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    Monday, 13 March 2017

    Exhaustive note on British Monarchy

    1. Sovereign as head of state
    The United States Constitution declares that, "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United of America. By contrast, where the British system of cabinet government is practiced, the formal statement that the executive power is vested in the Crown corresponds much less closely with the reality of government. The Sovereign may reign, but it is the Prime Minister and other ministers who rule. Yet within the executive in Britain, it is not possible to dismiss the position of the Sovereign as a legal archaism since the Sovereign as head of state performs some essential constitutional functions.

    a. Queen and Crown
    The Crown refers to a permanent institution whereas the use of the word sovereign, ruler, monarch, King or Queen; points out the person in whose name all, governmental authority is exercised.

    b. Title to the Throne
    The title to the Throne is both statutory and hereditary.
    The successor to the Crown must take the Coronation Oath, in the manner and from prescribed by statute and must sign and repeat the declaration prescribed by the Bill of Rights. Any person who comes to the possession of the Crown must join in communion with the Church of England as by law established.

    c. Accession
    When a Sovereign dies his successor, accedes to the Throne immediate. As soon as conveniently possible after the death or abdication of a Sovereign, an Accession Council meets to acclaim the new Sovereign.

    d. Coronation
    Coronation customary takes place in Westminster Abbey some months after accession, and is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Archbishop of York.

    e. Abdication
    There is no precedent for a voluntary abdication before 1936, when Edward VIII was given the choice of abdicating or giving up his proposed marriage with Mrs. Simpson.

    f. Royal Style and Titles
    The Royal Style and Titles are altered from time to time by Act of Parliament, or by proclamation issued there under. Several changes have been made in the present century to take account of constitutional developments in the commonwealth.

    g. The Royal family
    The official duties of the Queen in her capacity as Sovereign of the United Kingdom and of the other self-governing Commonwealth monarchies and the remaining colonial territories, Head of the Armed Services, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England and with her special responsibility to the Established Church of Scotland, include:

    i. Work arising .out of the government such as approving and signing commissions, and reading ministerial, cabinet, parliamentary and diplomatic papers for several hours a day;
    ii. Private audiences with ambassadors etc., receiving the Prime Minister and other Ministers, holding a Privy Council and investitures;
    iii. Attending at state occasions such as the opening of Parliament, Trooping the Color and religious services; and
    iv. Exchanging state visits and visiting Commonwealth countries.

    h. Royal marriage
    The archaic Royal Marriages Act 1772, by restricting the right of a descendant of George Ii to contract a valid marriage without the consent of the Sovereign, seeks to guard against undesirable marriages which might affect the succession to the throne. Until the age of twenty five the Sovereign's assent is necessary, except in respect of the issue of princesses who have married into foreign families. After the age a marriage may take place without consent after a year's notice to the Privy Council, unless Parliament expressly disapproves.

    i. Accession and coronation
    There are two ceremonies which mark the accession of the new Sovereign. Immediately on the death of his predecessor the Sovereign is proclaimed by the As session Council, a body which comprises the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and other leading citizens.

    The proclamation is afterwards approved at the first meeting of the new Sovereign's Privy Council. Later there follows the coronation, the ancient ceremony which, before the hereditary principle was established, gave religious sanction to title by election and brought to a close the interregnum between the death of one king and the election of his successor.

    j. Minority and incapacity
    The Regency Acts 1937-53 make standing provision for the Sovereigns minority, incapacity and temporary absence from the realm. Until the Sovereign attains the age of 18, the royal functions are to be exercised by a regent, who will also act in the event of total incapacity of an adult Sovereign. Normally the regent will be the next person in the line of succession who is not excluded by the Act of Settlement and is a. British subject domiciled in the United Kingdom.

    k. Illness and temporary absence
    In the event of illness which does not amount to total incapacity of absence or intended absence from the United Kingdom, the Sovereign may appoint. Counselors of State to exercise such of the royal functions as may be conferred upon them by letters patent.

    l. Demise of the Crown
    Formerly the death of the Sovereign involved the dissolution o Parliament and the termination of the' tenure of all offices under the Crown. The duration of Parliament is now independent of the death of the Sovereign. The Demise of the Crown Act 1901 provided that the holding of any office should not be affected by the demise of the Crown and that no fresh appointment should be necessary.

    m. Financing the monarchy
    In the 17th century, when the Sovereign himself carried out the functions of government, the revenue from the taxes which Parliament authorized was paid over to the Sovereign and merged with the hereditary revenues already available to him. Today a separation is made between the expenses of government and the expenses of maintaining the monarchy. Since the time of George III, it has been customary at the beginning of each reign for the Sovereign to surrender to Parliament for his life the ancient hereditary revenues of the Crown, including the income from Crown lands. Provision is then made by Parliament for meeting the salaries and other expenses of the royal household. This provision, Known as the Civil List, was granted to the Queen for her reign and six months after, by the Civil List Act 1952. In 1952 the total annual amount paid was £ 475,000 but following an inquiry into the financial position of the monarchy by a select committee of the House of Commons, the amount was raised to £ 980,000 by the Civil List Act 1972.

