We all know that the Queen cannot withhold consent to a bill just because she doesn't like it. But can she change a law secretly, in her own interest, even before it is presented to parliament?
The answer is yes, and finally we havedocumented evidencetent.
The queen, politics and secrecy
There is a queen mythnever get involvedin political matters. In the public eye, all he does is act on ministerial advice, signing his name or initialing where necessary.
But she always did more than that. She wields ample soft power, influencing government policy and draft laws before they are presented to parliament. Their power is wielded behind closed doors and is all the more potent for that.
Due to secrecy laws, it is extremely difficult to find documentary evidence of the Queen's exercise of influence. In the United Kingdom, government documents that "list" communications with the Sovereign or the next two people in line to the throne, as well as Palace officials acting on her behalf, are subject to aabsolute exemptionrelease under freedom of information or government records.
This exemption lasts until at least five years after the death of the relevant member of the royal family, meaning we cannot access British government documents about the Queen's political role, including in relation to Australia.
New documents discovered
But The Guardian didexposea chink in this armor of secrecy.
In the UK's National Archives, he discovered documents from 1973 showing that the Queen's personal lawyer lobbied public servants to change a proposed law so that it would not allow companies or the public to learn of the Queen's actions in Grã Bretanha.
The tactic was successful, and the bill was amended to suit the Queen's wishes.
Perhaps these documents escaped the secret embargo because they involved communications with a private lawyer rather than palace officials. Or perhaps the eyes of the person looking over the file were clouded due to the boring nature of the bill and the reference to the queen was missed.
Either way, it's a rare glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes.
The procedure involved is known as “queen's consent”. This is different from “royal consent”, which takes place after both houses of parliament have passed a bill. "Queen's Consent" takes place at a much earlier stage, usually well before a bill is tabled in parliament.
The Queen's consent is required when a bill would affect governmental powers formally vested in the Queen (such as the powers to make treaties, declare war, dissolve parliament or grant clemency), matters that directly affect the monarchy (such as the succession of the Crown , royal marriages and royal titles), and the Queen's and her heir's property and income interests held by the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall.
Interestingly, it also seems to extend to bills that affect the Queen's private property and financial interests, although there seems to be no clear reason for this.
Any bill affecting these royal interests must be sent to the Queen and her private lawyers at least two weeks before it is presented to Parliament. Lawyers advise on the potential impact of the bill before the Queen gives her consent.
A bill cannot pass through parliament without such consent. This became an issue during thebattle for brexit.
Acting on ministerial advice... and influencing that advice
the palace hasconsistently statedthe queen acts on ministerial advice in granting or withholding the queen's consent. While this may be the case, it would make no sense for you to pay for the advice of your personal lawyers unless you intend to use your soft power to persuade the government to make changes to a bill when it is in your best interest to do so.
One would imagine that this would normally happen via a quiet word during the Queen's weekly audience with the Prime Minister. No records are kept of these meetings, which are kept strictly confidential. Any instructions to make changes to a proposed bill would come from the prime minister before it was presented to parliament and could not be traced back to the queen.
Documents discovered by The Guardian, however, show an alternative and more direct exercise of power. In 1973, the Queen's personal solicitor met with public officials to ask them to change a proposed Companies Act to ensure that the Queen's actions were not exposed.
Interestingly, public officials agreed to the meeting and tried to find ways to meet the Queen's wishes even before seeking ministerial approval. There seemed to be an expectation that public servants would comply with her wishes. Furthermore, there seemed to be no shock or surprise that his lawyers would intervene in this way.
Different interpretations of the role of the queen
In 2014, a British parliamentary committeeconcludedtive
there is no evidence to suggest that legislation is changed as part of the consent process.
This demonstrates how effective secrecy provisions have been in keeping public and underground politicians in the dark about how the constitutional system really works. However, ministers seem to know better.
In 2012, the then British Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, issued acertificatedeny access to letters from Prince Charles that put pressure on ministers. Grieve claimed that lobbying ministers and "exhorting opinions about them" was part of Prince Charles' preparation for royalty, as he "would have the right (and indeed possibly the duty) to make [such representations] as monarch".
If so, the Queen plays a far more active role politically than is publicly known in the UK or Australia.
Relevance to Australia and New Zealand
Although the Queen has little say in Australian affairs, laws are occasionally passed that affect her. In such cases, the palace insists that consent must be given first, although there is no formal parliamentary procedure, as in the UK.
