OTTAWA — Former astronaut Julie Payette has taken the formal oath of office to become the country’s 29th Governor General in a traditional ceremony on Parliament Hill.
The 53-year-old is in the Senate chamber for her former installation as the Queen’s representative.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood by as Payette read the oaths of allegiance of the Governor General and commander-in-chief of Canada, and of the Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada.
The audience included justices of the Supreme Court, political and Indigenous leaders and other dignitaries, including former governors general, several provincial premiers and Payette’s friends and family.
While much of the ceremony is dictated by protocol, Payette herself chose the music, which included a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung by Joannie Benoit and Melissa Bedard.
The Juno Award-winning Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Choir, of which Payette was a member, is also performing.
One of the first things Payette plans to do as the Queen’s representative in Canada is to open an Instagram account. Her predecessor, David Johnston, never had one, but officials from Heritage Canada say Payette will add to the Governor General’s social media arsenal.
She will also take over her predecessor’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Payette’s embrace of social media appears to be in step with Buckingham Palace, which posted a job advertisement for a social media manager earlier this year as the number of people following the Queen on Twitter was heading toward the three million mark. It has since surpassed that.
Payette, a Montreal-born astronaut, engineer and businesswoman, was accompanied by her 14-year-old son, Laurier Payette Flynn. Her parents and sister and brother were among the invited guests who felt the rumble of a 21-gun salute after Payette signed the oath book and took her seat on the Senate throne.
Following the ceremony, Payette, her son and other dignitaries were scheduled to visit the National War Memorial where the new Governor General would lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Payette had her first audience with the Queen less than two weeks ago, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she received several honours, including the Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada.
In his parting statement, issued Friday, Johnston thanked Canadians for the privilege of serving them.
“It has been a great honour to serve as Canada’s 28th Governor General, to represent Her Majesty The Queen in this important role within our constitutional monarchy and to give back to this country I love so much,” the former academic said.
The Canadian Press