British Monarchy


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1. British Monarchy: the role of the queen in modern society, the royal prerogatives and functions, the royal family, the main sources of income, principal ceremonials connected with royalty, royal residences, the perception of monarchy in society

The Monarchy is called the dignified part of the Constitution as opposed to the efficient part – the executive (the Government). Under the British Constitution the Monarch remains the head of state which effectively means that British people are not citizens but Her Majesty’s subjects.

The Royal Prerogatives – an action of the Government that gets its legitimacy from the crown (there are certain actions that the Government performs, they are ultimately approved by the Queen.) It is a fiction because the Queen is advised on most of her actions by her Government.

1: to appoint the PM at the end of the election (normally the leader of the party that has the majority in the HC)

2: to summon, prorogue (объявлять перерыв) and dissolve the Parliament.

3: enact legislation (вводить законопроекты); to give her Royal Assent to bills when they’ve been passed by both Houses.

4: declares war / makes peace

5: recognizes foreign states and governments

6: concludes treaties

7: annexes / cedes territories

8: head of judiciary = all the courts of the land are the Queen’s Courts – all the trials carried out in the Queen’s name (Regina vs. Jones)

9: Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces

10: temporal governor of the Church of England

11: makes formal appointments to the most important offices of the state in the Armed Forces and churches

12: confers peerages, knighthoods and other honours

13: formal approval to decisions of the Government is given at the meetings of the Privy Council

14: the Queen of 16 former colonies, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, represented by the governor. The Head of the Commonwealth (16 + some more other countries)

Constitutional role of the Queen (monarch) was first explicitly formulated by the 19 cent writer and journalist Walter Bagehot (the English Constitution 1867). Famous triple formula: the Queen has the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn.

Every day studies cabinet papers, foreign office documents, receives a report of the parliamentary proceedings, regularly sees the PM in audience, in constant touch with foreign ambassadors and the Commonwealth representatives.

Important symbolic role: the unity of the nation, historical traditions and continuity. Defender of the Faith – only Anglicans can succeed to the throne. Spiritual head of state, the archbishop of Canterbury crowns the monarch.

2 archbishops (Canterbury and York) and 24 bishops, deans of Cathedrals (appointed by the Queen, advised by the PM). The Queen has ecclesiastic household – the College of Chaplains, the Chaplains and organists of the Chapels Royal at the Tower of London, St. James Palace and Hampton Court. The Royal Peculiars – not subjects to the jurisdiction of archbishops, they are monarch’s.

A number of special royal occasions, taking place regularly each year: the state opening of the Parliament – October, November (unless there has been general election). The Queen rides in a state carriage from Buckingham palace to the palace of Westminster (HL), reads her speech from the throne, wears a crown, speech prepared by the governor. The Remembrance day – in November, service in the White Hall for the dead of the 2WW, lays a wreath at the Cenotaph. June – goes to the Derby at Epsom, later in June at Windsor for the Royal Ascot. Second Saturday of June – official birthday. The Trooping of he Colour, Horse Guards Parade, birth honours are given. In summer 3 garden parties are given in the grounds of Buckingham palace – all people – each attended by ~ 8,000 people of different walks of life; tea, cakes, brass band.

The royal household – 350 courtiers, Private Secretary, ladies-in-waiting, the Mistress of the Robes, Ladies (Gentlemen) of the Bedchamber.

The Finance. More than ¾ of the Queen’s expenses is met by relevant government debts. £15,3mln – palaces (3 official residences – Buckingham palace in London, Holyrood palace in Edinburgh, Windsor castle). The Civil List – money provided by the Government and often by the Parliament, on a 10-year basis for the running of the Queen’s household. 2001-2011 – £7,9mln. Besides the Queen receives an income – the Duchy of Lancaster (the crown estate > 19,000 hectares) – annual income £7,3mln before tax.

The Duke of Edinburgh (husband), children (Princess Royal Ann, Prince Andrew, Edward) – receive annuities, but the Queen refunds all except the husband, he’s the only who receives strictly. The Queen pays for her children, they live at her expense. Prince Charles – the Heir to the Throne; Duchy of Cornwall – income, in 2003 ~ £10mln - ~ ¼ income tax. The Queen offered to pay tax on voluntary basis – decides how much to pay, on her private income, e.g. on part of the Civil List used for private purposes (e.g. banquet for friends). Others pay income tax on regular basis like ordinary citizens.

The Civil List is administrated by the so-called Keeper of the Privy Purse.

Private Royal residences. Sandringham (East Anglia), Balmoral (Scotland), Clarence House (Queen Mother resided), St. James’s Palace (Prince Charles, the minor royals), Kensington Palace (Diana). Grace and favour apartments, free of charge.

