Her Honour inspects the guard

 FAQs and protocol

General questions

Check for answers to freque​ntly asked questions relating to the role of the Lieutenant Governor and Canada’s system of government.

Skip to an explanation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council


Find answers to some common questions concerning protocol and traditional courtesies.

Skip to questions about protocol​​​​​​​​

General questions

Who appoints the Lieutenan​t Governor?

Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada and the federal Cabinet (Governor General in Council).

See more: Appointment and installation of the Lieutenant Governor

What is the relationship between the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor General?

While the Governor General in Council appoints the Lieutenant Governor and represents the Crown on a national basis, it is settled law that the Governor General and Lieutenant Governor are equally representatives of the Sovereign in their jurisdictions. Provinces are constitutionally autonomous and the Lieutenant Governor possesses all the prerogative powers of the Crown for the purposes of government in Ontario.

Originally, Lieutenant Governors were held to be representatives of federal interests. Since the late 1800s, various court decisions have clarified this relationship, and subsequent constitutional evolution has given rise to the present-day understanding in which the federal government does not provide the Lieutenant Governor with direction as to their conduct in office and exercise of their constitutional responsibilities.

The presence of the Sovereign or the Governor General, or both, does not at any time diminish or negate the constitutional or legal authority of the Lieutenant Governor within their own province. The relative precedence accorded to the Lieutenant Governor or the Governor General at official functions is determined by established protocol and may vary depending on the nature of the occasion such as whether the event is hosted by the federal or provincial government and where it is held.

How long is the Lieutenant Governor’s term?

According to section 59 of the Constitution Act, 1867, the Lieutenant Governor holds office “during the pleasure of the Governor General”. Essentially, this means that the Lieutenant Governor continues in office until a successor is appointed by the Governor General in Council and sworn in.

Lieutenant Governors are not removable from office within five years of their appointment, except for cause, in which case notification must be sent to the Lieutenant Governor (one month in advance) and to the Senate and House of Commons (within one week following the next sitting of Parliament).

What happens if the Lieutenant Governor is away or ill?

Under section 67 of the Constitution Act, 1867, if the Lieutenant Governor is absent from Toronto, ill, or unable to perform the required constitutional duties, the Administrator of the Government of Ontario can act at the request of Her Honour or the provincial government.

Starting in 1958, the Chief Justice of Ontario has held a standing appointment as Administrator of the Government. If the Chief Justice is not available, another judge from the Ontario Courts is appointed by the Governor General in Council to act as Administrator for that period.

What is the Lieutenant Governor in Council?

References to the Lieutenant Governor in Council appear in many government documents such as statutes. Both the Constitution Act, 1867 (section 66) and the Legislation Act, 2006 (section 87) define the Lieutenant Governor in Council as the Lieutenant Governor “acting by and with the advice of the Executive Council”.

Much like how bills of the Legislative Assembly require Royal Assent from the Lieutenant Governor before becoming acts, many decisions of the Executive Council (Cabinet) are made in the form of “advice” to the Lieutenant Governor and require formal approval. Such decisions, called Orders-in-Council, are said to be made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and are subject to judicial review.

In our system of responsible government​, the Premier and ministers make recommendations and advise the Lieutenant Governor on the use of the Crown’s authority under the constitution and other laws. So long as the government enjoys the confidence of the Legislative Assembly, this advice is invariably accepted and legitimized by the Crown.

Members of the public wanting the Lieutenant Governor to act upon their behalf should contact the appropriate ministry of the Government of Ontario. A list of ministers responsible for provincial acts may be found on the e-Laws website. Those wishing to make a complaint about an Ontario government service should contact the Ombudsman of Ontario. Those who chose to write the Lieutenant Governor regarding these matters will receive a reply directing them to the appropriate ministry.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Why does the Lieutenant Governor always have military escorts?

The men and women in uniform who accompany the Lieutenant Governor as volunteers at official functions are called aides-de-camp. This tradition has existed since the beginning of Confederation. Each year, these volunteers contribute thousands of hours of service during a variety of functions. Aides-de-camp also accompany the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governors of the other provinces, and the territorial commissioners.

Why does the Lieutenant Governor represent Queen Elizabeth II?

Under our constitution, Her Majesty is the Queen of Canada. Incidentally, Elizabeth II is also queen of 15 other countries. At the federal level, her representative is the Governor General. At the provincial level, it is the Lieutenant Governor.

What is Royal Assent?

Royal Assent is the final step of the legislative process, the formal means by which a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly becomes law. It is only once Royal Assent has been given that a bill becomes an act and forms part of the laws of Ontario. In addition to being a necessary part of the legislative process, Royal Assent has strong symbolic significance in Canada. It is the moment during the legislative process when the two constituent elements of the Legislative Assembly, the Lieutenant Governor and the members of the Assembly, join together to conclude the law-making process. It is a manifestation of the Crown-in-Parliament.

More information: Royal Assent

Protocol-related questions

How should I pronounce Lieutenant Governor?

IPA: /lɛf'tɛnənt/ In Canadian English, one pronounces the first syllable of lieutenant as “left”. This pronunciation is regarded as standard and is typical throughout the Commonwealth.

While the variant /lu'tɛnənt/ (first syllable rhyming with “do”) is heard from time to time, it is regarded by many to be an Americanism and is discouraged. Both pronunciations are attested from the 14th century, though the origins of the difference remain unknown.

What is the Vice-Regal Salute?

The Vice-Regal Salute (officially known as the Salute to the Lieutenant Governor) is a musical greeting performed in the presence of The Queen’s representative as a mark of respect. It consists of the first six bars of the royal anthem, “God Save The Queen”, followed by a short version (the first four bars and the last four bars) of the national anthem, “O Canada”. It is customary for pipe bands to play the song “Mallorca” instead.

​​It is played at the opening of the Legislative Assembly, military march-pasts, and other events attended by the Lieutenant Governor. Because it is a salute to the Lieutenant Governor, the audience does not sing either of the abbreviated anthems when the Vice-Regal Salute is played. It is played when the Lieutenant Governor reaches the dais at ceremonial functions, or his or her seat in the case of other events.

The Vice-Regal Salute was approved by The Queen in 1968. The same salute is used for the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors of the nine other provinces.


How do I wear my medals?

Whether or not you should wear your medals to a function is dependent upon the wishes of the event organizer. Usually, an invitation to a formal event will say if medals are to be worn. Generally, full-sized medals are worn during the day, and miniatures at night.

For detailed information about the correct ways to wear medals and decorations, refer to the Governor General’s website.

According to law, medals must only be worn by those to whom they have been awarded.

How do I address The Queen?

Traditionally, one bows slightly from the neck when meeting The Queen, though women may curtsey. Nowadays, handshakes are perfectly in order when meeting The Queen, provided that she offers her hand first. When addressing The Queen for the first time, refer to her as “Your Majesty” and as “Ma’am” in subsequent conversation. It is not necessary for ladies to wear a hat or gloves in the presence of Her Majesty.

How do I address other members of the Royal Family?

When meeting a member of the Royal Family, it is traditional to bow slightly from the neck, though women may curtsey. Nowadays, handshakes are perfectly in order, provided that the member of the Royal Family offers their hand first. When addressing a member of the Royal Family, refer to them first as “Your Royal Highness” and as “Ma’am” or “Sir” in subsequent conversation. It is not necessary for ladies to wear a hat or gloves in the presence of members of the Royal Family.

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