Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II accepts Royal Appointment as Colonel-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Legal Branch

News Release / June 3, 2013 / Project number: NR 13.181

Ottawa: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, has graciously consented to serve as the first Colonel-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces' Legal Branch.

The announcement of this appointment comes on the day following the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation as Queen in Westminster Abbey.  The appointment is a highly symbolic reflection of The Queen’s coronation oath that included an oath "to cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all judgements" throughout her reign.  In essence, the acceptance of the appointment by Her Majesty  is a mark of tremendous honour for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and, equally, a  reaffirmation of loyalty and duty to The Queen on the part of the CAF.

"Sixty years ago, Her Majesty took an oath to effect law and justice in all her duties; an oath she has carried out faithfully and to the admiration of all Canadians," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "Her Majesty's acceptance of the appointment as the Canadian Armed Forces Legal Branch's Colonel-in-Chief position reinforces the historic and warm relationships that Canadian Armed Forces units, organizations, and members enjoy with Members of the Royal Family."

In 1911, Canada's first Judge Advocate General was appointed.  Supported by a small cadre of officers, Major-General Henry Smith held that appointment throughout most of the First World War.  In 1918, the Legal Branch was officially established.

"The acceptance of this Royal Appointment by Her Majesty is a crowning milestone in the Legal Branch's long and distinguished history of providing professional legal services to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, in matters relating to military law," said Captain (Navy) Geneviève Bernatchez, Branch Advisor.

Her Majesty the Queen is Colonel-in-Chief of eleven other regiments, branches and units of the Canadian Armed Forces dating back to 1952 - the year of her accession to the Throne.

The position of Colonel-in-Chief is a Royal Appointment - an honorary title normally reserved for the Sovereign and Members of the Canadian Royal Family. 

Although its origins can be traced back to the British Army, the appointment of Royal Colonels-in-Chief has been an integral and proud aspect of the life of numerous Canadian regiments, branches and units for over a century.  The Colonel-in Chief is the guardian of history and traditions and serves to promote ethos, identity and pride in service.

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Note to Editors / News Directors:  The Canadian Forces Legal Branch backgrounder is available at: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4820