King Charles coronation education? Not much in Canada

Prior to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, Kenneth Munroe’s sophomore class studied the history of the monarchy, staged a play about the royal family, and taught all 700 students at Kenneth Munroe’s school in Northern Ontario. heard the Queen’s oath live on the radio.

But as Prince Charles is officially crowned on May 6, school boards across the country contacted by The Canadian Press said they have no specific plans or dedicated curriculum to mark the occasion. rice field.

Munroe, a retired former history professor at the University of Alberta, recalls the crepe paper robe with cotton balls and buntings he wore when he was 7 when he was cast as Prince Philip, the upcoming Queen’s husband. rice field. Performance at his school in Longrack, Ontario.

“The whole community really turned to this event, even at school, so you couldn’t get away from it,” Munro, 77, said.

“We were so immersed in the coronation lore that we felt like we were part of this great celebration.”

Beyond the apparent lack of pomp, observers say there is a bigger problem with the Canadian school’s understated approach to the upcoming coronation.

Feelings about the monarchy’s rightful place and governance in Canadian society are becoming increasingly complex, but the coronation offers an opportunity to inform the public about the institution, says Nathan of the Canadian Institute for Crown Studies. Deputy Director Tidridge said.

It’s a “key moment” that Canadian schools aren’t taking advantage of, said Tidridge, who is also a 10th grade civics teacher in the Hamilton area.

“It’s a chance to talk about all sorts of things: colonial structure, the relationship between the royal family and indigenous peoples, what the royal family is doing in this country,” he said.

“We could have talked and had a conversation, but unfortunately it’s not happening.”

Munroe said 70 years ago, students would have struggled to avoid talking about the monarchy.

“We had pictures of the Queen in the classroom, Prince Philip, and actually Prince Charles and Princess Anne.” “

As the 1953 coronation approached, everyone in the school was given a coin bearing the image of the Queen.

After hearing the ceremony on the radio, he “went to the schoolyard where the ceremony was taking place and sang and danced and heard speeches from local dignitaries.”

A celebratory atmosphere also existed in other school districts, according to archival sources and officials.

Rebecca Mitchell, curator of the York Area School Board’s Heritage Schoolhouse Museum and Archives, said the board had a special program for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and her father George’s succession to the throne in 1937. .

She said board records show that throughout the 20th century “it was a tradition in York County to close schools for the coronation of the British monarch”. “It was expected,” Mitchell said.

“Parades, choirs, and training demonstrations are consistently shown in student activity records,” she said. will be broken.”

Tidridge said it contrasted with Charles’ coronation.

That’s a problem, he argued, arguing that “coronations and crowns in general are of essential importance to the Commonwealth, whether people like it or not.”

“What I fear is that there is this[coronation]and many people are watching it and have nothing to do with it and don’t understand. It’s the very foundation of our Commonwealth,” Tidridge said.

He argued that citizens were ill-informed about the functioning of the monarchy in public life in Canada and what a transition to a republic entailed, citing the usefulness of surveys asking people whether they wanted to remain in the Commonwealth. questioned.

“It’s important that the feds understand what we’re messing around with and what we have,” he said. “And we can have that conversation. This is an important conversation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 27, 2023.

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