In Canada, the monarch is habitually, albeit erroneously, considered a figurehead in the nation’s system of government. In fact, in a constitutional monarchy, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s capacity as head of state means that her position is substantive, not merely superficial. Certainly, the Constitution affirms that all executive authority is vested in her. Therefore, it is important to realize the scope and substance of the sovereign’s authority which is often underappreciated. We trace the development of the Crown in Canada, in particular the changes the institution experienced as the country progressed from remote colonial outpost to independent nation. Most importantly, we assess the Crown’s institutional function by explaining the statutory, prerogative, and reserve powers, and conclude with some reflections on the future of the institution in Canada.
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