A friend recently explained her lexical issues with "British" Columbia. "I was born in New Westminster," she told me. "I went to school in Surrey and attended Queen Elizabeth Senior Secondary which was located on King George Highway. I played field hockey and Princess Margaret was our arch rival. The final tournament was at Prince Charles. I once went on vacation to Victoria, and on the way to Prince Rupert, the ferry passed the Queen Charlottes. I drove through Prince George, on my way back to Surrey."

Britannia's ghosts are all over the Canuck landscape, haunting schools, street signs and taverns. The spooky hegemony doesn't stop at proper nouns. From far across the sea, an elderly, Helen Mirren lookalike still presides over her toque-wearing subjects. Every once and a while she'll eject a corgi from her lap and rise to speak, in a voice somewhere between Monty Python housewife and Canadian loon. It's not an easy gig making pronouncements. Her Majesty Elizabeth II and the rest of her eccentric family struggle with a historic burden of property grabs, problem drinking, paranoiac secrecy, broken relationships and inbreeding. It's like The Trailer Park Boys with castles.

Canada isn't just a parliamentary democracy; it's also a constitutional monarchy, and the queen is our head of state. Our constitution demands the unanimous agreement of 10 provincial legislatures and the House of Commons and Senate for any change to our monarchical status. "Arguably, the Queen is more securely entrenched in Canada than she is in the United Kingdom," according to Wikipedia.

As you've probably guessed, I'm not what you'd call a monarchist.

Followers of writer David Icke actually believe the Queen is a shapeshifting lizard from the fourth dimension. This would account for a certain cold-blooded quality about "Liz." Although I'm not much of a fan myself, I refuse to believe she's just a reptile with real estate. (Then again, I refuse to believe the Shroud of Turin is anything more than an old beach towel with a picture of Cat Stevens on it.)

The Queen's reign in Canada is purely symbolic, or so we're told. But when does symbolism shade into Stockholm syndrome, the psychology of the kidnapped? After all, the woman's portrait is all over our currency. And anything of state importance, like the Canadian mint, is appended with "royal."

Another telling sign is that anytime a close member of her family dies, our national media goes into a week-long, front-page funk. Remember the cross-country grief-fest when the Queen Mum popped her clogs a few years back? The woman famously swore an oath of silence sometime around the construction of Stonehenge, refusing to speak to the Druids of Fleet Street. Canadian pundits who had never given this royal elder a thought in their lives were reduced to a microfiche search dating back to the Blitz, in search of something, anything, she said, or did, of note.

Canadian media's near-necrophilic passion for the Queen Mum was later echoed by the heavy breathing over her daughter's representative in Canada. Broadcasters and editors still can't get enough of Governor General Michelle Jean, it seems. Look, she's holding a baby! What warmth! Look, she's signing a guest book! What penmanship! OK, the new GG is a charming, attractive woman, we get it already. Now give us the freaking weather report.

According to the official government website, "Canada's governor general carries out Her Majesty's duties in Canada on a daily basis and is Canada's de facto head of state." Let me repeat that again, in case you missed it the first time. According to our very own government, the GG is Canada's de facto Head of State.

The GG is reportedly appointed by the Queen on the advice of Canada's Prime Minister. One of the governor general's most important responsibilities, according to the GG site, "is to ensure that Canada always has a prime minister." Of course, we don't want to go without one of those. Very easy to misplace, those prime ministers. You can't name a GG without one.

"There are rare occasions when the GG does not agree with his or her prime minister. The most famous example occurred when Governor General Lord Byng refused Prime Minister Mackenzie King's request to dissolve Parliament in 1926." (Perhaps that's what the big mace is for, to resolve such disputes Thunderdome-style.)

So is all this monarchical claptrap just empty ceremonialism? If I had to answer in Canada's other official language, I'd give this one a Gallic shrug. Writer Douglas Coupland once noted that if the U.S. hasn't invaded Canada yet, there must be a good reason for it. Perhaps there's an agreement between Uncle Sam and the Queen to lay off each other's stuff. Honour among thieves, and all that.

All things considered, maybe I'm for the monarchy after all.