During a virtual audience held on June 22, 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. The Royal Banner was received by RAdm Geneviève Bernatchez, Judge Advocate General, and senior ranking legal officer.

This Royal Banner was granted to honour the CAF Legal Branch on its 100th anniversary. This is the tenth presentation of a Royal Banner to the CAF. The last presentation was in 2015, when Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Gloucester presented a Royal Banner to the Royal Canadian Dental Corps.

Queen Elizabeth II has graciously consented to serve as the Colonel-in-Chief of the CAF Legal Branch since 2013, 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. The acceptance of the appointment by Her Majesty is a mark of tremendous honour for the CAF and 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 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,” said Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, Acting Chief of the Defence Staff. “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.” 

According to the news release, 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 event was hosted by Her Majesty from Windsor Castle with RAdm Bernatchez attending in 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,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence. 

This was the first event during which Her Majesty has granted an audience with the CAF since the beginning of the pandemic.

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.