HOME

TheInfoList




The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the
constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be ...
form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional cha ...
of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, the
Crown dependencies#REDIRECT Crown Dependencies The Crown dependencies (french: Dépendances de la Couronne; gv, Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off t ...
(the
Bailiwick of Guernsey The Bailiwick of Guernsey (french: Bailliage de Guernesey; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language spoken in Guernsey. It is sometimes known ...

Bailiwick of Guernsey
, the
Bailiwick of Jersey A bailiwick () is usually the area of jurisdiction of a bailiff, and once also applied to territories in which a privately appointed bailiff exercised the sheriff's functions under a royal or imperial writ. In English language, English the origina ...

Bailiwick of Jersey
and the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = " O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = 290px , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , map_caption = Location of the Isle of Man (green) in E ...

Isle of Man
) and the
British Overseas Territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen all with a constitutional and historical link with the . They are remnants of the and do not form part of the United Kingdom its ...

British Overseas Territories
. The current monarch is Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke of York, Duke and Duchess of York (later Ki ...

Elizabeth II
, who ascended the throne in 1952. The monarch and their immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial, diplomatic and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to functions such as bestowing
honours Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, whi ...
and appointing the
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
, which are performed in a non-partisan manner. The monarch is also
Head of the British Armed Forces The Head of the British Armed Forces, also known as Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, refers to the supreme command authority of the British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are t ...
. Though the ultimate executive authority over the government is still formally by and through the
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case is typically based ...
. The
Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom , address = 10 Downing Street, London , leader_title = Prime Ministe ...
is known as ''Her (His) Majesty's Government''. The British monarchy traces its origins from the
petty kingdom A petty kingdom is a kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female monarch Taxonomy * Kingdom (biology), a category i ...
s of
Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of until the in 1066, consisted of various kingdoms until 927, when it was united as the by King (r. 927–939). It became part of the s ...
and
early medieval Scotland Scotland was divided into a series of kingdoms in the early Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation ...
, which consolidated into the kingdoms of
England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east and the to the south. The country cover ...

England
and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Tele ...
by the 10th century. England was conquered by the Normans in 1066, after which
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an independent sovereign ...

Wales
also gradually came under control of
Anglo-Normans The Anglo-Normans ( nrf, Anglo-Normaunds, ang, Engel-Norðmandisca) were the medieval ruling class in England, composed mainly of a combination of ethnic Anglo-Saxons The Anglo-Saxons were a Cultural identity, cultural group who inhabited En ...
. The process was completed in the 13th century when the
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) existed between 1216 and 1536, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...

Principality of Wales
became a
client state A client state, in international relations The field of international relations dates from the time of the Ancient Greece, Greek historian Thucydides. International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) i ...
of the English kingdom. Meanwhile, ''
Magna Carta (Medieval Latin for "Great Charter of Freedoms"), commonly called (also ''Magna Charta''; "Great Charter"), is a Royal charter, royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, Berkshire, Windsor, on ...

Magna Carta
'' began the process of reducing the English monarch's political powers. From 1603, the English and Scottish kingdoms were ruled by a single sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
, which followed the
Wars of the Three Kingdoms The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, were an intertwined series of conflicts that took place between 1639 and 1653 in the kingdoms of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country tha ...
. Following the installation of
William William is a male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually ...

William
and
Mary Mary may refer to: People * Mary (name) Mary is a feminine Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Although femininity is socially constru ...

Mary
as co-monarchs in the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
, the
Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights 1689, also known as the Bill of Rights 1688, is a landmark Act in the constitutional law The principles from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen still have constitutional importance Constitutiona ...
, and its Scottish counterpart the
Claim of Right Act 1689 The Claim of Right is an Act passed by the Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the aut ...
, further curtailed the power of the monarchy and excluded
Roman Catholics The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ri ...
from succession to the throne. In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
, and in 1801, the
Kingdom of Ireland The Kingdom of Ireland ( ga, label= Classical Irish, an Ríoghacht Éireann; ga, label=Modern Irish Irish ( in ), sometimes referred to as Gaelic, is a of the branch of the , which is a part of the . Irish is to the and was the po ...

Kingdom of Ireland
joined to create the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereig ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
. The British monarch was the nominal head of the vast
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
, which covered a quarter of the world's land area at its greatest extent in 1921. In the early 1920s the
Balfour Declaration The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine (region), Palestine, then an ...
recognised the evolution of the
Dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

Dominion
s of the Empire into separate, self-governing countries within a
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territorial evolution of the British Empire, territories of the British Empire. The chief ins ...

Commonwealth of Nations
. In the years after the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent, effectively bringing the Empire to an end.
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was and the s of the from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was concurrently the last until August 1947, when the was dissolved. Known as "B ...

George VI
and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title
Head of the Commonwealth Head of the Commonwealth is a title used by the ceremonial leader who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is ...
as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states. The United Kingdom and fourteen other independent sovereign states that share the same person as their monarch are called
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s. Although the monarch is shared, each country is sovereign and independent of the others, and the monarch has a different, specific, and official national title and style for each realm.


Constitutional role

In the uncodified
Constitution of the United Kingdom The Constitution of the United Kingdom or British constitution comprises the written and unwritten arrangements that establish the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ire ...
, the monarch (otherwise referred to as the
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...

sovereign
or "His/Her
Majesty Majesty (abbreviated HM for His Majesty or Her Majesty, oral address Your Majesty; from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ar ...

Majesty
", abbreviated H.M.) is the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional cha ...
. The Queen's image is used to signify British
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
and government authority—her profile, for instance, appearing on
currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed t ...
, and her portrait in government buildings. The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, and salutes. "
God Save the Queen "God Save the Queen", alternatively "God Save the King" (dependent on the gender of the reigning monarch), is the or in most s, their territories, and the British . The author of the tune is unknown, and it may originate in ; but an attribut ...

God Save the Queen
" (or, alternatively, "God Save the King") is the British
national anthem A national anthem is a Patriotism, patriotic musical composition symbolizing and evoking eulogies of the history and traditions of a country or nation. The majority of national anthems are March (music), marches or hymns in style. Latin America ...
.
Oaths of allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It sha ...

