Yukonomist: Our fake fur Queen

The Queen says she won’t be using anymore real fur

Troubling news from our former imperial capital: Queen Elizabeth has stopped wearing real fur, according to her official dresser. Buckingham Palace told the Daily Telegraph that, “As new outfits are designed for the Queen, any fur used will be fake.”

This is a real wave of the disdainful royal hand towards the First Nations and non-indigenous Yukoners who are both subjects of Her Majesty and also stewards of the Yukon’s sustainable and community-based fur industry. As all those Yukoners who enjoyed last year’s Fur Ball know, we’ve been working hard for years to revitalize this critical part of our culture and economy.

So I have a modest counter-proposal: “Any new heads of state should not be real royals.”

We can continue to pay our respects to Queen Elizabeth while she reigns, but then politely decline to continue the monarchy when the prospect of King Charles III looms.

The Queen has earned our respect since her accession in 1952. She has celebrated her 93rd birthday and, sadly, no monarch reigns forever.

The biggest argument in favour of swearing allegiance to Charles III is that it is hard to think of an alternative that we could agree on.

There are a few options. One is to pretend that Queen Elizabeth never died. She visits infrequently and, in reality, the Governor General hasn’t taken orders from the monarch in a very long time. This could go on forever.

Option 2 is to pick a new royal dynasty for Canada. Perhaps we could invite the Gretzkys to come home. Or maybe one of the lesser members of the royal family who haven’t disgraced themselves too publicly.

Option 3 is some kind of republic where the president has about as much power as the Queen or our Governor General. Essentially this is the fake-fur version of a monarchy. Germany and Ireland are examples where this works pretty well.

Making our government officials and citizenship applicants swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth is becoming increasingly embarrassing. One new Canadian once told me that she had steeled herself to swear allegiance to the Queen, but started in alarm when they were reading the text and she heard the words “and her heirs and successors.”

The Charles III problem again. The first two models of King Charles did not go well. Charles I was beheaded after provoking a civil war. Charles II managed not to cause a revolution, but left the kingdom to his brother who did.

The Queen’s fur slight is especially sharp because of the royal family’s historic connection to Canada and its colonial history. Charles II is the monarch who granted a monopoly over the Hudson’s Bay watershed to the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Company eventually stretched its claims west over what they called the North-Western Territory, which includes today’s Yukon, before selling it to the Dominion of Canada in 1870.

The company even had to pay the monarch in fur. Here’s one clause of the 1670 royal charter: “Yielding and paying yearly to us and our heirs and successors for the same two Elks and two Black beavers whensoever and as often as We, our heirs and successors shall happen to enter into the said Countries, Territories and Regions hereby granted.”

I suppose we could just shrug it off. The monarchy today is part of our celebrity culture, and we don’t really care when some Hollywood star tweets about fur.

We can put it down to the monarchy trying to maintain its popularity in fur-averse Britain, where royal pollsters must be worried about support for Charles III in the dynasty’s core market.

It’s just too bad they picked fur for their media announcement. I’d take their commitment to the environment more seriously if they hosted vegan state dinners and stopped flying around in private jets.

And the Queen will still be wearing fur sometimes. According to the Telegraph, she will still wear fur “in instances where it is required as part of her royal duties, such as state events where she wears ceremonial robes made of fur.”

But given the monarchy’s official status, and the damage their blithe virtue signalling is likely to do to real families in northern Canada, I think we should do something.

Perhaps a small revolution would be just the thing.

You don’t often get to quote the Sex Pistols in an economics and business column, but perhaps Johnny Rotten summed it up best in the last stanza of God Save the Queen : “No future, no future, no future for you.”

Keith Halliday is a Yukon economist and author of the MacBride Museum’s Aurore of the Yukon series of historical children’s adventure novels. He is a Ma Murray award-winner for best columnist and received the bronze for Outstanding Columnist in the 2019 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

Yukonomist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read