The Royal Family. The Queen’s husband – Philip the Duke of Edinburgh (1921) – famous for his quips. Princess Royal Ann, daughter. The Prince of Wales (1948), Heir to the Throne – Heir Apparent. Prince William (21 now) – Heir Presumptive, Prince Henry (1984). Prince Andrew (1960) – the Duke of York, Prince Edward (1964) – the Earl of Wessex.

The perception of monarchy in society – it has its symbolic role, unity, continuity, but young people are far from it, the general attitude – not interested, attracts tourists.

2. The national symbols of Britain and its constituent parts (the National flag, anthem, the national emblems, the Royal Beasts). The system of titles and honours

The National Flag – the Union Jack. Combination of three crosses – St. George’s cross – England, red cross on a white ground; the cross of St. Andrew for Scotland – white diagonal cross on a blue ground; the cross of St. Patrick for Ireland – red diagonal on a white ground. First introduced in 1606, had 2 crosses, union of England and Scotland (James I), 1801 – St. Patrick added.

National Emblems. Rose for England, thistle for Scotland, daffodil (leek) for Wales, shamrock (wild sorrel, red hand) for Ireland. Crown, scepter, sword of state, orb.

Monogram ER – Elizabeth Royal. In the centre of the emblem is situated a heraldic shield, divided into 4 parts. Left upper part & right lower part symbolize England (3 gold leopards on a red ground). Right upper part – Scottish emblem (a red lion on a gold ground). Left lower part – Irish emblem (yellow harp on a blue ground). Around the shield – garter. The shield is held by two Royal Beasts the Lion with the crown in the left, the Unicorn in the right. Under them a blue ribbon with words “Dieu et mon droit” (God & my right) – Richard I. In the background – rose (England), thistle (Scotland), trefoil (Ireland), leek (Wales).

The National Anthem – God Save the Queen (King). Adopted after the War with Napoleon.

The Royal Beasts. The Lion of England, the Unicorn of Scotland, the Red Dragon of Wales, the Grey Hound of Richmond, the White Horse of Hanover, the Griffin of Edward III, the Falcon of the Plantagenets.

The system of titles and honours. Twice a year (at the New Year and on the Queen’s official birthday – the Queen’s birthday honours) – solemn ceremony. 3000 honours are given annually – the majority the Order of the British Empire, most on PM’s advice, a few in the Queen’s personal gift.

The Order of the Garter (since Edward III 14th cent.) – 24 people at once, the Queen is a sovereign of the Order of the Garter, blue ribbon, Prince Charles, + foreign, e.g. the King of Spain. The Order of the Thistle – 16 knights, green ribbon. The Order of Merit (1902) – 24 people. Royal Victorian Order (1896) – who have directly served the Royal Family. The Order of the Bath (1725) – ceremonial ablutions, crimson ribbon. The Order of the British Empire: 5 degrees – member of the British Empire (MBE), officer (OBE), commander (CBE), knight commander (KBE) or dame commander (DBE), knight/dame grand cross (GBE). Lists are made by members of the public. Remain commoners, no special privileges, titles are not hereditary. Highest honour – peerage, historically hereditary, and since 1959 life peerage.

The 5 grades – Duke / Duchess (Your Grace), Marquis / Marchioness (My Lord), Earl / Countess (-“-), Viscount / Viscountess, Baron / Baroness. Connected with person’s occupation. On formal dresses – strawberry leaves, a coronet consisting of 8 strawberry leaves, 4 silver falls and 4 strawberry leaves for a marquis. Peers can disclaim their title, to get the right to sit in the HC – the title falls into abeyance, means title waits until this person dies and his son accepts it. The elder sons of peers have courtesy title, one degree lower than their fathers’. Duke can deprive his son inheritance, but no right to deprive of the title.

Elections in Britain

Members of the House of Commons (MPs) are elected by voters of 651 parliamentary constituencies, into which Britain is divided, each with electorate of about 60,000 voters. Each person over 18 has the right to vote, except prisoners, lords and the mentally ill. The voting is taken by a secret ballot. Each constituency is represented by one MP. The winner is the candidate who gets more votes than any other single candidate. The leader of the party with most seats usually becomes the PM and forms the Government, which can remain in power for up to five years. The second biggest party becomes the official Opposition, and its leader forms the Shadow Cabinet. The PM chooses the date of the next General Election. About a month before the election the PM meets a small group of close advisers to discuss the date. Then the PM formally asks the Queen to dissolve the Parliament – all MPs become unemployed, but government officers continue to function. . Voting takes place on Polling Day (usually a Thursday), the results are known by the next morning. The leader of the party that got the majority is invited by the Queen to form a government. The government is arranged in about 15 departments each with a minister as its head. The PM chooses about 20 MPs from his or her party to become the Cabinet of Ministers.

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