Oaths of allegiance
are made to the Queen and her lawful successors. The monarch takes little direct part in government. The decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the monarch, either by
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
or by
convention Convention may refer to: * Convention (norm), a custom or tradition, a standard of presentation or conduct ** Treaty, an agreement in international law * Convention (meeting), meeting of a (usually large) group of individuals and/or companies in a ...
, to ministers or officers of
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

the Crown
, or other
public bodies A statutory corporation is a corporation created by the state. Their precise nature varies by jurisdiction, thus, they might be ordinary companies/corporations owned by a government with or without other shareholders, or they might be a body witho ...
, exclusive of the monarch personally. Thus the acts of state done in the name of the Crown, such as Crown Appointments, even if personally performed by the monarch, such as the
Queen's Speech A speech from the throne (or throne speech) is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign, or a representative thereof, reads a prepared speech to members of the nation’s legislature when a legislative session, session is ...
and the
State Opening of Parliament#REDIRECT State Opening of Parliament The State Opening of Parliament is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty ...
, depend upon decisions made elsewhere: * Legislative power is exercised by the
Queen-in-Parliament The Queen-in-Parliament (or, during the reign of a male monarch, King-in-Parliament), sometimes referred to as the Crown-in-Parliament, is a technical term of constitutional law in the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign ...
, by and with the advice and consent of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
and the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
. * Executive power is exercised by
Her Majesty's Government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
, which comprises ministers, primarily the
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
and the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
, which is technically a committee of the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
. They have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the
Diplomatic Diplomatics (in American English, and in most anglophone countries), or diplomatic (in British English), is a scholarly discipline centred on the critical analysis of document A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or me ...
and
Secret Services A secret service is a government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of spec ...
(the Queen receives certain foreign intelligence reports before the prime minister does). * Judicial power is vested in the various
judiciaries of the United Kingdom The judiciary of the United Kingdom are the separate judiciaries of the three legal systems in England and Wales, Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, vario ...
, who by constitution and statute have
judicial independence Judicial independence is the concept that the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institut ...
of the Government. * The
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
, of which the monarch is the head, has its own legislative, judicial and executive structures. * Powers independent of government are legally granted to other public bodies by statute or
Statutory Instrument In many countries, a statutory instrument is a form of delegated legislation. United Kingdom Statutory instruments are the principal form of delegated legislation, delegated or secondary legislation in the United Kingdom. National government ...
such as an
Order in Council An Order in Council is a type of legislation in many countries, especially the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, ...
,
Royal Commission A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry A tribunal of inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body. In many common law countries, such as the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
or otherwise. The sovereign's role as a constitutional monarch is largely limited to non-partisan functions, such as granting
honours Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, whi ...
. This role has been recognised since the 19th century. The constitutional writer
Walter Bagehot Walter Bagehot ( ; 3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877) was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, literature and race. He is known for co-founding the ''National Review ''Nati ...

Walter Bagehot
identified the monarchy in 1867 as the "dignified part" rather than the "efficient part" of government.


Appointment of the prime minister

Whenever necessary, the monarch is responsible for appointing a new prime minister (who by convention appoints and may dismiss every other
Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a Minister (government), minister of the reigning sovereign or viceroy. The term indicates that the minister serves ''At Her Majesty's pleasure, at Hi ...
, and thereby constitutes and controls the government). In accordance with unwritten constitutional conventions, the sovereign must appoint an individual who commands the support of the House of Commons, usually the leader of the party or coalition that has a majority in that House. The prime minister takes office by attending the monarch in private audience, and after "
kissing hands To kiss hands is a constitutional term used in the United Kingdom to refer to the formal installation of The Crown, Crown-appointed British government ministers to their office. Overview In the past, it referred to the requirement that the off ...
" that appointment is immediately effective without any other formality or instrument. In a
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an absolute majority of legislators (co ...
where no party or coalition holds a majority, the monarch has an increased degree of latitude in choosing the individual likely to command the most support, though it would usually be the leader of the largest party. Since 1945, there have only been three hung parliaments. The first followed the February 1974 general election when
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
was appointed Prime Minister after
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as from 1970 to 1974 and from 1965 to 1975. Heath also served for 51 years as a from 1950 to 2001. Outside of politics, Heath was a , a musician, ...
resigned following his failure to form a coalition. Although Wilson's
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
did not have a majority, they were the largest party. The second followed the May 2010 general election, in which the
Conservatives Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture Culture () is an umbrella term w ...

Conservatives
(the largest party) and Liberal Democrats (the third largest party) agreed to form the first coalition government since World War II. The third occurred shortly thereafter, in June 2017, when the Conservative Party lost its majority in a snap election, though the party remained in power as a minority government.


Dissolution of Parliament

In 1950 the King's Private Secretary Sir Alan "Tommy" Lascelles, writing pseudonymously to ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' newspaper, asserted a constitutional convention: according to the
Lascelles Principles The Lascelles Principles were a constitutional convention (political custom), constitutional convention in the United Kingdom between 1950 and 2011, under which the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, Sovereign could refuse a request from the Prime Mini ...
, if a minority government asked to dissolve Parliament to call an early election to strengthen its position, the monarch could refuse, and would do so under three conditions. When Harold Wilson requested a dissolution late in 1974, the Queen granted his request as Heath had already failed to form a coalition. The resulting general election gave Wilson a small majority. The monarch could in theory unilaterally dismiss the prime minister, but in practice the prime minister's term nowadays comes to an end only by electoral defeat, death, or resignation. The last monarch to remove the prime minister was
William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

William IV
, who dismissed
Lord Melbourne William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig The Whigs were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated ...

Lord Melbourne
in 1834. The
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (c. 14) (FTPA) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make ...
removed the monarch's authority to dissolve Parliament; however the Act specifically retained the monarch's power of ''prorogation'', which is a regular
feature of the parliamentary calendar
feature of the parliamentary calendar
.


Royal prerogative

Some of the government's executive authority is theoretically and nominally vested in the sovereign and is known as the
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
. The monarch acts within the constraints of convention and precedent, exercising prerogative only on the advice of ministers responsible to Parliament, often through the prime minister or
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
. In practice, prerogative powers are exercised only on the prime minister's advice – the prime minister, and not the sovereign, has control. The monarch holds a weekly audience with the prime minister; no records of these audiences are taken and the proceedings remain fully confidential. The monarch may express his or her views, but, as a constitutional ruler, must ultimately accept the decisions of prime minister and the Cabinet (providing they command the support of the House). In Bagehot's words: "the sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy ... three rights – the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn." Although the royal prerogative is extensive and parliamentary approval is not formally required for its exercise, it is limited. Many Crown prerogatives have fallen out of use or have been permanently transferred to Parliament. For example, the monarch cannot impose and collect new taxes; such an action requires the authorisation of an Act of Parliament. According to a parliamentary report, "The Crown cannot invent new prerogative powers", and Parliament can override any prerogative power by passing legislation. The royal prerogative includes the powers to appoint and dismiss ministers, regulate the civil service, issue passports, declare war, make peace, direct the actions of the military, and negotiate and ratify treaties, alliances, and international agreements. However, a treaty cannot alter the domestic laws of the United Kingdom; an Act of Parliament is necessary in such cases. The monarch is the
Head of the Armed Forces A head is the part of an organism which usually includes the ears, brain, forehead, cheeks, chin, eyes, nose, and mouth, each of which aid in various sensory functions such as visual perception, sight, hearing, olfaction, smell, and taste, respe ...
(the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
, the
British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personnel and 30,020 Army Reserve (United Kingdom), reserve personnel ...
, and the
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
), and accredits British High Commissioners and
ambassador An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It enco ...

