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Power and Authority of the UK Royal Family

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posted on Nov, 4 2007 @ 08:25 AM
Ok, on this board I routinely see people talking about how the Royal Family is a powerful institution, if you speak against the monarchy you can be charged with treason, that the UK is not a real democracy because of the monarchy, etc.

Yet I have always been led to believe that the Royal Family has no actual power or involvement in running the UK and the monarch is just a figurehead.

What is the real deal?

posted on Nov, 4 2007 @ 09:07 AM
The Queen still holds alot of technical power, but doesn't act on it.

She has to give Royal Ascent to any Acts of parliament, but no monarch has refused royal Ascent since the early 1800's, i believe.

here is a good read about the power's of the Monarchy:

Constitunional Role

posted on Nov, 4 2007 @ 04:19 PM
Essentially, Chris, you're right - the Queen is just a figurehead. She can't use these powers without permission from the elected government, or her position as a constitutional monarch would become untenable and she'd have to advocate (with the possible consequence that the United Kingdom became a United Republic - doesn't quite have the same ring to it

She does have theoretical powers (as Stu pointed out) but these are only exercised on 'advice' from the Prime Minister (i.e. the Prime Minister tells her to). Powers include dissolving Parliament (for a General Election to take place), making a speech each year to set out the government's legislative agenda when Parliament is opened (which is written by the Cabinet - if you're interested, the next one is on Tuesday 6th November), formally appointing the Prime Minister (though she rarely has any real choice in this), and declaring war (but Britain hasn't formally declared war on anyone since the Second World War, as far as I can recall).

Every law passed by Parliament has to be signed by the monarch too before it becomes official (the 'Royal Assent') - it was actually Queen Anne who was the last monarch to refuse to do this in 1708 over a bill related to the militia in Scotland but this was on advice from her Cabinet. She didn't do it unilaterally.

There are plans to take away a fair number of these powers (e.g. declaring war) and give them to Parliament which are likely to be enacted before the next election - but even if Labour lose an election before they get round to it, it's likely that the Conservatives will continue the proposed changes anyway.

I don't think having a Royal Family prevents Britain from being a democracy - it's such a wide ranging term that it can encompass all kinds of different political systems. We still elect our government and have all the rights and liberties associated with the concept of democracy (free speech, free press, free expression and so forth). When you think about it, a fair number of democratic nations have a figurehead monarch (many of which share Elizabeth II with Britain!): Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Luxembourg and Norway to name some examples. I don't think anyone would really contend that these nations are not democracies... in addition, Australia, Canada and New Zealand all have governments based on the British model too.

posted on Nov, 4 2007 @ 05:02 PM
That is true ... there are very very few absolute monarchies left in the world and almost all of those are in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Monaco and Lichtenstein are the only European monarchies with significant power and authority that I can think of - and even then they still have elected parliaments.

Thanks for the responses.

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