excerpted from Financial Times August 16, 2011 9:18 pm Royalty restored to Canada’s armed forces By Bernard Simon in Toronto
Canada has restored a touch of royalty to its armed forces, demonstrating renewed affection for the British monarchy and underlining the military’s growing political clout.
Peter MacKay, defence minister, announced on Tuesday that the navy and air force, known for more than three decades as Maritime Command and Air Command respectively, would revert to their earlier names of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.
Also following the British example, the army, formerly called the Land Force Command, will again become the Canadian Army.
The switch, urged for years by veterans’ and other military groups, comes a month after a hugely successful tour of Canada by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the couple’s first foreign trip since their wedding last spring.
Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and now vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, described the move as “part of a much bigger effort that touches not just the military to remind Canadians that they have a rich heritage of which the monarchy is an important piece”.
Canada’s ruling Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, have given high priority to the military since taking office in 2006. The government has ordered a new fleet of F-35 Lightning fighters and three big C-17 transport aircraft, as well as plans for a big new icebreaker to help assert Ottawa’s sovereignty over the Arctic. Canada has no aircraft carriers.
More symbolically, the government named Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, an honorary admiral and general on his 90th birthday in June.
At a time of public spending restraint, “this is something you can do that doesn’t cost anything”, Mr Robertson said, adding that the military’s profile has risen further since the Conservatives turned their minority government into a majority in last spring’s election.