Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Legal Branch, presented a Royal Banner to the CAF Legal Branch, during a virtual audience held on June 22. The Royal Banner was received by Rear-Admiral Geneviève Bernatchez, Judge Advocate General and senior ranking legal officer.
This Royal Banner was granted to honour the CAF Legal Branch on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
Royal banners are special flags presented to commemorate specific services, are presented as special marks of Royal favour, and designs vary by circumstances.
This live virtual audience was hosted by Her Majesty from Windsor Castle and Rear-Admiral Bernatchez attending from Ottawa.
The Queen also took the opportunity to virtually meet with a small and diverse group of members of the CAF Legal Branch.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my sincere appreciation to Her Majesty The Queen for this special recognition of more than a century of service to Canada, and the Crown, bestowed upon a very deserving Canadian Armed Forces Legal Branch.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
“The Canadian Armed Forces take great pride in the achievements of its Legal Branch during its first 100 years of commitment to Justice in service of Canada. It is an honour to receive a Royal Banner from Her Majesty commemorating this important milestone; reflecting the service of many legal officers and their families, past and present.”
Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, Acting Chief of the Defence Staff
“As the senior ranking legal officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, it was my honour and pleasure to have received this Royal Banner from Her Majesty on behalf of all members of the Legal Branch, past and present, who, for more than one hundred years, have served Canada with professionalism, expertise and honour. Whether on operations, in the courtroom, or supporting the CAF in myriad complex challenging situations, the CAF Legal Branch and its members have and will continue to serve with an unyielding commitment to justice and the rule of law.”
Rear-Admiral Geneviève Bernatchez, Judge Advocate General
This was the first event during which Her Majesty has granted an audience with the CAF since the beginning of the pandemic.
This is the tenth presentation of a Royal Banner to a CAF element in history. The last presentation of a Royal Banner was to the Royal Canadian Dental Corps by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester in 2015.
Her Majesty granted this virtual audience as the Colonel-in-Chief of the CAF Legal Branch, an important ceremonial role The Queen has graciously consented to serve in since 2013, which came on the day following the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation as Queen in Westminster Abbey. The appointment is a highly symbolic reflection of The Queen’s coronation oath that included an oath “to cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all judgements” throughout her reign. In essence, the acceptance of the appointment by Her Majesty is a mark of tremendous honour for the CAF and, equally, a reaffirmation of loyalty and duty to The Queen on the part of the CAF.
The position of Colonel-in-Chief is a Royal Appointment – an honorary title normally reserved for the Sovereign and Members of the Canadian Royal Family. Although its origins can be traced back to the British Army, the appointment of Royal Colonels-in-Chief has been an integral and proud aspect of the life of numerous Canadian regiments, branches and units for over a century. The Colonel-in-Chief is the guardian of history and traditions and serves to promote ethos, identity and pride in service.
The CAF Legal Branch was created by Order in Council on February 28, 1918, and presently consists of approximately 300 Regular and Reserve Force members serving primarily in the Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Office of the Chief Military Judge, and within Military Personnel Command. The CAF Legal Branch also consists of Court Reporters and Legal Officers.