British Columbia

Royal ruckus over Queen's portrait ends with regal compromise in Sidney, B.C.

The Monarchist League of Canada was royally perturbed over the removal of Queen Elizabeth's portrait from council chambers at Sidney's town hall and plans to replace it with Indigenous Art. Now the mayor promises a middle course.

Town officials listened when monarchist demanded her image return to council chambers

Queen Elizabeth has a lot of fans in the Vancouver Island community of Sidney, B.C. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)

The Monarchist League of Canada was not amused when it learned a portrait of Queen Elizabeth had been removed from council chambers in the Vancouver Island town of Sidney with the intention of replacing it with Indigenous art.

Bruce Hallsor, past chair of the Greater Victoria branch of the league, says town officials told him the Queen's portrait was removed because it represents a relic of colonialism and is inappropriate for modern Canada.

"Quite frankly I could not believe it. Sidney is quite a hotbed of monarchy," he said.

Although the photo was removed in May, no one actually noticed it was missing until late September. 

You must never, ever deliberately scare Her Majesty. It's against the law. (Government of Canada)

Reconciliation effort

However, once word got out the backlash began.

Hallsor said it was explained to him the town is engaged in a process of reconciliation with Aboriginal communities which includes spending $10,000 on Aboriginal art.

He worries, by taking down the portrait that's hung over Sidney's Council Chambers for almost as long as the Queen has been on the throne (she's in her 68th year), it may create the opposite effect of reconciliation.

Council has commissioned a piece by Chazz Elliott, a Coast Salish artist from the Tsartlip Reserve

.A call to Sidney City Hall reveals it has received many calls and e-mails from perturbed monarchists and everyday Islanders. 

'No one offended'

"I don't see any reason why they couldn't be in the same place and to my knowledge no Aboriginal band has said they're offended by her majesty," said Hallsor.

The monarchists say they are especially confused as to why the town of Sidney would remove a photo of the woman, who as Queen of Canada  and under the Constitution, signs statutes which form the laws of our country.

But by Friday the town of Sidney seemed to be having a change of heart.

Portrait to return

Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said he was unavailable to answer any questions but did respond by email with this comment,

"The portrait of the Queen will return to the walls of our Council Chambers upon a commissioned piece of First Nations art being completed, likely in early December.   I believe the Town of Sidney's Council Chambers will be more inclusive by acknowledging both our local First Nations and our Constitutional Monarchy." ​​​​​​

McNeil-Smith would not say whether the Queen will resume her original position, reigning over council chambers, or if the new Indigenous art piece will take centre stage, but together they will share the space.