An example was the approval, in 1986, of theAustralian laws, which were identical British and Australian laws that severed residual constitutional links between the UK and Australia.
one of the sectionshe arranged for the Queen to be directly advised by the Prime Ministers of the state regarding state affairs. The queen objected. Her private secretary has expressed concern that he may be subject to "crazy advice”.
To secure the Queen's consent to the bill's introduction, extensive negotiations took place. Changes to the form of the section were made and a convention was agreed on how it would work. Even so, the Queen only gave her consent after all Australian governments insisted on it.
An example from New Zealand concerns a proposed change in 1973 to the royal style and titles of queen in relation to New Zealand. The government wanted the Queen to give her personal assent to the legislation when she visited New Zealand. Her private secretary replied by telex:
As far as I can find out, the Queen has not yet been asked to give her consent to the New Zealand Style and Titles Bill. It is... something she would appreciate in principle, but her approval must be sought both for the introduction of the bill and for the exact wording of the proposed new style and title.
In practice, the Queen's role in relation to her realms such as Australia and New Zealand now largely involves the appointment and removal of the Governor-General and other ceremonial or symbolic acts. In executing them, she acts in accordance with ministerial advice.
But it maintains a degree of control through a system that requires “informal” advice to be provided first, and formal advice to be provided only after informal advice is approved.
This means that the queen can always say that she has not rejected formal advice from her ministers in the realms, even if she has rejected informal advice or at least negotiated changes before they were formally given.
As with the Queen's consent, the power of influence is exercised at an early stage, in secret, so that no formal or public act of refusal is ever seen.
Like the best of magicians, the queen's magic keeps the royal action out of public view, while maintaining the appearance of doing nothing. These latter documents, like the one recently publishedCards from the Palace of Kerr, they indicate that there is a lot behind the scenes that has not yet been revealed.
ana dosmey, Professor of Constitutional Law,sydney university
This article is republished fromThe conversationunder a Creative Commons license. read theOriginal article.
How much influence does the Queen have in Australia? ›
The monarch appoints the governor-general and the governors, on the advice of the respective State and Federal executive governments. These are now almost the only constitutional functions of the monarch with regard to Australia.What influence does the UK have on Australia? ›
The British Union Jack features predominantly on our national flag and the Queen is Australia's Head of State. British models also form the basis of Australia's legal and political systems, as well providing our national language. Up until World War II, Britain remained the dominating cultural influence in Australia.What influence does the Queen of England have? ›
The monarch also retains prerogative powers — powers specifically reserved for the sovereign — including the power to appoint a new prime minister, dissolve Parliament and give royal assent to bills.What control does the UK have over Australia? ›
The monarch of the UK is still the head of state of Australia and 'rules' through a governor-general.Does the Queen of England have power in Australia? ›
However, Australia is a constitutional monarchy, so the Queen shares power with the government of the day under a written constitution. This means The Queen is not involved in the day-to-day workings of the federal or state governments in Australia, and acts upon the advice of Australian Ministers.Does the royal family have power in Australia? ›
These include giving Royal Assent to laws passed by the Australian Parliament and starting the process for a federal election. While these powers are exercised by the Governor-General, in reality this is normally done on the advice of the Prime Minister and ministers.How much does Australia pay the Queen? ›
The Queen receives a yearly sum through what is known as the Sovereign Grant , which is equivalent to £1.29 per person in the UK. In Aussie dollars, that's around $2.23 per person, which last financial year amounted to a whopping $148 million.What is Australia influenced by? ›
While strongly influenced by Anglo-Celtic origins, the culture of Australia has also been shaped by multi-ethnic migration which has influenced all aspects of Australian life, including business, the arts, cuisine, sense of humor and sporting tastes.Does Australia pay tax to the Queen? ›
The simple answer is No. Australia does not pay a cent for the maintenance or security of the Sovereign.Why is queen Elizabeth so influential? ›
Extremely popular for nearly all of her long reign, the queen was known for taking a serious interest in government and political affairs, apart from her ceremonial duties, and was credited with modernizing many aspects of the monarchy.
