As a result of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, to constrain the political power of the country’s Kings or Queens, the United Kingdom’s governance developed into what is referred to as a constitutional monarchy.
Currently Elizabeth II, is therefore the head of state, but it is the democratically elected government who exercises all political power and decision-making.
We are all familiar with the ritual of a newly elected prime minister meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace before forming a new government and the pomp and circumstance of the annual state opening of parliament, which are both clear reminders of the role of the sovereign’s, largely ceremonial, role.
While remaining neutral in all political affairs, The Crown is nevertheless the ultimate source of executive power to which all governments ultimately must refer and defer.
Every prime minister, of whatever political persuasion, is duty bound to have a weekly meeting with the ruling monarch to report on their governments’ actions and intentions, although any discussions will remain absolutely confidential.
Although largely ceremonial, albeit tipping a cap to the legacy of monarchy, The Crown does still possess what is referred to as the Royal Prerogative.
This statute includes the following powers:
to appoint/dismiss a prime minister according to their ability to form a government in the House of Commons.
to appoint/dismiss other ministers on the advice of a prime minister.
to enact laws passed by both houses of parliament.
to issue commissions to members of the Armed Forces.
to command the Armed Forces.
to appoint members of the Privy Council
to isse/revoke British passports
to issue or revoke honours
to grant corporations (e.g.by Royal Charter)
Prerogative of mercy used to commute death sentences which with the abolishment of the death sentence may still be used to revoke lengthy or inappropriate jail terms.
to declare war and conclude peace
to create and receive diplomats
to deploy Armed Forces overseas
to recognise states
Theresa May might have hoped, that as she confronts the weighty matters of the day, like Brexit, that she could count on her ministers to take care of business on the domestic front. However, the Northern Rail crisis is becoming a real béte…