Wednesday, 6 May 2015

5 Fun Facts About The Queen's Powers

Does The Queen Have Any Powers?
Well, she can fly, is stronger than steel, has x-ray vision, and is faster than a speeding bullet.

Nope, wait a minute. That's Superman.

Back to the Queen.

She is a constitutional monarch and Britain's Head of State. Her role is mostly symbolic, representing British interests on State Visits and she represents Britain on ceremonial occasions.

Although her powers are limited by constitutional rules, the Royal Prerogative and powers are exercised on her behalf by ministers. These include, for instance, the issuing and withdrawing of passports. Without the Royal Prerogative, this would require an act of parliament each time one was issued.

But did you know:

1. The Queen is above the law.

You may think no one is above the law, but the Queen actually is.

She has Freedom From Prosecution under British Law. So, that means she can walk down the street and shoot you in the head, and there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.

Oh, and if you're thinking you can sue her, you're wrong. She is also free from civil action.

2. The Queen can dissolve Parliament whenever she wants.

And this is a power she actually uses all the time. Well, every five years.

When a General Election is called, the Prime Minister pops over to Buckingham Palace for a formal meeting with the Queen. In the meeting, he gets down on one knee and begs the Queen to dissolve parliament so a General Election can be held.

At this point, the Queen can in theory say nope, go back and continue ruling on my behalf. But it never happens. Not nowadays, anyway.

In fact, back in the day, the monarch dissolved parliament whenever they wanted. Usually when they were miffed about whoever was in power in the House of Commons.

The Monarch also summons a Parliament. This is done after a General Election, when the leader of the majority party is invited to Buckingham Palace and asked to form a government.

3. The Queen has the power to grant assent to bills from Parliament.

She signs them into law. In theory, she can refuse to sign a bill and withhold assent. However, in practice, whatever the government puts in front of her, so long as it has gone through the correct procedures in Parliament, she will always sign.

But she still holds the power to grant or withhold Royal Assent.

The last Monarch to exercise this power was Queen Anne in 1708.

The Queen can also create Orders-In-Council and Letters Patent. These regulate precedence and titles. Ministers use it to bring Acts of Parliament into Law.

4. It's the Queen who appoints Ministers, including the Prime Minister.

And there you were thinking it was you. Nope, it isn't. In theory, it doesn't matter which party gains a majority at the General Election, the Queen can choose who to appoint to Government Posts, including the appointment of the Prime Minister.

She can also sack anyone at any time, if she chooses. Generally, though, the Queen will appoint to the post of Prime Minister whichever candidate has the most support in the House of Commons.

If the Prime Minister resigns during their term, such as happened with Tony Blair, the deputy Prime Minister doesn't automatically become Prime Minister.

In America, for example, if the President resigns, the Vice-President takes over automatically.

In Britain, the Queen listens to advice and then appoints whoever she wants. Generally, she always listens and takes the advice she is given. But, apparently, she has come close to ignoring it on a few occasions.

5. The Queen can declare war.

In fact, she is the only person in the country who has the legal right to declare war.

In practice it is the Prime Minister, hopefully with a mandate from Parliament, who asks the Queen to declare war.

However, in 1982, Margaret Thatcher used the Royal Prerogative to declare war on Argentina during the Falklands War. She didn't consult Parliament until afterwards.

Bonus Round - The Queen can issue a Royal Pardon.

And can issue it to anyone she likes. It was recently used to posthumously pardon Alan Turing, the World War II code-breaker.

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