How did queen Elizabeth influence the world? ›
She presided at official ceremonies, hosted world leaders and traveled in support of the British government. Having a job for 70 years means you have seen a lot of world leaders come and go. The first British prime minister she worked with was Winston Churchill, who had governed the nation through World War II.Why is the Queen of England most powerful? ›
She has sovereign immunity, and therefore cannot be prosecuted. Dismiss a prime minister. While she can't vote or state her political opinions publicly, the Queen serves as an overarching figure to the British government.Does England still control Australia? ›
The final constitutional ties between the United Kingdom and Australia ended in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act 1986. Formal economic relations between the two countries declined following Britain's accession to the European Economic Community in 1973.Can the Queen overrule the prime minister? ›
The monarch remains constitutionally empowered to exercise the royal prerogative against the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet, but in practice would likely only do so in emergencies or where existing precedent does not adequately apply to the circumstances in question.Why does Australia have the Queen on their money? ›
Her portrait has been represented in every Australian banknote series since her coronation, reflecting Australia's constitutional monarchy.What happens in Australia if the Queen of England dies? ›
Legally, there does not need to be anything done in Australia to result in the change from queen to king. That happens automatically as soon as a monarch dies. When Queen Elizabeth II died, Charles immediately became king of Australia.Does the Queen legally own Australia? ›
Despite the belief held by many Australian landholders that they own their land absolutely, including anything above or below it, due to the Doctrine of Tenure, the law in Australia holds that the Crown has absolute ownership - not withstanding any native title claims.Does the Queen have power over the commonwealth? ›
The King is Sovereign of 14 Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK. His Majesty is also Head of the Commonwealth itself, a voluntary association of 56 independent countries. This is an important symbolic and unifying role.Does Queen Elizabeth have control over Canada? ›
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was the first of Canada's sovereigns to be proclaimed separately as "Queen of Canada." It reaffirmed the Monarch's role as independent of that as Monarch of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.Why do Australians support the monarchy? ›
Before Australia was a nation, it was a collection of British colonies. Each had its own written constitution, parliament and laws. When these colonies joined together to form Australia, a constitutional monarchy system of government was chosen for the new country very similar to those of the colonies.
Is Canada still under British rule? ›
Queen Elizabeth II gave royal assent to the Canada Act on March 29, 115 years to the day after Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother, had approved the federation act of 1867. Thus the last legal tie with Great Britain was severed, and Canada became a fully sovereign state.Does the Queen own land in America? ›
As one might imagine, the monarchy held properties around the globe. A lesser-known holding was in Bolivar County, Mississippi. As of 1968, the Queen through investment in the British textile company Courtaulds owned an interest in a 38,000-acre cotton plantation in Mississippi.Which countries pay the Queen? ›
The Queen's image can be found on the currency of more than 15 countries, the most populated being the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This list includes Bermuda, St. Lucia and Montserrat, along with other Caribbean nations that use the Eastern Caribbean dollar.What are the two main cultural influences on Australia? ›
The culture of Australia is a Western culture derived primarily from Britain but also influenced by the unique geography of the Australian continent, the diverse input of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other Oceania people.Why Australia is so important? ›
Australia is an important exporter of agricultural goods like wool, wheat, beef, fruit, and wine. The country is also rich in minerals and metals and is the world's fourth largest producer of gold.Why is Australia important to America? ›
Australia is a vital ally, partner, and friend of the United States. Our two countries maintain a robust relationship underpinned by shared democratic values, common interests, and cultural affinities. Economic, academic, and people-to-people ties are vibrant and strong.Does Harry get money from the Queen? ›
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan no longer receive money from the Royal Family, and earn their income from commercial arrangements.How much does Canada pay the Queen? ›
That's approximately $1.55 per Canadian a year – slightly below the nearly $2.10 the Crown costs each citizen of the U.K.Does Canada give money to the Queen? ›
What do Canadians pay to the Crown? Each Canadian pays approximately $1.55 to the Crown, totalling almost $59 million annually. These fees go to the Governor General, who not only represents the Queen but also carries out the parliamentary duties of the sovereign in their absence.How much power does the Queen of England have? ›
As nominal leader of the United Kingdom from 1952 to 2022—the country's longest-serving monarch—she exerted influence felt the world over. But despite such enormous impact, the Queen held no real power in British government—and nor does her successor, King Charles III.
What good things has Queen Elizabeth done? ›
- HER SERVICE IN WORLD WAR II.
- THE STABILITY SHE BROUGHT.
- TRANSFORMATION TO A COMMONWEALTH.
- SHE MODERNIZED THE MONARCHY.
- SHE MADE THE SUCCESSION MORE EQUITABLE.
- SHE WAS THE FIRST BRITISH MONARCH TO ADDRESS CONGRESS.
- HER VISIT TO THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND IN 2011.
A constitutional monarchy and the King's role
In a monarchy, the king or queen is the head of state. However, as the UK has a constitutional monarchy, the ability to make and pass legislation belongs to Parliament rather than the King. The monarch retains a symbolic role in government.
