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Role of the Monarch

Updated: Mar 1

By Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Queen Elizabeth II

The role of our monarch is extensive, stressful, & time consuming, in an age where instant gratification & rapid, fast paced ways of life seem to be the status quo. However, in stark contrast to the faced paced life of London’s streets, not one thing about the role of the Queen is executed in a rapid & fast paced way. It often times takes days, weeks, or even months of planning to execute the many various engagements that Her Majesty must carry out every year.

Queen Elizabeth II wearing blue.

As well over 400 engagements keep Her Majesty continuously on the move both domestically & internationally each year, her responsibilities are not just composed of travel, investitures, receptions, & other various appointments. The role of our Head of State is just as diverse as the whole of Westminster, where The Queen must act in the capacity of not only Head of State*, but Head of the Nation*, where her role is complex & constitutional, while remaining politically neutral in a setting that is a never ending cycle of political warfare. The Queen’s role includes, but is not limited to her active duties with in the Government, the Church, the Armed Forces, Honours, Crown Dependencies, the Commonwealth, & the Monarchy itself. The embodiment of the state within the Queens person provides the nation with a figurehead that is not only dedicated in her duties, but has carried out her responsibilities to the nation without a blemish since 1952.

By SodacanThis W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Inkscape. [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0  (], from Wikimedia Commons
The Royal coats of arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as used by Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty is not one that is just ceremonial as many tend to think, but encompasses a wide spectrum of official duties, constitutional powers, & ceremonial responsibilities that make the Queens life anything but relaxing & trouble free. Her knowledge of our constitution, her unconscionable wealth of knowledge & experience in statesmanship, & the sheer devotion to uphold her oath of duty to her people, makes Her Majesty’s role seem easy & well rehearsed, when in all actuality the role of Her Majesty is not one that not many people would be able to do, nor would they have the stamina to do continuously even into her 90's. Her Majesty (the Sovereign in particular) is the ultimate authority in the United Kingdom & rules over the nation as well as parliament through the Royal Prerogative, which are powers that are used according to the laws enacted in Parliament or within the confines of precedent & convention. The precise extent of the royal prerogative has never formally been delineated, but it includes the following powers of Her Majesty (the Sovereign), among others:

  • The power to appoint & dismiss the Prime Minister

  • The power to appoint & dismiss other ministers.

  • The power to summon, prorogue & dissolve Parliament

  • The power to make war & peace

  • The power to command the armed forces of the United Kingdom

  • The power to regulate the Civil Service

  • The power to ratify treaties

  • The power to issue passports

  • The power to appoint bishops & archbishops of the Church of England

  • The power to create peers (both life peers & hereditary peers).

The most important prerogatives still personally exercised by the Sovereign are the choice of whom to appoint Prime Minister, and whether to grant dissolution of Parliament on the request of the Prime Minister. The most recent occasion the monarch has had to exercise these powers were in February 1974, when Prime Minister Edward Heath resigned after failing to secure an overall majority in Parliament. Queen Elizabeth II appointed Harold Wilson, leader of the Labour Party, as Prime Minister, exercising her prerogative after extensive consultation with the Privy Council. The Labour Party had the largest number of seats in the House of Commons, but not an overall majority.

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