A loyal toast is a salute given to the head of state of the country in which a formal gathering is being given, or by expatriates of that country, whether or not the particular head of state is present. It is usually a matter of protocol at state and military occasions, and a display of patriotic sentiment at civilian events. The toast is usually initiated and recited by the host before being repeated by the assembled guests in unison; the composition varying between regions and types of gathering.
Throughout the Commonwealth realms, the Loyal Toast is most commonly composed solely of the words "The Queen", though this may be elaborated with mention of the monarch's position as head of a particular state, such as in Canada, where the Department of National Defence codifies the Loyal Toast as "Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen of Canada." If the sovereign holds an honorary position within a Canadian Forces regiment, in that regiment's mess the toast is: "Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen of Canada, our Captain-General," or whatever rank the monarch may hold. As Queen Elizabeth II is recognized as the symbolic head of the Commonwealth of Nations, at any event where the guest of honour is a dignitary from any of the 16 Commonwealth realms, the Loyal Toast is adapted to be "Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth," and should an honoured guest be from one of the other Commonwealth member-states, the Loyal Toast is to be recited as "Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen of Canada, Head of the Commonwealth." More unique cases exist in places such as Lancashire, where the salute may be "Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen, Duke of Lancaster"; on the Channel Islands, where residents will say "La reine, notre duc" ("The Queen, our Duke"); on the Isle of Man, where "The Queen, Lord of Mann," is said; and in Cornwall where it is traditional to toast "The Queen and the Duke of Cornwall". Members of the Royal Family neither participate in nor respond to the Loyal Toast, and the honour may be followed by a playing of "God Save The Queen", which is either the national and/or Royal Anthem of most Commonwealth realms. When ambassadors or similarly senior representatives of other heads of state are present, it has become customary for a toast to be proposed after the Loyal Toast to "heads of state of other countries here represented." The toast can be adapted for use at some royal foundations. For example at Christ Church, the first toast is always "The Queen, Visitor of the House."
Official etiquette dictates that the Loyal Toast may be given following either the introduction of honoured guests and opening remarks or the completion of all courses of the meal, that it be the first toast given, and that a glass of any beverage other than a cocktail be used. It is also customary not to smoke until the sovereign has been toasted. In carrying out the toast, the event's host will rise and request the audience's attention. Once accomplished and the guests are standing, the host raises his or her glass and recites the toast without any other words or music. The audience then responds to the toast by repeating "The Queen" or, in Canada, "La reine", drinking the toast, and seating themselves once more. In the Royal Navy, however, the toast is given with all attendees seated, a custom practiced since King William IV, who had served as a naval officer and experienced the discomfort of standing suddenly on board a vessel at sea, authorized all in the navy to toast him while sitting down.[dubious ] This practice is also carried out on board the ships of the Royal Canadian Navy, so long as neither The Queen nor any other member of the Canadian Royal Family is present, in which case the toast is given while sitting only if the royal guest so requests it. The lawyers of Lincoln's Inn also traditionally take the toast sitting down, commemorating an occasion when King Charles II dined at the inn and the entire company was too drunk to stand up.
The Loyal Toast was the catalyst for international friction in 1948, when the Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, then John A. Costello, made an official visit to Canada. There, at a formal function, Governor General of Canada the Earl Alexander of Tunis steadfastly refused the directions of Irish officials to toast the President of Ireland, then Seán T. O'Kelly, instead of the King of Ireland, George VI; at the time, the King fulfilled the external affairs role that normally belongs to heads of state, while the President of Ireland fulfilled an internal constitutional role. An irked Costello stated to a reporter the following day that he would prompt the Irish parliament to repeal the Executive Authority Act and declare Ireland as a republic, which was done later that year.
In 2000, Captain Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, petitioned to be personally excused from, amongst other displays of loyalty, having to stand and participate in the Loyal Toast. The Canadian Forces Grievance Board, the Chief of the Defence Staff, and the Federal Court of Canada all upheld the Canadian Forces' requirements that members respect the Canadian head of state and Commander-in-Chief.
Within some sections of Scottish society, individuals will, after standing, wave their drink over a glass or jug of water on the table. This symbolises "the king over the water," which is a reference to the pretender to the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland, Charles Edward Stuart, and is intended as a sign of solidarity with the Jacobite cause and a protest against the Hanoverian succession. It was for this reason that, for many years, finger bowls were not used on royal tables, as some individuals would pass the glass over the bowl, intending it to be a reference to "the king over the water," and in keeping with Jacobite sympathies. King Edward VII authorized the use of finger bowls during his reign, deeming his dynasty to be sufficiently secure.
In Spain, at formal occasions in the military, the first toast is for the King Juan Carlos I: The highest-ranked officer toasts "Por el primer soldado de España" (For Spain's first soldier) and the concurrence answers "Por el Rey" (For the King)
On formal occasions in Sweden, such as the Nobel Prize banquet, the first toast is usually the toast to the sovereign. It is proclaimed by the host, or if the host is the King himself, by the second-highest-ranking official. It is simply "Hans Majestät Konungens skål" ("The toast of His Majesty the King"). All guests then rise, raise their glasses, and, if the King is present, turn towards him and answer "Konungen" ("The King").
The first toast in wardrooms and officer's messes during formal dinners is also proposed to the King. After the toast, the Royal Hymn can be sung - even though the King is not present.
- Alberta Office of Protocol, Government > Protocol Office > Toasting The Queen, Queen's Printer for Alberta, retrieved 9 June 2009
- Department of National Defence (1 April 1999), The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, pp. 12–2–1, A-AD-200-000/AG-000, retrieved 8 June 2009
- Department of National Defence 1999, p. 12-2-2
- Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons Official Report, Standing Committees Session 1972-73, Volume VI, H.M. Stationery Office.
- Department of National Defence 1999, p. 7-3
- Alberta Office of Protocol, Government > Protocol Office > Suggested Dinner Protocol, Queen's Printer for Alberta, retrieved 9 June 2009
- Student Dining > Dining Customs, The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, retrieved 19 February 2010
- Ryan, Ray (6 January 2001), "Introduction: State and Nation: The Republic and Ireland, 1949 – 1999", in Ray, Ryan, Writing in the Irish Republic, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–2, ISBN 978-0-312-23153-8, retrieved 9 June 2009
- McGregor, Glen (24 October 2006), "Officer wages war against allegiance to Queen", Ottawa Citizen, retrieved 9 June 2009
- Military staff must pledge to Queen: court, CBC, 22 January 2008, retrieved 17 February 2009
- Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh v. The Attorney General of Canada, T-1809-06 The Honourable Mr. Justice Barnes, 14.5 (Federal Court of Canada 21 January 2008).
- A. Michie, God Save The Queen, p. ____