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Meaning

Letters patent are a form of open or public proclamation[3] and a vestigial exercise of extra-parliamentary power by a monarch or president. Prior to the establishment of Parliament, the monarch ruled absolutely by the issuing of his personal written orders, open or closed.

They can thus be contrasted with the Act of Parliament, which is in effect a written order by Parliament involving assent by the monarch in conjunction with its members. No explicit government approval is contained within letters patent, only the seal or signature of the monarch.

Parliament today tolerates only a very narrow exercise of the royal prerogative by issuance of letters patent, and such documents are issued with prior informal government approval, or indeed are now generated by government itself with the monarch's seal affixed as a mere formality. In their original form they were simply written instructions or orders from the sovereign, whose order was law, which were made public to reinforce their effect.

For the sake of good governance, it is of little use if the sovereign appoints a person to a posi

They are called "letters" (plural) from their Latin name litterae patentes, used by medieval and later scribes when the documents were written in Latin. This loanword preserves the collective plural "letters" (litterae) that the Latin language uses to denote a message as opposed to a single alphabet letter (littera).[2]

Letters patent are a form of open or public proclamation[3] and a vestigial exercise of extra-parliamentary power by a monarch or president. Prior to the establishment of Parliament, the monarch ruled absolutely by the issuing of his personal written orders, open or closed.

They can thus be contrasted with the Act of Parliament, which is in effect a written order by Parliament involving assent by the monarch in conjunction wit

They can thus be contrasted with the Act of Parliament, which is in effect a written order by Parliament involving assent by the monarch in conjunction with its members. No explicit government approval is contained within letters patent, only the seal or signature of the monarch.

Parliament today tolerates only a very narrow exercise of the royal prerogative by issuance of letters patent, and such documents are issued with prior informal government approval, or indeed are now generated by government itself with the monarch's seal affixed as a mere formality. In their original form they were simply written instructions or orders from the sovereign, whose order was law, which were made public to reinforce their effect.

For the sake of good governance, it is of little use if the sovereign appoints a person to a position of authority but does not at the same time inform those over whom such authority is to be exercised of the validity of the appointment.

According to the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice, there are 92 different types of letters patent.[4] The Patent Rolls are made up of office copies of English (and later United Kingdom) royal letters patent, which run in an almost unbroken series from 1201 to the present day, with most of those to 1625 having been published.

The form of letters patent for creating peerages has been fixed by the Crown Office (Forms and Proclamations Rules) Order 1992 (SI 1992/1730). Part III of the schedule lays down nine pro forma texts for creating various ranks of the peerage, lords of appeal in ordinary, and baronets.

The following table organises the text from the letters patent by columns for each rank, with common text spanning multiple columns, depicting some of the similarities and differences among the proclamations. Gender-specific differences are highlighted in italics.

See also