ambassador
s, and receives heads of missions from foreign states. It is the prerogative of the monarch to summon and prorogue Parliament. Each parliamentary session begins with the monarch's summons. The new parliamentary session is marked by the
State Opening of Parliament#REDIRECT State Opening of Parliament The State Opening of Parliament is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty ...
, during which the sovereign reads the
Speech from the throne Speech is human vocal communication using language. Each language uses Phonetics, phonetic combinations of vowel and consonant sounds that form the sound of its words (that is, all English words sound different from all French words, even if the ...
in the Chamber of the House of Lords, outlining the Government's legislative agenda. Prorogation usually occurs about one year after a session begins, and formally concludes the session. Dissolution ends a parliamentary term, and is followed by a general election for all seats in the House of Commons. A general election is normally held five years after the previous one under the
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (c. 14) (FTPA) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make ...
, but can be held sooner if the prime minister loses a motion of confidence, or if two-thirds of the members of the House of Commons vote to hold an early election. Before a bill passed by the legislative Houses can become law, the royal assent (the monarch's approval) is required. In theory, assent can either be granted (making the bill law) or withheld (vetoing the bill), but since 1707 assent has always been granted. The monarch has a similar relationship with the
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...
governments of Scotland, Wales, and
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
. The sovereign appoints the
First Minister of Scotland The first minister of Scotland ( sco, heid meinister o Scotland; gd, prìomh mhinistear na h-Alba ) is the leader of the Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the ...
on the nomination of the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; : ''Scots Pairlament'') is the , legislature of . Located in the area of the capital city, , it is frequently referred to by the Holyrood. The Parliament is a democratically elected body ...

Scottish Parliament
, and the
First Minister of Wales The First Minister of Wales ( cy, Prif Weinidog Cymru) is the Leader of the Welsh Government. The First Minister chairs the Welsh Cabinet and is primarily responsible for the formulation, development and presentation of Welsh Government polic ...
on the nomination of the
Senedd Senedd (/ˈsɛnɛð/), a Welsh cognate of "senate", may refer to: * Senedd Cymru – the Welsh Parliament, the devolved legislature of Wales * Senedd building, the building which houses the Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament {{Disambiguation ...

Senedd
. In Scottish matters, the sovereign acts on the advice of the
Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved government of Scotland. It was formed in 1999 as the Scottish Executive following the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 referendum on S ...
. However, as devolution is more limited in Wales, in Welsh matters the sovereign acts on the advice of the prime minister and Cabinet of the United Kingdom. The sovereign can veto any law passed by the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Stormont, is the devolution, devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has ...
, if it is deemed unconstitutional by the
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland The secretary of state for Northern Ireland (; ), also referred to as the Northern Ireland secretary or SoSNI, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred ...
. The sovereign is deemed the "fount of justice"; although the sovereign does not personally rule in judicial cases, judicial functions are performed in his or her name. For instance, prosecutions are brought on the monarch's behalf, and courts derive their authority from the Crown. The common law holds that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted for criminal offences. The
Crown Proceedings Act 1947 The Crown Proceedings Act 1947 (c. 44) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdo ...
allows civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the government), but not lawsuits against the monarch personally. The sovereign exercises the "prerogative of mercy", which is used to
pardon A pardon is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislat ...

pardon
convicted offenders or reduce sentences. The monarch is the "
fount of honourThe fount of honour ( la, fons honorum) is a person, who, by virtue of his or her official position, has the exclusive right of conferring legitimate nobility, titles of nobility and orders of chivalry on other persons. Origin During the High Mid ...
", the source of all honours and dignities in the United Kingdom. The Crown creates all
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
s, appoints members of the
orders of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an of s typically founded during or inspired by the original of the (circa 1099–1291), paired with of ideals of . Since the 15th century, orders of chivalr ...

orders of chivalry
, grants knighthoods and awards other honours. Although peerages and most other honours are granted on the advice of the prime minister, some honours are within the personal gift of the sovereign, and are not granted on ministerial advice. The monarch alone appoints members of the
Order of the Garter (Shame on him who thinks evil of it) , eligibility = , criteria = At Her Majesty's pleasure , status = Currently constituted , founder = Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward ...
, the
Order of the Thistle The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Cathol ...
, the
Royal Victorian Order The Royal Victorian Order (french: Ordre royal de Victoria) is a established in 1896 by . It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the , members of the monarch's family, or to any or senior representative of the monarch ...
and the
Order of Merit An order of merit is an honorific order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, tr ...

Order of Merit
.


History


English monarchy

Following
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Viking
raids and settlement in the ninth century, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of
Wessex Wessex (; ang, Westseaxna rīċe , 'the Kingdom of the West Saxons') was an Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was Kingdom of England, unified by Æthelstan in 927. The Anglo-Sa ...

Wessex
emerged as the dominant English kingdom.
Alfred the Great Alfred the Great (848/49 – 26 October 899) was king of the West Saxons This is a list of monarchs of Wessex until 886 AD. For later monarchs, see the List of English monarchs. While the details of the later monarchs are confirmed by a numbe ...

Alfred the Great
secured Wessex, achieved dominance over western
Mercia Mercia (, ang, Miercna rīċe; la, Merciorum regnum) was one of the kingdoms of the . The name is a of the or (West Saxon dialect; in the Mercian dialect itself), meaning "border people" (see ). Mercia dominated what would later become ...

Mercia
, and assumed the title "King of the English". His grandson
Æthelstan Æthelstan or Athelstan (; ang, Æðelstān ; on, Aðalsteinn; meaning "noble stone"; 894 – 27 October 939) was List of monarchs of Wessex, King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and List of English monarchs, King of the English from 927 ...
was the first king to rule over a unitary kingdom roughly corresponding to the present borders of England, though its constituent parts retained strong regional identities. The 11th century saw England become more stable, despite a number of wars with the Danes, which resulted in a Danish monarchy for one generation. The
conquest of England The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French provinces, all ...
in 1066 by
William, Duke of Normandy William I (c. 1028Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identit ...

William, Duke of Normandy
, was crucial in terms of both political and social change. The new monarch continued the centralisation of power begun in the Anglo-Saxon period, while the
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disco ...
continued to develop. William was succeeded by two of his sons: , then
Henry IHenry I may refer to: 876–1366 * Henry I the Fowler, King of Germany (876–936) * Henry I, Duke of Bavaria (died 955) * Henry I of Austria, Margrave of Austria (died 1018) * Henry I of France (1008–1060) * Henry I the Long, Margrave of the Nord ...

Henry I
. Henry made a controversial decision to name his daughter
Matilda Mesa Associates' Tactical Integrated Light-Force Deployment Assembly (MATILDA) is a remote controlled surveillance and reconnaissance robot created and designed by the Mesa Robotics Corporation. It is available in many different models such as the U ...

Matilda
(his only surviving child) as his heir. Following Henry's death in 1135, one of William I's grandsons,
Stephen Stephen or Steven is a common English given name, first name. It is particularly significant to Christianity, Christians, as it belonged to Saint Stephen ( grc-gre, Στέφανος ), an early disciple and deacon who, according to the Book of Act ...
, laid claim to the throne and took power with the support of most of the
barons Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the ...
. Matilda challenged his reign; as a result, England descended into a period of disorder known as the Anarchy. Stephen maintained a precarious hold on power but agreed to a compromise under which Matilda's son Henry II of England, Henry would succeed him. Henry accordingly became the first Angevin kings of England, Angevin king of England and the first monarch of the Plantagenet dynasty as Henry II in 1154. The reigns of most of the Angevin monarchs were marred by civil strife and conflicts between the monarch and the nobility. Henry II faced rebellions from his own sons, the future monarchs Richard I and John, King of England, John. Nevertheless, Henry managed to expand his kingdom, forming what is retrospectively known as the Angevin Empire. Upon Henry's death, his elder son Richard succeeded to the throne; he was absent from England for most of his reign, as he left to fight in the Crusades. He was killed besieging a castle, and John succeeded him. John's reign was marked by conflict with the barons, particularly over the limits of royal power. In 1215, the barons coerced the king into issuing
Magna Carta (Medieval Latin for "Great Charter of Freedoms"), commonly called (also ''Magna Charta''; "Great Charter"), is a Royal charter, royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, Berkshire, Windsor, on ...