    The idea behind the Civil List used to be that Parliament should not be asked to vote money for the expenses of the royal household each year.

    2. Duties of the Sovereign

    No attempt can be made to list the full duties which fall to the Sovereign to perform in person. Many formal acts of government require her participation. Many state documents require her signature and she receives copies of all major government papers, including reports from ambassadors abroad and their instructions for the Foreign Office, and also minutes of Cabinet meetings and other Cabinet papers.

    a. Private Secretary to the Sovereign
    The Private Secretary to the Sovereign plays a significant role in conducting communications between the Sovereign and her ministers and, in exceptional circumstances where this is constitutionally proper, between the Sovereign and other political leaders. This office is filled on the personal selection of the Sovereign; usually it goes to a member of the royal household who has extensive experience in the service of the Court.

    b. Personal prerogatives of the Sovereign
    Personal prerogatives of the Sovereign may be summed up as under:

    i. The appointment of a Prime Minister
    1. In appointing a Prime Minister the Sovereign must appoint that person who is .in the best position to receive the support of the majority in the House of Commons. This does not involve the Sovereign in making a personal assessment of leading politicians since no major party could fight a general election without a recognized leader.
    2. Where a Prime Minister resigns because of ill-health or old age, or dies while in office, a new leader of the governing party must be found.
    3. In 1957, when Eden resigned because of illness, he left two possible successors, Butler and Macmillan; the Queen consulted with Sir Winston Churchill, a former Prime Minister, and with Lord Salisbury, to whom the views of the Cabinet ministers were known. This established that Macmillan commanded much the greater support, and he was invited by the Queen to be Prime Minister.

    ii. Dissolution of Parliament
    1. In the absence of a regular term for the life of Parliament fixed by statute, the Sovereign may by the prerogative dissolve Parliament and cause a general election to be held. The Sovereign normally accepts the advice of the Prime Minister and grants dissolution when this is requested.
    2. It is doubtful whether there can be grounds for the refusal of dissolution to a Prime Minister who commands a clear majority in the Commons. Political practice accepts that a Prime Minister may choose his own time for a general election with the five-year life of Parliament prescribed by the Parliament Act 1911.
    (3) In the last, 100 years there are no instances of the Sovereign having refused dissolution in the United Kingdom.
    (4) That the Sovereign should not refuse a Prime Minister's request for dissolution except for very strong reason is obvious. In practice, the political significance of the Prime Minister's power to decide when Parliament, should be dissolved is much greater than the possibility of the Sovereign's refusal of a dissolution.

    iii. The dismissal of minister
    The refusal of a Prime Minister's request for a dissolution is but brie aspect of a larger question, namely whether the Sovereign may ever reject the advice of the Prime Minister on a major issue, for example, by refusing to make an appointment to ministerial office "which the Prime Minister had recommended, by refusing to give the royal assent to a Bill which has passed through both Houses or by insisting that a general election is held before the royal asset is given.

    Where the question is that of assent to a Bill which has passed through Parliament, it would not be prudent for the Sovereign to challenge the wishes of a majority in the House of Commons. Yet the relationship between Sovereign and Prime Minister is bilateral in the sense that both persons hold office subject to some principles of constitutional behavior, however vague these principles often appear to be.

    iv. The Queen in the Privy Council
    The Tudor monarchs governed mainly through the Privy Council, a select group of royal officials and advisers, having recourse to Parliament only when legislative authority was considered necessary for matters of taxation or to give effect to royal policies.

    As the Cabinet system developed, so did the English Privy Council lose its policy-making and deliberative role? The council had lost its political authority; politicians began to remain members of the Council after they had ceased to be ministers, a practice which has continued 'until today.

    v. Office of a Privy Councilor
    Membership of the Privy Council is today a titular honor. Appointments are made by the Sovereign on ministerial advice. By convention all Cabinet ministers become Privy Councilors. Members of the royal family and holders of certain high offices of a non-political character such as Archbishops and Lords Justices of Appeal are appointed members of the Council.

    vi. Functions of Privy Council

    The functions of the Privy Council are quite- distinct from those of the Cabinet. The first gives legal form to certain decisions of the governments; the second exercises the policy-making function of the executive in major matters. The Cabinet is summoned by the Prime Minister; the Council is convened by the Clerk of the Council, whose Office dates back to the 16th century. The Lord President of the Council Usually a senior member of the Cabinet.
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