The Role of the Monarch

Canada’s Monarch (King or Queen) is also Monarch of 15 other independent nations. The Monarch, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoints a Canadian to represent him or her in Canada. This person is called the Governor General.

The Governor General has several duties related to Parliament. He or she appoints the Prime Minister as Head of Government and opens a new session of Parliament with the Speech from the Throne in the Senate Chamber. This is a ceremonial speech, written by the Privy Council Office, in which the Governor General describes the goals of the new Government. He or she also dissolves Parliament, and gives Royal Assent to bills passed in Parliament.

The role of the Governor General also includes:

  • serving as Commander-in-Chief of Canada (of the Canadian Forces)
  • hosting foreign dignitaries and visiting other countries at the request of the Prime Minister
  • celebrating excellence by giving awards to outstanding Canadians

The Governor General has two official homes where he or she lives and works: Rideau Hall in Ottawa, not far from Parliament Hill, and the Citadelle in Quebec City.


The Stanley Cup, the highest prize in the National Hockey League, was a gift from Canada’s sixth Governor General, Baron (Lord) Stanley of Preston (served 1888–1893). The trophy was originally named the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.”


GOVERN – from the Greek word kybernan, meaning to steer a ship (the same root as the word cyber). Govern is a verb: The King governed well and wisely. Can you think of other words that stem from govern?

MONARCHY – from the Greek monarkhia, meaning ruling of one. It contains two parts: mono-, which means one, and arkhein, which means to rule. Mono is used often in English. Think of these words:

  • monopoly
  • monotonous
  • monologue

-archy sometimes ends words that describe how something is ruled. For example:

  • anarchy
  • hierarchy