Magna Carta
(Latin for "Great Charter") to guarantee the rights and liberties of the nobility. Soon afterwards, further disagreements plunged England into a civil war known as the First Barons' War. The war came to an abrupt end after John died in 1216, leaving the Crown to his nine-year-old son Henry III of England, Henry III. Later in Henry's reign, Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort led the barons in another rebellion, beginning the Second Barons' War. The war ended in a clear royalist victory and in the death of many rebels, but not before the king had agreed to summon a parliament in 1265. The next monarch, Edward Longshanks, was far more successful in maintaining royal power and responsible for the Conquest of Wales by Edward I, conquest of Wales. He attempted to establish English domination of Scotland. However, gains in Scotland were reversed during the reign of his successor, Edward II, who also faced conflict with the nobility. In 1311, Edward II was forced to relinquish many of his powers to a committee of Ordinances of 1311, baronial "ordainers"; however, military victories helped him regain control in 1322. Nevertheless, in 1327, Edward was deposed by his wife Isabella of France, Isabella. His 14-year-old son became Edward III. Edward III claimed the French Crown, setting off the Hundred Years' War between England and France. His campaigns conquered much French territory, but by 1374, all the gains had been lost. Edward's reign was also marked by the further development of Parliament, which came to be divided into two Houses. In 1377, Edward III died, leaving the Crown to his 10-year-old grandson Richard II. Like many of his predecessors, Richard II conflicted with the nobles by attempting to concentrate power in his own hands. In 1399, while he was campaigning in Ireland, his cousin Henry Bolingbroke seized power. Richard was deposed, imprisoned, and eventually murdered, probably by starvation, and Henry became king as Henry IV. Henry IV was the grandson of Edward III and the son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; hence, his dynasty was known as the House of Lancaster. For most of his reign, Henry IV was forced to fight off plots and rebellions; his success was partly due to the military skill of his son, the future Henry V of England, Henry V. Henry V's own reign, which began in 1413, was largely free from domestic strife, leaving the king free to pursue the Hundred Years' War in France. Although he was victorious, his sudden death in 1422 left his infant son Henry VI of England, Henry VI on the throne and gave the French an opportunity to overthrow English rule. The unpopularity of Henry VI's counsellors and his consort, Margaret of Anjou, as well as his own ineffectual leadership, led to the weakening of the House of Lancaster. The Lancastrians faced a challenge from the House of York, so called because its head, a descendant of Edward III, was Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, Richard, Duke of York, who was at odds with the Queen. Although the Duke of York died in battle in 1460, his eldest son, Edward IV, led the Yorkists to victory in 1461, overthrowing Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. Edward IV was constantly at odds with the Lancastrians and his own councilors after his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, with a brief return to power for Henry VI. Edward IV prevailed, winning back the throne at Battle of Barnet, Barnet and killing the Lancastrian heir, Edward of Westminster, at Tewkesbury. Afterwards, he captured Margaret of Anjou, eventually sending her into exile, but not before killing Henry VI while he was held prisoner in the Tower. The Wars of the Roses, nevertheless, continued intermittently during his reign and those of his son Edward V and brother Richard III. Edward V disappeared, presumably murdered by Richard. Ultimately, the conflict culminated in success for the Lancastrian branch led by Henry VII of England, Henry Tudor, in 1485, when Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field. King Henry VII then neutralised the remaining Yorkist forces, partly by marrying Elizabeth of York, a Yorkist heir. Through skill and ability, Henry re-established absolute supremacy in the realm, and the conflicts with the nobility that had plagued previous monarchs came to an end. The reign of the second Tudor king, Henry VIII, was one of great political change. Religious upheaval and disputes with the Pope, and the fact that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon produced only one surviving child, a daughter, led the monarch to break from the Roman Catholic Church and to establish the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
(the Anglican Church) and divorce his wife to marry Anne Boleyn. Wales – which had been conquered centuries earlier, but had remained a separate dominion – was annexed to England under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. Henry VIII's son and successor, the young Edward VI, continued with further religious reforms, but his early death in 1553 precipitated a succession crisis. He was wary of allowing his Catholic elder half-sister Mary I of England, Mary I to succeed, and therefore drew up a will designating Lady Jane Grey as his heiress. Jane's reign, however, lasted only nine days; with tremendous popular support, Mary deposed her and declared herself the lawful sovereign. Mary I married Philip II of Spain, Philip of Spain, who was declared king and co-ruler. He pursued disastrous wars in France and she attempted to return England to Roman Catholicism (burning Protestants at the stake as heretics in the process). Upon her death in 1558, the pair were succeeded by her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth I. England returned to Protestantism and continued its growth into a major world power by building its navy and exploring the New World.