The Queen is the only person to declare war and peace. This dates back from when the Monarch was responsible for raising, maintaining and equipping the Army and Navy. Today, this power can only be exercised on the advice of Ministers.Which queen is the most powerful? ›
As one of the longest-reigning monarchs of all time, Queen Elizabeth does of course hold a huge amount of power within the family and is undoubtedly the most powerful family member at this moment in time.Is Australia still under the Queen? ›
Only in 1901 did the British colonies in the area hold a referendum to federate under the nationalist banner. However, it continued to be a part of the British Commonwealth and recognized the British queen as its head of state—a structure that is still in place today.Is the Queen still head of state in Australia? ›
As at 2022, the government website states: "The Australian head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II".Is Australia fully independent from Britain? ›
The Australia Act 1986 (Commonwealth) was the final step in Australia's constitutional independence from Britain. This Act and the 6 similar Acts passed by the state parliaments, made all Australian law independent of the British Parliament and legal system.Will Britain ever abolish the monarchy? ›
Republicanism isn't a strong force in Britain at the moment, which makes the abolition of the monarchy unlikely for the foreseeable future. But that could change if the institution does, or if it fails to attract the support of the younger British population.Can the Queen refuse? ›
Even in nations such as the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein and Monaco which still, in theory, permit their monarch to withhold assent to laws, the monarch almost never does so, except in a dire political emergency or on advice of government.Can the Queen declare war without Parliament? ›
Constitutional convention requires that the declaration of war or commitment of British armed forces is authorised by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Crown. Parliament has no official constitutional role in the process.
What benefits did the British Empire bring to Australia? ›
Not only was Britain the overwhelming source of the capital needed to develop Australia's economy, but Britain's industrialisation stimulated demand for Australian agricultural products.What impact did British Colonisation have on Australia? ›
Colonisation has resulted in inequity, racism and the disruption of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. In fact, it has been the most detrimental of the determinants of health that continues to significantly influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes today.Why do Brits love Australia? ›
Many people see it as a dream to travel and settle in a foreign country. Britons love the outdoors, sun, and sense of space. Australians like the history, adventure, and proximity to Europe. While a large portion of migrants settle down in their new country, not everyone does.Why do British people love Australia? ›
Many UK citizens see Australia's employment opportunities, lifestyle and climate more favourably. Due to the colonial history between the two countries, many also find the culture to be very compatible with their own.What is Australia's relationship to England? ›
Australia and the UK have a significant and comprehensive relationship underpinned by our shared heritage, common values, strong people-to-people links, closely aligned strategic outlook and interests and substantial trade and investment links.
Britain in the Nineteenth Century was the largest international creditor and in 1913 some 40% of all foreign investment was British. Most of this would have gone to the USA, the Dominions and Argentina, but India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and African states benefited.Why is Australia's economy so strong? ›
Australia's economic prosperity is built on strong foundations: good governance, open markets and the rule of law. Australia consistently ranks highly in global indexes as a desirable destination to live, work, study and invest.How did the British treat the indigenous peoples of Australia? ›
The English settlers and their descendants expropriated native land and removed the indigenous people by cutting them from their food resources, and engaged in genocidal massacres.What are the two impacts British settlement had on the Australia environment? ›
They trampled and overgrazed fragile native vegetation, which led to soil erosion and degradation. Europeans cleared the land for farming and removed deep-rooted trees, which led to a change in the water table and climate.Why are so many Brits leaving Australia? ›
Chief among the reasons why the British are leaving include missing friends and family, and lacking a real sense of belonging, says Prof Roger Burrows, a sociologist from the University of York who has studied the phenomenon.
Is Australian English more like British or American? ›
Australian English is most similar to British English in spelling and sentence construction, although its accent and vocabulary are very distinct from the UK.Why do Australians sound more British? ›
Early European settlers to Australia — many of whom were convicts — were from all over Great Britain and Ireland, and their speech patterns blended to form the new Australian accent.How do Aussies feel about Brits? ›
Despite cheerful jabs about Poms and criminals, Australian-British relations are usually considered pretty affectionate.Do Australians like the British accent? ›
You know when Colin heads off to the U.S. to get laid in Love Actually? You might want to change that plan a little and head to Australia. A new survey suggests that the accent Australian people find the hottest is – you guessed it – British. Hooray.Is Australia controlled by Britain? ›
The Australia Act 1986 (Commonwealth) was the final step in Australia's constitutional independence from Britain. This Act and the 6 similar Acts passed by the state parliaments, made all Australian law independent of the British Parliament and legal system.