Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are splitting from the British royal family and moving to Canada. Did you know they are the royal family of Canada, too?

It was a number of years ago when I first learned or at least had it refocused in my mind that Canada had the same royal family as the British. Canada is a neighbor to Massachusetts and the other states of New England. I have been there many times and we all see Canadian license plates on the local roads in the summer. The late Governor of Massachusetts Paul Cellucci was the Ambassador to Canada for President George W. Bush.

As close as Canada is to us, it is unlikely that most Americans understand just how much political power the Canadian royal family has in that country.

The British royal family isn't the Canadian royal family, except that they are. When the British royal family is in Canada, they go by their titles as the Canadian royal family. It is the same people but they are different depending on what country they are in at the time they are conducting themselves as members of a royal family.

The current Queen of Canada (also the current Queen of England) has significant powers in the government in Canada as the official Head of State and appoints the Governor-General to serve as her representative in Canada.

The role of the royal family of Canada can realistically never be changed given the manner in which change can come about. According to the royal family, "any change to the position of The Queen or her representatives in Canada now requires the unanimous consent of the Senate, the House of Commons and the legislatures of all the provinces."

A single member of the Canadian Senate, House of Commons, or a local legislator in a province can object and preserve the power of the monarchy.

The Queen's representative appoints the members of the Canadian Senate at the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Canadians don't elect their senators.

The royals also have a strong position in the provincial legislatures, too. "The ten provinces of Canada each have a separate Parliament and administration, with a Lieutenant-Governor representing The Queen, appointed by the Governor-General in Council, at the head of the executive."

The Queen is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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