Scottish monarchy

In Scotland, as in England, monarchies emerged after the withdrawal of the Roman empire from Britain in the early fifth century. The three groups that lived in Scotland at this time were the Picts in the north east, the Celtic Britons, Britons in the south, including the Kingdom of Strathclyde, and the Gaels or Scoti, Scotti (who would later give their name to Scotland), of the Irish petty kingdom of Dál Riata in the west. Kenneth MacAlpin is traditionally viewed as the first king of a united Scotland (known as Scotia to writers in Latin, or kingdom of Alba, Alba to the Scots). The expansion of Scottish dominions continued over the next two centuries, as other territories such as Strathclyde were absorbed. Early Scottish monarchs did not inherit the Crown directly; instead the custom of tanistry was followed, where the monarchy alternated between different branches of the House of Alpin. As a result, however, the rival dynastic lines clashed, often violently. From 942 to 1005, seven consecutive monarchs were either murdered or killed in battle. In 1005, Malcolm II ascended the throne having killed many rivals. He continued to ruthlessly eliminate opposition, and when he died in 1034 he was succeeded by his grandson, Duncan I, instead of a cousin, as had been usual. In 1040, Duncan suffered defeat in battle at the hands of Macbeth, King of Scotland, Macbeth, who was killed himself in 1057 by Duncan's son Malcolm III of Scotland, Malcolm. The following year, after killing Macbeth's stepson Lulach, Malcolm ascended the throne as Malcolm III. With a further series of battles and deposings, five of Malcolm's sons as well as one of his brothers successively became king. Eventually, the Crown came to his youngest son, David I of Scotland, David I. David was succeeded by his grandsons Malcolm IV, and then by William the Lion, the longest-reigning King of Scots before the Union of the Crowns. William participated in a rebellion against King Henry II of England but when the rebellion failed, William was captured by the English. In exchange for his release, William was forced to acknowledge Henry as his feudal overlord. The English King Richard I agreed to terminate the arrangement in 1189, in return for a large sum of money needed for the Crusades. William died in 1214, and was succeeded by his son Alexander II of Scotland, Alexander II. Alexander II, as well as his successor Alexander III of Scotland, Alexander III, attempted to take over the Western Isles, which were still under the overlordship of Norway. During the reign of Alexander III, Norway launched an unsuccessful invasion of Scotland; the ensuing Treaty of Perth recognised Scottish control of the Western Isles and other disputed areas. Alexander III's unexpected death in a riding accident in 1286 precipitated a major succession crisis. Scottish leaders appealed to King Edward I of England for help in determining who was the rightful heir. Edward chose Alexander's three-year-old Norwegian granddaughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway, Margaret. On her way to Scotland in 1290, however, Margaret died at sea, and Edward was again asked to adjudicate between Competitors for the Crown of Scotland, 13 rival claimants to the throne. A court was set up and after two years of deliberation, it pronounced John Balliol to be king. Edward proceeded to treat Balliol as a vassal, and tried to exert influence over Scotland. In 1295, when Balliol renounced his allegiance to England, Edward I invaded. During the first ten years of the ensuing Wars of Scottish Independence, Scotland had no monarch, until Robert the Bruce declared himself king in 1306. Robert's efforts to control Scotland culminated in success, and Scottish independence was acknowledged in 1328. However, only one year later, Robert died and was succeeded by his five-year-old son, David II of Scotland, David II. On the pretext of restoring John Balliol's rightful heir, Edward Balliol, the English again invaded in 1332. During the next four years, Balliol was crowned, deposed, restored, deposed, restored, and deposed until he eventually settled in England, and David remained king for the next 35 years. David II died childless in 1371 and was succeeded by his nephew Robert II of Scotland, Robert II of the House of Stuart. The reigns of both Robert II and his successor, Robert III of Scotland, Robert III, were marked by a general decline in royal power. When Robert III died in 1406, regents had to rule the country; the monarch, Robert III's son James I of Scotland, James I, had been taken captive by the English. Having paid a large ransom, James returned to Scotland in 1424; to restore his authority, he used ruthless measures, including the execution of several of his enemies. He was assassinated by a group of nobles. James II of Scotland, James II continued his father's policies by subduing influential noblemen but he was killed in an accident at the age of thirty, and a council of regents again assumed power. James III of Scotland, James III was defeated in a battle against rebellious Scottish earls in 1488, leading to another boy-king: James IV. In 1513 James IV launched an invasion of England, attempting to take advantage of the absence of the English King Henry VIII. His forces met with disaster at Battle of Flodden, Flodden Field; the King, many senior noblemen, and hundreds of soldiers were killed. As his son and successor, James V, was an infant, the government was again taken over by regents. James V led another disastrous war with the English in 1542, and his death in the same year left the Crown in the hands of his six-day-old daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary I. Once again, a regency was established. Mary, a Roman Catholic, reigned during a period of great religious upheaval in Scotland. As a result of the efforts of reformers such as John Knox, a Protestant ascendancy was established. Mary caused alarm by marrying her Catholic cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Lord Darnley, in 1565. After Lord Darnley's assassination in 1567, Mary contracted an even more unpopular marriage with the James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, Earl of Bothwell, who was widely suspected of Darnley's murder. The nobility rebelled against the Queen, forcing her to abdicate. She fled to England, and the Crown went to her infant son James VI, who was brought up as a Protestant. Mary was imprisoned and later executed by the English queen Elizabeth I.


Personal union and republican phase

Elizabeth I's death in 1603 ended Tudor rule in England. Since she had no children, she was succeeded by the Scottish monarch James VI, who was the great-grandson of Henry VIII's older sister and hence Elizabeth's first cousin twice removed. James VI ruled in England as James I after what was known as the "Union of the Crowns". Although England and Scotland were in personal union under one monarch – James I & VI became the first monarch to style himself "King of Great Britain" in 1604 – they remained two separate kingdoms. James I & VI's successor, Charles I of England, Charles I, experienced frequent conflicts with the English Parliament related to the issue of royal and parliamentary powers, especially the power to impose taxes. He provoked opposition by ruling without Parliament from 1629 to 1640, unilaterally levying taxes and adopting controversial religious policies (many of which were offensive to the Scottish Presbyterians and the English Puritans). His attempt to enforce Anglicanism led to organised rebellion in Scotland (the "Bishops' Wars") and ignited the
Wars of the Three Kingdoms The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, were an intertwined series of conflicts that took place between 1639 and 1653 in the kingdoms of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country tha ...
. In 1642, the conflict between the King and English Parliament reached its climax and the English Civil War began. The Civil War culminated in the execution of the king in 1649, the overthrow of the English monarchy, and the establishment of the
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
. Charles I's son, Charles II of England, Charles II, was proclaimed King of Great Britain in Scotland, but he was forced to flee abroad after he invaded England and was defeated at the Battle of Worcester. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell, the most prominent military and political leader in the nation, seized power and declared himself Lord Protector (effectively becoming a military dictator, but refusing the title of king). Cromwell ruled until his death in 1658, when he was succeeded by his son Richard Cromwell, Richard. The new Lord Protector had little interest in governing; he soon resigned. The lack of clear leadership led to civil and military unrest, and to a popular desire to restore the monarchy. In 1660, the Restoration (England), monarchy was restored and Charles II returned to Britain. Charles II's reign was marked by the development of the first modern political parties in England. Charles had no legitimate children, and was due to be succeeded by his Roman Catholic brother, James II of England, James, Duke of York. A parliamentary effort to exclude James from the Succession to the British throne, line of succession arose; the "Petitioners", who supported exclusion, became the Whig Party, whereas the "Abhorrers", who opposed exclusion, became the Tory Party. The Exclusion Bill failed; on several occasions, Charles II dissolved Parliament because he feared that the bill might pass. After the dissolution of the Parliament of 1681, Charles ruled without a Parliament until his death in 1685. When James succeeded Charles, he pursued a policy of offering religious tolerance to Roman Catholics, thereby drawing the ire of many of his Protestant subjects. Many opposed James's decisions to maintain a large standing army, to appoint Roman Catholics to high political and military offices, and to imprison Seven Bishops, Church of England clerics who challenged his policies. As a result, a group of Protestants known as the Immortal Seven invited James II & VII's daughter
Mary Mary may refer to: People * Mary (name) Mary is a feminine Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Although femininity is socially constru ...

