US & Canada

Canadian armed forces to be 'royal' once again

Canadian and American troops salute in Afghanistan
Image caption Canadian troops have served in in Afghanistan alongside American and British forces

The "royal" prefix has been restored to Canada's air and sea forces, the country's defence minister has said.

The Canadian Forces Maritime and Air commands are now known as the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force. Land Force Command is now the Canadian army.

The labels are a nod to the Canadian military's "proud history and traditions", Defence Minister Peter MacKay said.

The "royal" label was removed in 1968 in a command restructuring.

"Restoring these historic identities is an important way of reconnecting today's men and women in uniform with the proud history and traditions they carry with them as members of the Canadian Forces," Mr MacKay said on Tuesday.

"A country forgets its past at its own peril. From Vimy Ridge to the Battle of the Atlantic and from Korea to the defence of Europe during the Cold War, the proud legacy of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force will once again serve as a timeless link between our veterans and serving soldiers, sailors and air personnel."

Recruiting materials for the Canadian armed forces already reflect the changes.

The branches of the Canadian military lost the "royal" label in 1968 when they were unified under a single command structure called Canadian Forces.

Republican disapproval

Canada, a former British colony, became a self-governing dominion in 1867 but retained its ties to the British monarchy, represented in Canada by the governor general.

Analysts say the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is one of the strongest pro-monarchy administrations in recent memory.

But the change in military nomenclature was met on Tuesday with disapproval from Canadians who say the country should cast off its ties to the British monarchy.

"This isn't the 1950s, nor do we have 1950s values," said Tom Freda, spokesman for Citizens for a Canadian Republic.

"Canada has been accustomed to moving away from colonialist symbols, not toward them. I can't imagine the mainstream public in 2011 seeing this decision as positive."

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