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Crowned Heads in a Republican Age The British Monarchy in the Contemporary World.

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Presentation on theme: "Crowned Heads in a Republican Age The British Monarchy in the Contemporary World."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crowned Heads in a Republican Age The British Monarchy in the Contemporary World

2 Significant Dates in the Evolution of the British Monarchy 1066 – Norman Invasion (no “English” king since) 1215 – Magna Carta (Ruler is not above the law) 1284 – Conquest of Wales by Edward I (Union in 1536 by Henry VIII) 1534 – Act of Supremacy 1603 – Union of the Crown 1642 – 1649 – English Civil Wars

3 Significant Dates (continued) 1688/9 – Glorious Revolution and Bill of Rights 1701 – Act of Settlement 1707 – Act of Union 1800/1 – Union of Great Britain and Ireland 1832 – Great Reform Act 1911 – Parliament Act 1921 – Irish Free State (Republic in 1949) 1931 – Statute of Westminster

4 And yet more dates … 1947 – Independence of India 1973 – U.K. joins E.E.C. 1993 – Treaty of Maastricht 1997 – Scotland and Wales (Devolution) Acts 1999 – House of Lords Act

5 Key Points about Modern Monarchy The crown is the oldest secular institution in the country; it unites the four nations of the United Kingdom The British Constitution is unwritten There is no separation of powers; the crown coordinates judicial, legislative, and executive The people are NOT sovereign; the crown in parliament (monarchy working through parliament) is

6 The Queen reigns but does not rule The person of the ruler is the living symbol of the crown, but the Queen can only act on the advice of ministers, namely the government of the day led by the Prime Minister. She gives her consent to bills prepared by her ministers (last veto by ruler in 1708).

7 Yet the queen’s symbolic power is real. Executive functions are discharged in the Queen’s name; oaths of loyalty are sworn to “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her heirs and successors according to law.” The monarchy is element of continuity (David Cameron is her 13 th Prime Minister; Obama, the 11 th president she’s worked with). She is the most widely traveled person in human history.

8 The Royal Prerogative Appointment and dismissal of ministers; Dissolution of parliament and calling elections; Clemency and pardon; Award of dignities and honours; Declaration of war; Declaration of emergency; Grant of Charters of Incorporation; Collection of tolls; Minting of coinage; Issue and revocation of passports; Creation of new universities; Appointment of bishops and archbishops in C of E; Publication of all statutes, legislative instruments, and Orders-in-Council; Appointment of Royal Commissions and Officers Exercise of jurisdiction over Royal foundations.

9 Legislative Powers

10 Parliament House of Lords consists of 26 Lords Spiritual and c. 700 Lords Temporal – 92 Hereditaries, 595 Life Peers, 12 Law Lords House of Commons consists of 646 M.P.s who serve for terms of 5 years. Franchise belongs to citizens over 18 except for royals, peers, criminals, and insane.

11 Executive Powers

12 Although the Privy Council consisting of senior politicians from all parties is theoretically the apex of the executive (it appoints ambassadors, receives ambassadors, issues declarations of war), the real business of government is Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom conducted by the Prime Minister and the rest of his cabinet. The PM must be an MP and the leader of the largest party in the H of C; he chooses the cabinet from other MPs (the Queen appoints them all).

13 Judicial Powers

14 The House of Lords is the highest court in the U.K.; the Lord Chancellor presides over its cases. Lord Chancellor is chief judge, speaker of H of L, and member of cabinet. Three different legal systems operate in the U.K. English Law, Scots Law, and European Law

15 The Future of the Monarchy Republican criticisms of the monarchy divide into two types, moral and political. Moral: Hereditary monarchy is anti-democratic, un- egalitarian, and racist. Political: Crown’s influence is not neutral; in case of hung parliament has huge reserve powers.

16 Monarchy in the European Union European Communities Act of 1972 makes decisions of the European Court of Justice above those of English and Scottish courts. This problematizes the constitutional theory that the Crown is the fount of justice. European Treaty of Maastricht of 1993 created a common European citizenship that places Her Majesty the Queen upon the same footing as her own subjects.


18 Rule Britannia?


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