It’s amazing how this article flew so far under the radar. I will never forget a conversation with my dad when I was a little kid in which I asked about the Queen of England. Something in my DNA even at a very young age was disturbed by the concept of royalty. I remember his answer like it was yesterday: “Michael, the Queen is largely just ceremonial, she has no real power.” I was probably nine years old or so when he told me that. I thought it was strange at the time and I never forgot his answer. It wasn’t his fault of course, that is what everyone is very intentionally taught to believe. Well, it turns out that little old lady with a crown on her head running around the bucolic fields of England has some power after all. Who would’ve thought! From the UK’s Guardian:
The extent of the Queen and Prince Charles’s secretive power of veto over new laws has been exposed after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret.
Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals’ little-known power to consent to or block new laws. They also reveal the power has been used to torpedo proposed legislation relating to decisions about the country going to war.
The internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood.
“This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role,” said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales’ hereditary estate.
“It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.”
Charles has been asked to consent to 20 pieces of legislation and this power of veto has been described by constitutional lawyers as a royal “nuclear deterrent” that may help explain why ministers appear to pay close attention to the views of senior royals.
The release of the papers comes amid growing concern in parliament at a lack of transparency over the royals’ role in lawmaking. George has set down a series of questions to ministers asking for a full list of bills that have been consented to by the Queen and Prince Charles and have been vetoed or amended.
The Guardian article goes on to show a wide range of bills that have required the consent of the Queen or the Prince of Wales. We are talking everything from agriculture, housing, education, identity cards, energy, to the European Union and much more. It’s 2013, perhaps it’s time to finally get rid of adults marching around in robes with staffs telling you what to do.
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