Mary
and her husband William III of Orange to depose the king. William obliged, arriving in England on 5 November 1688 to great public support. Faced with the defection of many of his Protestant officials, James fled the realm and William and Mary (rather than James Francis Edward Stuart, James II & VII's Catholic son) were declared joint Sovereigns of England, Scotland and Ireland. James's overthrow, known as the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
, was one of the most important events in the long evolution of parliamentary power. The
Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights 1689, also known as the Bill of Rights 1688, is a landmark Act in the constitutional law The principles from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen still have constitutional importance Constitutiona ...
affirmed parliamentary supremacy, and declared that the English people held certain rights, including the freedom from taxes imposed without parliamentary consent. The Bill of Rights required future monarchs to be Protestants, and provided that, after any children of William and Mary, Mary's sister Anne, Queen of Great Britain, Anne would inherit the Crown. Mary II died childless in 1694, leaving William III & II as the sole monarch. By 1700, a political crisis arose, as all of Anne's children had died, leaving her as the only individual left in the line of succession. Parliament was afraid that the former James II or his supporters, known as Jacobitism, Jacobites, might attempt to reclaim the throne. Parliament passed the Act of Settlement 1701, which excluded James and his Catholic relations from the succession and made William's nearest Protestant relations, the family of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, next in line to the throne after his sister-in-law Anne. Soon after the passage of the Act, William III & II died, leaving the Crown to Anne.


After the 1707 Acts of Union

After Anne's accession, the problem of the succession re-emerged. The Scottish Parliament, infuriated that the English Parliament did not consult them on the choice of Sophia's family as the next heirs, passed the Act of Security 1704, threatening to end the personal union between England and Scotland. The Parliament of England retaliated with the Alien Act 1705, threatening to devastate the Scottish economy by restricting trade. The Scottish and English parliaments negotiated the Acts of Union 1707, under which England and Scotland were united into a single
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
, with succession under the rules prescribed by the Act of Settlement. In 1714, Queen Anne was succeeded by her second cousin, and Sophia's son, George I of Great Britain, George I, Elector of Hanover, who consolidated his position by defeating Jacobite rebellions in 1715 and 1719. The new monarch was less active in government than many of his British predecessors, but retained control over his German kingdoms, with which Britain was now in personal union. Power shifted towards George's ministers, especially to Sir Robert Walpole, who is often considered the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, British prime minister, although the title was not then in use. The next monarch, George II of Great Britain, George II, witnessed the final end of the Jacobite threat in 1746, when the Catholic Stuarts were completely defeated. During the long reign of his grandson, George III, Britain's American colonies were lost, the former colonies having formed the United States, United States of America, but British influence elsewhere in the world continued to grow, and the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereig ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
was created by the Acts of Union 1800. From 1811 to 1820, George III suffered a severe bout of what is now believed to be porphyria, an illness rendering him incapable of ruling. His son, the future George IV of the United Kingdom, George IV, ruled in his stead as Regent of the United Kingdom, Prince Regent. During Regency era, the Regency and his own reign, the power of the monarchy declined, and by the time of his successor,
William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

William IV
, the monarch was no longer able to effectively interfere with parliamentary power. In 1834, William dismissed the Whig Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, and appointed a Tory, Sir Robert Peel. In the ensuing elections, however, Peel lost. The king had no choice but to recall Lord Melbourne. During William IV's reign, the Reform Act 1832, which reformed parliamentary representation, was passed. Together with others passed later in the century, the Act led to an expansion of the electoral franchise and the rise of the House of Commons as the most important branch of Parliament. The final transition to a constitutional monarchy was made during the long reign of William IV's successor, Queen Victoria, Victoria. As a woman, Victoria could not rule Kingdom of Hanover, Hanover, which only permitted succession in the male line, so the personal union of the United Kingdom and Hanover came to an end. The Victorian era was marked by great cultural change, technological progress, and the establishment of the United Kingdom as one of the world's foremost powers. In recognition of British Raj, British rule over India, Victoria was declared Empress of India in 1876. However, her reign was also marked by increased support for the Republicanism in the United Kingdom, republican movement, due in part to Victoria's permanent mourning and lengthy period of seclusion following the death of Albert, Prince Consort, her husband in 1861. Victoria's son, Edward VII, became the first monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1901. In 1917, the next monarch, George V, changed "Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" to "House of Windsor, Windsor" in response to the anti-German sympathies aroused by the World War I, First World War. George V's reign was marked by the separation of Ireland into Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom, and the Irish Free State, an independent nation, in 1922.


Shared monarchy

During the twentieth century, the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territorial evolution of the British Empire, territories of the British Empire. The chief ins ...

Commonwealth of Nations
evolved from the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. Prior to 1926, the British Crown reigned over the British Empire collectively; the
Dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

Dominion
s and Crown Colonies were subordinate to the United Kingdom. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 gave complete self-government to the Dominions, effectively creating a system whereby a single monarch operated independently in each separate Dominion. The concept was solidified by the Statute of Westminster 1931, which has been likened to "a treaty among the Commonwealth countries". The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution, although it is often still referred to as "British" for legal and historical reasons and for convenience. The monarch became separately monarch of the United Kingdom, monarch of Canada, monarch of Australia, and so forth. The independent states within the Commonwealth would share the same monarch in a relationship likened to a personal union. George V's death in 1936 was followed by the accession of Edward VIII, who caused a public scandal by announcing his desire to marry the divorced American Wallis Simpson, even though the Church of England opposed the remarriage of divorcees. Accordingly, Edward announced his intention to Edward VIII abdication crisis, abdicate; the Parliaments of the United Kingdom and of other Commonwealth countries granted his request. Edward VIII and any children by his new wife were excluded from the line of succession, and the Crown went to his brother,
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was and the s of the from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was concurrently the last until August 1947, when the was dissolved. Known as "B ...

George VI
. George served as a rallying figure for the British people during World War II, making morale-boosting visits to the troops as well as to munitions factories and to areas bombed by Nazi Germany. In June 1948 George VI relinquished the title ''Emperor of India'', although remaining head of state of the Dominion of India. At first, every member of the Commonwealth retained the same monarch as the United Kingdom, but when the Dominion of India became a republic in 1950, it would no longer share in a common monarchy. Instead, the British monarch was acknowledged as "
Head of the Commonwealth Head of the Commonwealth is a title used by the ceremonial leader who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is ...
" in all Commonwealth member states, whether they were realms or republics. The position is purely ceremonial, and is not inherited by the British monarch as of right but is vested in an individual chosen by the Commonwealth heads of government. Member states of the Commonwealth that share the same person as monarch are informally known as
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s.


Monarchy in Ireland

In 1155 the only English Pope, Adrian IV, authorised King Henry II of England to take possession of Ireland as a feudal territory nominally under papal overlordship. The Pope wanted the English monarch to annex Ireland and bring the Celtic Christianity, Irish church into line with Rome, despite this process already underway in Ireland by 1155. An High King of Ireland, all-island kingship of Ireland had been created in 854 by Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid. His last successor was Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, who had become High King of Ireland in early 1166 and exiled Diarmait Mac Murchada, the King of Kingdom of Leinster, Leinster, a vassal kingdom. Diarmait asked Henry II for help, gaining a group of Anglo-Norman aristocrats and adventurers, led by Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, to help him regain his throne. Diarmait and his Anglo-Norman allies succeeded and he became King of Leinster again. De Clare married Diarmait's daughter, and when Diarmait died in 1171, de Clare became King of Leinster. Henry was afraid that de Clare would make Ireland a rival Norman kingdom, so he took advantage of the papal bull and invaded, forcing de Clare and the other Anglo-Norman aristocrats in Ireland and the Gaelic nobility, major Irish kings and lords to recognize him as their Lordship of Ireland, overlord. By 1541, English Reformation, King Henry VIII of England had broken with the Church of Rome and declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. The Pope's grant of Ireland to the English monarch became invalid, so Henry summoned a meeting of the Parliament of Ireland, Irish Parliament to change his title from ''Lord of Ireland'' to ''King of Ireland''. In 1800, as a result of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Act of Union merged the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland into the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereig ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
. The whole island of Ireland continued to be a part of the United Kingdom until 1922, when what is now the Republic of Ireland won independence as the Irish Free State, a separate Dominion within the Commonwealth. The Irish Free State was renamed Ireland in 1937, and in 1949 declared itself a republic, left the Commonwealth and severed all ties with the monarchy.
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
remained within the Union. In 1927, the United Kingdom changed its name to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, while the monarch's style for the next twenty years became "of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India".


