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The role and powers of the monarch in the UK

Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult. Napoleon Bonaparte

Monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom. In a monarchy, a king or queen is Head of State. The British monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. This means that, while The Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament. Although the British Sovereign no longer has a political or executive role, he or she continues to play an important part in the life of the nation. As Head of State, The Monarch undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. In addition to these State duties, The Monarch has a less formal role as 'Head of Nation'. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service. In all these roles The Sovereign is supported by members of their immediate family.

Royal power and royal duties changed and declined over the centuries. The result today is that, while Queen Elizabeth is sovereign over her nation, Parliament holds the real power. The Queen can suggest or advice, but the days of the British monarch telling Parliament what it will and will not pass are long over. The Queen also opens the session of Parliament every year, and makes a speech setting forth her governments objectives for the coming year. One of the most obvious duties of the British monarch is walkabout. Walkabout is the name for the tours, openings and appearances Queen Elizabeth makes all over her country, and anywhere she visits. The Queen often shakes hands with her subjects, accepts bouquets and gifts and generally presents a public, charitable face, whereby her subjects can see her. Walkabout has greatly increased the popularity of the British monarch. The British monarch also visits other heads of state and/or government, and is her countrys public relations person. Queen Elizabeths visits help set the tone for relations between governments. She attends State dinners in her own and other countries, and Buckingham Palace is the site of most state functions. The British monarch is more of a figurehead these days, but he or she can help nudge the country in various directions and thus, is still a major player in Government. The theoretical powers of the monarch include: The formal rights of the monarch The monarch appoints the Prime Minister and all the other ministries. The monarch is the head of the church. The monarch has the right to veto any bill passed by the parliament.

Opening Parliament with the Queens Speech. The monarch had the right to give mercy to criminals and in general is considered to be the head of the Legal System of Britain.

The real state Prime Minister is the head of the majority party which won the election and it is he who appoints all the ministries. The church is governed by a number of bishops and archbishops. The monarchs have not used the right of veto since 1707 and the royal assent is automatically given to all the bills passed by the Parliament. This is written by the Prime Minister and his or her team and outlines what Government intends to do in the forthcoming session of Parliament. She gives mercy on the advice of the law lords who sit in the House of Lords and it is possible to say that there is no actual head of the Legal System in Britain.

In conclusion I can mention that the British monarch is an important figure for the land that represents it and its people, but he is only a formal one. The real power of the land is the Government, he who governs the land.

Wrote by: Ciobanu Elena, gr. 252L