the best, the most stable in the world, for me, now, it’s not a good idea.”