Protocol and symbols

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According to the Table of Titles to be used in Canada, the Lieutenant Governor is entitled to be addressed as “Her Honour” or “His Honour” while in office, and is styled “the Honourable” for life. Therefore, the full title of the current Lieutenant Governor is Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

In conversation, one traditionally addresses the Lieutenant Governor as “Your Honour” initially, and subsequently as “Ma’am” or “Sir”. When mentioning the Lieutenant Governor, it is traditional to refer to her or him as “Her Honour” or “His Honour”.

Pronunciation of “Lieutenant”

In Canadian English, lieutenant is pronounced /lɛf’tɛnənt/ (the first syllable 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.

Viceregal Salute

The Salute to the Lieutenant Governor (often known as the Viceregal Salute) is a musical greeting performed in the presence of The King’s representative as a mark of respect. The audience does not sing when the salute is played. Approved by Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1968, it consists of the first six bars of the Royal anthem, “God Save The King”, followed by a short version (the first four bars and the last four bars) of the national anthem, “O Canada”. Pipe bands customarily play the song “Mallorca” instead.


Military honours

The Lieutenant Governor is entitled to be saluted by those in uniform. A guard of honour of up to 100 persons may be accorded to the Lieutenant Governor on significant occasions in Ontario. Other military honours, including a 15-gun salute, may be given at the opening, prorogation, and dissolution of the Legislature, and when making an official visit to a military saluting base in Ontario.

4th Canadian Division change of command ceremony
The Lieutenant Governor attends a change of command ceremony for the 4th Canadian Division



Lieutenant Governor’s emblem

The official emblem of the Lieutenant Governor is a heraldic badge consisting of the shield of Ontario’s coat of arms, surrounded by a circled of ten stylized maple leaves representing the ten provinces of Canada. The shield contains three golden maples leaves, representing Canada, on a green background. On top is the Cross of St George, the patron saint of England. Above the shield is the St Edward’s Crown, signifying that the emblem belongs to The King’s representative. As is customary, permission was granted by Queen Elizabeth the Second to employ this royal crown. The emblem is used on stationery and other items produced and used by the office.


Lieutenant Governor’s flag of office

The Lieutenant Governor’s flag, sometimes called the viceregal standard, is a royal blue flag with the Lieutenant Governor’s emblem at the centre. It was approved by the Governor General in the name of Queen Elizabeth the Second on May 13, 1981. The flag flew for the first time on July 3, 1981 on the occasion of a visit to Queen’s Park by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The flag is a personal flag and is flown to mark the Lieutenant Governor’s presence. It may be mounted on the car in which the Lieutenant Governor travels, and may be flown at public buildings, Canadian Forces establishments, and on His Majesty’s Canadian Ships during official visits.

The flag takes precedence over all others in Ontario, including the national flag of Canada, except in the presence of The King, when The King’s Personal Canadian Flag is flown instead. It also precedes that of the Governor General in cases where the Lieutenant Governor is hosting an event at which the Governor General is present. The flag is never lowered to half-mast; on the death of the Lieutenant Governor, it is taken down until a successor is installed.

The flag is registered in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada.

Great Seal of Ontario

Great Seal of Ontario

The Great Seal of Ontario is used on official documents such as proclamations and commissions appointing public officials. Each time a new Lieutenant Governor is installed, he or she is also sworn in as Keeper of the Great Seal.

At the end of a ministry, the Great Seal is returned to the Lieutenant Governor. When a new ministry is sworn in, the Lieutenant Governor entrusts the seal to the responsible minister (currently the Minister of Government and Consumer Services) for safekeeping and day-to-day use. Upon the minister leaving office, the seal is returned and then presented to his or her successor. The presentation of the seal by the Lieutenant Governor symbolizes the transfer of power to the new administration.

Great Seals are one of the oldest and most venerated instruments in use. Since the earliest days of government, important public documents have been made official through the imprint of a seal. In Canada, the great seals signify the power and authority of the Crown flowing from Sovereign to ministers.

The Great Seal of Ontario was created in 1870. It consists of the British royal arms (Canada had not yet been granted its own coat of arms) surmounted by a crown, with the motto Dieu et mon droit (God and my right). Beneath this is Ontario’s shield of arms. The seal was created in England by the Chief Engraver of Her Majesty’s Seals and a warrant for its use was issued by Queen Victoria.

Privy seal

Lieutenant Governor’s privy seal

The Lieutenant Governor’s privy seal is used on commissions appointing honorary aides-de-camp. The seal features Ontario’s coat of arms and is always impressed through a red wafer (label) affixed to the document being sealed. Until 2002, legislation required certain public appointments and official documents to bear the privy seal.

Vice-Regal Badge

Lieutenant Governor’s privy seal

In January 1999, Queen Elizabeth the Second approved the creation of special badge to recognize persons holding viceregal office and their spouses.

The badge rests on a frame depicting the pointed ends of four stylized maple leaves in red and white enamel, representing the many faceted responsibilities and duties of viceregal office. The more naturalistic maple leaf in the centre represents the personal commitment required of incumbents and their spouses. The Crown surmounts the design, recalling service to the Canadian people and the Crown.

The badge measures approximately 1.5 inches and is struck in sterling silver and is gilded in gold.

The same badge is presented to the spouses of Lieutenant Governors, except that the central maple leaf is in silver instead of gold. Following retirement from office, individuals may continue to wear the badge. There is also a small lapel pin of the insignia.