Modern status

In the 1990s, republicanism in the United Kingdom grew, partly on account of negative publicity associated with the Royal Family (for instance, immediately following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales). However, polls from 2002 to 2007 showed that around 70–80% of the British public supported the continuation of the monarchy. This support has remained constant since then—according to a 2018 survey, a majority of the British public across all age groups still support the monarchy's continuation.


Religious role

The sovereign is the supreme governor of the Established church, established
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
. Archbishops and bishops are appointed by the monarch, on the advice of the prime minister, who chooses the appointee from a list of nominees prepared by a Church Commission. The Crown's role in the Church of England is titular; the most senior clergyman, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is the spiritual leader of the Church and of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The monarch takes an oath to preserve the Church of Scotland and he or she holds the power to appoint the Lord High Commissioner to the Church's General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, General Assembly, but otherwise plays no part in its governance, and exerts no powers over it. The sovereign plays no formal role in the disestablished Church in Wales or Church of Ireland.


Succession

The relationship between the Commonwealth realms is such that any change to the laws governing succession to the shared throne requires the unanimous consent of all the realms. Succession is governed by statutes such as the
Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights 1689, also known as the Bill of Rights 1688, is a landmark Act in the constitutional law The principles from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen still have constitutional importance Constitutiona ...
, the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Acts of Union 1707. The rules of succession may only be changed by an Act of Parliament; it is not possible for an individual to renounce his or her right of succession. The Act of Settlement restricts the succession to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover (1630–1714), a granddaughter of James VI and I, James I. Upon the death of a sovereign, their heir immediately and automatically succeeds (hence the phrase "The king is dead, long live the king!"), and the accession of the new sovereign is publicly proclaimed by an Accession Council that meets at St James's Palace. Upon their accession, a new sovereign is required by law to make and subscribe several oaths: the Accession Declaration as first required by the Bill of Rights, and an oath that they will "maintain and preserve" the Church of Scotland settlement as required by the Act of Union. The monarch is usually coronation of the British monarch, crowned in Westminster Abbey, normally by the Archbishop of Canterbury. A coronation is not necessary for a sovereign to reign; indeed, the ceremony usually takes place many months after accession to allow sufficient time for its preparation and for a period of mourning. When an individual ascends the throne, it is expected they will reign until death. The only voluntary abdication, that of Edward VIII, had to be authorised by a special Act of Parliament, His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936. The last monarch involuntarily removed from power was James VII and II, who fled into exile in 1688 during the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
.


Restrictions by gender and religion

Succession was largely governed by primogeniture, male-preference cognatic primogeniture, under which sons inherit before daughters, and elder children inherit before younger ones of the same gender. The British prime minister, David Cameron, announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 that all 16
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s, including the United Kingdom, had agreed to abolish the gender-preference rule for anyone born after the date of the meeting, 28 October 2011. They also agreed that future monarchs would no longer be prohibited from marrying a Roman Catholic – a law which dated from the Act of Settlement 1701. However, since the monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the laws which restrict the throne to Protestants remain. The necessary UK legislation making the changes received the royal assent on 25 April 2013 and was brought into force in March 2015 after the equivalent legislation was approved in all the other Commonwealth realms. Though Catholics are prohibited from succeeding and are deemed "naturally dead" for succession purposes, the disqualification does not extend to the individual's legitimate Protestant descendants.


Regency

The Regency Acts allow for regencies in the event of a monarch who is a minor or who is physically or mentally incapacitated. When a regency is necessary, the next qualified individual in the line of succession automatically becomes regent, unless they themselves are a minor or incapacitated. Special provisions were made for Queen Elizabeth II by the Regency Act 1953, which stated that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh (the Queen's husband) could act as regent in these circumstances. Since reaching adulthood (in November 1966), Charles, Prince of Wales, has been first in line for the regency. During a temporary physical infirmity or an absence from the kingdom, the sovereign may temporarily delegate some of his or her functions to Counsellor of State, Counsellors of State, the monarch's spouse and the first four adults in the line of succession. The present Counsellors of State are: the Prince of Wales, the Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, the Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Duke of Sussex and the Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Duke of York.


Finances

Until 1760 the monarch met all official expenses from hereditary revenues, which included the profits of the Crown Estate (the royal property portfolio). King George III agreed to surrender the hereditary revenues of the Crown in return for the Civil list#United Kingdom, Civil List, and this arrangement persisted until 2012. An annual Property Services grant-in-aid paid for the upkeep of the royal residences, and an annual Royal Travel Grant-in-Aid paid for travel. The Civil List covered most expenses, including those for staffing, state visits, public engagements, and official entertainment. Its size was fixed by Parliament every 10 years; any money saved was carried forward to the next 10-year period. From 2012 until 2020, the Civil List and Grants-in-Aid are to be replaced with a single Sovereign Grant, which will be set at 15% of the revenues generated by the Crown Estate. The Crown Estate is one of the largest property portfolios in the United Kingdom, with holdings of £7.3 billion in 2011. It is held in trust, and cannot be sold or owned by the sovereign in a private capacity. In modern times, the profits surrendered from the Crown Estate to the Treasury have exceeded the Civil List and Grants-in-Aid. For example, the Crown Estate produced £200 million in the financial year 2007–8, whereas reported parliamentary funding for the monarch was £40 million during the same period. Like the Crown Estate, the land and assets of the Duchy of Lancaster, a property portfolio valued at £383 million in 2011, are held in trust. The revenues of the Duchy form part of the Privy Purse, and are used for expenses not borne by the parliamentary grants. The Duchy of Cornwall is a similar estate held in trust to meet the expenses of the monarch's eldest son. The Royal Collection, which includes artworks and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, Crown Jewels, is not owned by the sovereign personally and is held Trust law, in trust, as are the occupied palaces in the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The sovereign is subject to indirect taxes such as Value-added tax (United Kingdom), value-added tax, and since 1993 the Queen has paid income tax and capital gains tax on personal income. Parliamentary grants to the sovereign are not treated as income as they are solely for official expenditure. Republicans estimate that the real cost of the monarchy, including security and potential income not claimed by the state, such as profits from the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall and rent of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, is £334 million a year. Estimates of the Queen's wealth vary, depending on whether assets owned by her personally or held in trust for the nation are included. ''Forbes'' magazine estimated her wealth at US$450 million in 2010, but no official figure is available. In 1993, the Lord Chamberlain said estimates of £100 million were "grossly overstated". Jock Colville, who was her former private secretary and a director of her bank, Coutts, estimated her wealth in 1971 at £2 million (the equivalent of about £ today).


