Why does The Queen have the title "Defender of the Faith" in Canada when we don’t have a state religion? Does this have anything to do with the Divine Right of Kings?
When our Queen came to the Throne in 1952, each of her Realms (the countries of which she is Sovereign) adopted its own formula to refer to The Queen in a legal, formal way.
For Canada, this title runs as follows:
Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith
Moving passage of the Royal Style and Titles Act in Canada’s Parliament on 3rd February 1953, Prime Minister Louis St Laurent explained why the term Defender of the Faith was retained:
In our countries [Canada and the other non-British monarchies of the Commonwealth] there are no established churches, but in our countries there are people who have faith in the direction of human affairs by an all-wise Providence; and we felt that it was a good thing that the civil authorities would proclaim that their organization is such that it is a defence of the continued beliefs in a supreme power that orders the affairs of mere men, and that there could be no reasonable objection from anyone who believed in the Supreme Being in having the sovereign, the head of the civil authority, described as a believer in and a defender of the faith in a supreme ruler.
Contrary to the mistaken view sometimes repeated by the media, The Queen of Canada—who personally is both Anglican (in England) and Presbyterian (in Scotland), two nations having an official state religion—is not in any way an official or representative of the Anglican Church of Canada. It is in fact the Canadian Crown that guarantees all citizens the right to worship God in their own way, or not to do so at all. Canada’s future King, Charles, the Prince of Wales, has mused aloud that as monarch he would like to make the role of the Crown in defending that freedom more explicit, and so be called "Defender of Faith".
What is the difference between a Queen Regnant and Queen Consort?
Our current Queen, Elizabeth II, is the Sovereign of Canada, who occupies the Throne in her own right, and is the personification of the Canadian State. Thus she is a reigning monarch or Queen Regnant, to use a legalistic term. A Queen Consort, on the other hand, is the spouse of a reigning King. She has the title of Queen out of courtesy and as acknowledgement of the many important ways in which she supports the King. However she has no legal role and does not share or exercise any of the powers of the monarch. Many Canadians will remember a greatly-loved Queen Consort, Queen Elizabeth - who on the death of King George VI became known as the Queen Mother. In war as in peace, the late Queen served the KIng and his peoples with devotion and grace. However, during that time she was Queen Consort, not a reigning queen.
Why do you refer to Royal tours as "homecomings"?
Canada is a Realm, one of 16 Commonwealth countries with The Queen as head of state and head of the nation. Members of the Royal Family do not come to Canada as distinguished visitors from foreign lands, in the way we might welcome President Obama, the Pope or King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Rather, they return here as part of our national family, whose members have served Canada continuously since Confederation and before. There is nothing wrong with the term "Royal Tour", but we think it is important to underline how the Royals have a special role in Canada in the same way as they are held in a special part of Canadians' affections.
The Queen is an hereditary monarch; I don't believe in that. Nobody is born better than anybody else, because in Canada we believe that everyone is created equal. We don't believe in inherited rights.
The Queen is not better than anyone else, and no credible authority would endorse such a view. However, constitutional monarchs such as Canada's are born to serve, in a life of service. Unlike many, they have no choice in their destiny. One might think of this as a sacrifice rather than a privilege. Every word uttered, every action taken or not, and, trivially but truly, every nuance of dress or expression will be photographed, circulated around the world and commented upon—often inaccurately and sometimes cruelly—for an entire lifetime. In this sense we might admire rather than deprecate the hereditary tradition of the Crown.
At the same time, accompanying this inevitable destiny is another reality: training from shortly after birth to meet the duties and expectations of the sovereign's role. Many others receive a very general education, then subsequently perhaps choose some specialties to study and yet very often end up following an occupation quite different than anything that had imagined or been trained for. Monarchs have the advantage of long-term preparation to do their best in a demanding task.
It is true that some of our fellow citizens will always resent an hereditary monarch, whether for their inherited privilege or for other reasons—but then, the popularity figures for elected prime ministers and presidents usually run 20 or more points below that of our Queen—not a bad result in a critical, media-driven world. Nobody pretends that the hereditary principle will guarantee great monarchs. However, the Canadian experience in the nearly 150 years since Confederation suggests that it remains the best way we have to ensure impartiality at the apex of today's constitutional arrangements, which Canadians chose to reaffirm in 1982, whereby we permanently lend our power to the sovereign to exercise for on our behalf.
A very compelling summary defence of the hereditary principle has been made by French Canadian historian and educator, Fr Jacques Monet, SJ in his article "The Canadian Monarchy" which was included in The West and the Nation: Essays in Honour of W. L. Morton
A king is a king, not because he is rich and powerful, not because he is a successful politician, not because he belongs to a particular creed or to a national group. He is King because he is born. And in choosing to leave the selection of their head of state to this most common denominator in the world—the accident of birth—Canadians implicitly proclaim their faith in human equality; their hope for the triumph of nature over political manoeuvre, over social and financial interest; for the victory of the human person.
Some people bow and curtsey to members of the Royal Family, while others do not? Which is right?
First, it should be clear that, like salutes in the Canadian Forces, bows and curtseys are marks of respect to Her Majesty The Queen whom members of the Royal Family represent as they carry out as engagements throughout the world. In our own upbringings and families, as in those of our friends and neighbours, there is a wide variety of behaviours and greetings. Some folk are tactile and quick to hug and embrace; others are more formal and reserved- each does what seems natural. Neither is right nor wrong. The same is true for what constitutes good manners. The Queen made it clear some time ago that any requirement for bows and curtseys no longer exists. Many Canadians, however, choose to make this very special acknowledgement of affection and respect because of their great respect for the The Queen as head of our nation and example of service and dedication. One might compare it to standing for the National Anthem, a man's removing his hat as the Flag goes by or in the presence of a coffin, or a congregant genuflecting or bowing in church, temple, or mosque. No law requires such behaviour; however many choose to show respect through such gestures.