About Queen Elizabeth - incredible powers you didn't know of Queen Elizabeth
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Queen Elizabeth II is not like you and me.
Did you know she is immune from prosecution? That she has her own personal poet, paid in Sherry wine? Or that she holds dominion over British swans, and can fire the entire Australian government?
The Royal Prerogative are a set number of powers and privileges held by The Queen as part of the British constitution. Nowadays, a lot of these powers are exercised on Her Majesty’s behalf by ministers – things such as issuing or withdrawing passports that, without the Royal Prerogative, would require an act of parliament each time.
it's true that her role as the British Head of State is largely ceremonial, and the Monarch no longer holds any serious power from day to day. The historic "prerogative powers" of the Sovereign have been devolved largely to government ministers. But this still means that when the British government declares war, or regulates the civil service, or signs a treaty, they are doing so only on her authority.
And she still wields some of these prerogative powers herself - as well as number of other unique powers, ranging from the surprising to the utterly bizarre.
Victorian constitutionalist Walter Bagehot defined The Queen’s rights as, the right ‘to be consulted, to encourage and to warn’ – but these rights are not the same as her powers, as we will now see.
The Queen’s prerogative powers vary and fall into different categories…
The Queen’s political powers nowadays are largely ceremonial, though some are actively used by The Queen such as at General Elections or are available in times of crisis and some are used by Ministers for expediency when needed.
- Royal Assent – It is The Queen’s right and responsibility to grant assent to bills from Parliament, signing them into law. Whilst, in theory, she could decide to refuse assent, the last Monarch to do this was Queen Anne in 1708.
- Appoint/Remove Ministers – Her Majesty also has the power to appoint and remove Ministers of the Crown.
- Summoning/Proroguing Parliament – The Queen has the power to prorogue (suspend) and to summon (call back) Parliament – prorogation typically happens at the end of a parliamentary session, and the summoning occurs shortly after, when The Queen attends the State Opening of Parliament.
- Appointing the Prime Minister – The Queen is responsible for appointing the Prime Minister after a general election or a resignation, in a General Election The Queen will appoint the candidate who is likely to have the most support of the House of Commons. In the event of a resignation, The Queen listens to advice on who should be appointed as their successor.
- Freedom From Prosecution – Under British law, The Queen is above the law and cannot be prosecuted – she is also free from civil action.
- Declaration of War – The Sovereign retains the power to declare war against other nations, though in practice this is done by the Prime Minister and Parliament of the day.
The Queen’s judicial powers are now very minimal, and there is only really one which is used on a regular basis, with others having been delegated to judges and parliament through time.
- Royal Pardon – The Royal Pardon was originally used to retract death sentences against those wrongly convicted. It is now used to correct errors in sentencing and was recently used to give a posthumous pardon to WW2 codebreaker, Alan Turing.
The Queen’s powers in the Armed Forces are usually used on the advice of Generals and Parliament though some functions are retained by The Queen herself nowadays.
- Commander-in-Chief – The Queen is commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and all members swear an oath of allegiance to The Queen when they join; they are Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
- Disposition of the Forces – The organisation and disposition of the Armed Forces are part of the Royal Prerogative; the crown technically controls how the Armed Forces are used.
- Commissioning of Officers – The Queen’s powers include the commissioning of officers into the Armed Forces and also removing commissions (when members of the Armed Forces salute and officers, they are saluting The Queen’s commission).
One of the main prerogative powers that are still used personally by The Queen these days is the power to grant honours. As all honours derive from the Crown, The Queen has the final say on knighthoods, peerages and the like.
- Creation of Peerages – The Queen may create a peerage for any person – whether a life peerage or hereditary one, though hereditary peerages haven’t been issued for decades outside of the Royal Family.
- Font of Honour – It is The Queen’s prerogative power to create orders of knighthood and to grant any citizen honours. From the Royal Victorian Order to the Order of the Garter.
Other powers Her Majesty holds include:
- Control of Passports – The issuing and withdrawal of passports are within the Royal Prerogative – this is often used by ministers on behalf of The Queen. All British passports are issued in The Queen’s name.
- Requisitioning of Ships – This power allows a ship to be commandeered in Her Majesty’s name for service to the realm. This power was used on the QE2 to take troops to the Falklands after the Argentine invasion in 1982.
Most famously, she owns all swans in the River Thames.
Technically, all unmarked swans in open water belong to the Queen, although the Crown only "exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries,"
Today, this tradition is observed during the annual "Swan Upping," in which swans in the River Thames are caught, ringed, and set free again as part of census of the swan population.
It's a highly ceremonial affair, taking place over five days. "Swan uppers" wear traditional uniforms and row up-river in six skiffs accompanied by the Queen's Swan Marker.
"The swans are also given a health check and ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen's Swan Warden, a Professor of Ornithology at the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology," according to the Royal Family website.
The Sovereign also has dominion over all dolphins in British waters.
"Rule, Britannia, Britannia rules the waves," goes a classic British song - and this rule extends beneath the waves too. The sovereign has dominion over a variety of aquatic animals in British waters.
Other privileges Quick Review
- The Queen needs no license to drive.
- She needs no passport either.
She gets to celebrate two birthdays!
According to the Royal Mint , t he Queen's official birthday is celebrated on a Saturday in June, although her actual birthday is on April 21st. An official birthday has been a thing for the Royal family since the very beginning.
Ever heard of a private poet? Well, she has one.
The role is currently held by Carol Ann Duffy. According to the official website of the British Monarch, this honorary position is given to a poet whose work is of national significance. Carol will hold the position till 2019. Here's more if you wish to read up.
She also has a private cash machine.
Installed in the basement of the Buckingham Palace, provided by Coutts (one of Britain's most exclusive banks), this one is a special perk for the queen and her royal family.A private ATM! Awesome, right?
- She owns all the swans in the River Thames.
- And all the dolphins in British waters belong to her too.
- Without her consent, no bill can be passed to form a law.
- She has the power to appoint Lords and Knights.
She can opt out from paying tax.
But she doesn't. She voluntarily began paying her share in 1992.
- Her family (and she) have been spared from all Freedom of Information requests!
- In times of "grave constitutional crisis", the Queen has the power to VETO any ministerial advice/opinion.
- And under no "grave constitutional crisis" the Queen has the right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn her ministers.
She's also the Queen of Australia.
This is since the enactment of the Royal Styles and Titles Act in 1953.
Apart from being the Head of State of UK and Australia, she's also dominion to all these commonwealth realms:
Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
She's also the head of the Church of England under her formal title " Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England " .
Sounds like a fancy title picked from Game Of Thrones , don't you think?
Here's the most epic one of them all. She can fire the entire Australian Government!
Here's how it works. T he Prime Minister of Australia is appointed by the governor-genera l. The queen could instruct her representative to appoint a new PM at any time. She can appoint a new governor-genera l too, if he does not comply.