Residences

The sovereign's official residence in London is Buckingham Palace. It is the site of most state banquets, investitures, royal christenings and other ceremonies. Another official residence is Windsor Castle, the largest occupied castle in the world, which is used principally at weekends, Easter and during Ascot Racecourse, Royal Ascot, an annual race meeting that is part of the Season (society), social calendar. The sovereign's official residence in Scotland is the Holyrood Palace, Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The monarch stays at Holyrood for at least one week each year, and when visiting Scotland on state occasions. Historically, the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London were the main residences of the English Sovereign until Henry VIII acquired the Palace of Whitehall. Whitehall was destroyed by fire in 1698, leading to a shift to St James's Palace. Although replaced as the monarch's primary London residence by Buckingham Palace in 1837, St James's is still the senior palace and remains the ceremonial Royal residence. For example, foreign ambassadors are accredited to the Court of St James's, and the Palace is the site of the meeting of the Accession Council. It is also used by other members of the Royal Family. Other residences include Clarence House and Kensington Palace. The palaces belong to the Crown; they are held in trust for future rulers, and cannot be sold by the monarch. Sandringham House in Norfolk and Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire (historic), Aberdeenshire are privately owned by the Queen.


Style

The present sovereign's full style and title is "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith". The title "
Head of the Commonwealth Head of the Commonwealth is a title used by the ceremonial leader who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is ...
" is held by the Queen personally, and is not vested in the British Crown. Pope Leo X first granted the title "Fidei defensor, Defender of the Faith" to King Henry VIII in 1521, rewarding him for his support of the Papacy during the early years of the Protestant Reformation, particularly for his book the Defence of the Seven Sacraments. After Henry broke from the Roman Church, Pope Paul III revoked the grant, but Parliament passed a law authorising its continued use. The sovereign is known as "His Majesty" or "Her Majesty". The form "Britannic Majesty" appears in international treaties and on British passport, passports to differentiate the British monarch from foreign rulers. The monarch chooses his or her regnal name, not necessarily his or her first name –
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was and the s of the from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was concurrently the last until August 1947, when the was dissolved. Known as "B ...

George VI
, Edward VII and Queen Victoria, Victoria did not use their first names. If only one monarch has used a particular name, no Regnal number, ordinal is used; for example, Queen Victoria is not known as "Victoria I", and ordinals are not used for English monarchs who reigned before the Norman conquest of England. The question of whether numbering for British monarchs is based on previous English or Scottish monarchs was raised in 1953 when Scottish nationalists challenged the Queen's use of "Elizabeth II", on the grounds that there had never been an "Elizabeth I" in Scotland. In ''MacCormick v Lord Advocate'', the Scottish Court of Session ruled against the plaintiffs, finding that the Queen's title was a matter of her own choice and prerogative. The Home Secretary told the House of Commons that monarchs since the Acts of Union had consistently used the higher of the English and Scottish ordinals, which in the applicable four cases has been the English ordinal. The prime minister confirmed this practice, but noted that "neither The Queen nor her advisers could seek to bind their successors". Future monarchs will apply this policy.


Arms

The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom are "Quarterly, I and IV Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or [for England]; II Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules [for Scotland]; III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent [for Ireland]". The supporters are the Lion and the Unicorn; the motto is "Dieu et mon droit" (French: "God and my Right"). Surrounding the shield is a representation of a Garter (stockings), Garter bearing the motto of the Chivalric order of the same name; "Honi soit qui mal y pense". (Old French: "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it"). In Scotland, the monarch uses an alternative form of the arms in which quarters I and IV represent Scotland, II England, and III Ireland. The mottoes are "In Defens" (an abbreviated form of the Scots language, Scots "In My Defens God Me Defend") and the motto of the
Order of the Thistle The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Cathol ...
, "Nemo me impune lacessit" (Latin: "No-one provokes me with impunity"); the supporters are the unicorn and lion, who support both the escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon and lances, from which fly the flags of flag of Scotland, Scotland and flag of England, England. The monarch's official flag in the United Kingdom is the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom, Royal Standard, which depicts the Royal Arms in banner of arms, banner form. It is flown only from buildings, vessels and vehicles in which the sovereign is present. The Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast because there is always a sovereign: when one dies, his or her successor becomes the sovereign instantly. When the monarch is not in residence, the Union Flag is flown at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Sandringham House, whereas in Scotland the Royal Standard of Scotland is flown at Holyrood Palace and Balmoral Castle.


See also

*States headed by Elizabeth II *List of British monarchs


Notes


References

* Mike Ashley (writer), Ashley, Mike (1998). ''The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens''. London: Robinson. . * Walter Bagehot, Bagehot, Walter; edited by Paul Smith (2001). ''The English Constitution''. Cambridge University Press. * Brazier, Rodney (1997). ''Ministers of the Crown''. Oxford University Press. * Brock, Michael (September 2004; online edition, January 2008)
"William IV (1765–1837)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography''. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 April 2008 (subscription required). * Castor, Helen (2010). ''She-Wolves: the Women who Ruled England Before Elizabeth''. Faber and Faber. * Cannon, John; Griffiths, Ralph (1988). ''The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy.'' Oxford: Oxford University Press. * Vincent Cyril Richard Arthur Charles Crabbe, Crabbe, V.C.R.A.C. (1994). ''Understanding Statutes''. Cavendish Publishing. * Flanagan, M. T. (2004)
"Mac Murchada, Diarmait (c.1110–1171)"
an
Clare, Richard fitz Gilbert de, second earl of Pembroke (c.1130–1176)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography''. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 14 October 2008 (subscription required). * Antonia Fraser, Fraser, Antonia (Editor) (1975). ''The Lives of the Kings & Queens of England.'' London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. . * Ives, E. W. (September 2004; online edition, January 2008)
"Henry VIII (1491–1547)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography''. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 April 2008 (subscription required). * Colin Matthew, Matthew, H. C. G. (2004)
"Edward VIII (later Prince Edward, duke of Windsor) (1894–1972)"
an
"George VI (1895–1952)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography''. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 14 October 2008 (subscription required). * Pimlott, Ben. ''The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II.'' (1998) * Sayers, Jane E. (2004)
"Adrian IV (d. 1159)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography''. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 April 2008 (subscription required). * Tomkins, Adam (2003). ''Public Law''. N.Y.: Oxford University Press (Clarendon Law ser.). * Waldron, Jeremy (1990). ''The Law''. Routledge. * Alison Weir, Weir, Alison (1996). ''Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy''. (Revised edition). London: Pimlico. .


External links


Official website of the British monarchy
{{DEFAULTSORT:Monarchy of the United Kingdom British monarchy, Government of the United Kingdom Westminster system Commonwealth realms, United Kingdom Kingdoms Heads of state of the United Kingdom