Is there a official work relationship between the Queen and the British PM?
November 16, 2005 9:37 PM   Subscribe

Just wondering: is there any official situation where the British Prime Minister and the Queen must meet and/or relate in some manner? I know the heads of state/gov't are supposed to be independent, just wondering if there is a protocol for such things.
posted by falameufilho to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Well if it's analogous to the Canadian government (and it's supposed to be...or rather the Canadian government is supposed to be analogous to the British), then the PM writes the speech from the throne, which is read by the Queen. Presumably this involves some interaction.
posted by duck at 9:39 PM on November 16, 2005

The opening of Parliament, for one.
posted by pompomtom at 9:39 PM on November 16, 2005

From wikipedia:

In theory, the Queen is an essential part of the legislative process of her Realms. The Queen-in-Parliament (the Queen, acting with the advice and consent of Parliament), in each country, is an integral part of Parliament, along with the upper and lower houses. In practice, however, the Queen's role in the legislative process is in all forseeable circumstances entirely ceremonial. The Queen may legally grant or withhold Royal Assent to Bills, but no monarch has refused his or her assent to a Bill since 1708. The Queen, or her Governors-General in the realms outside the United Kingdom, also gives a speech at the annual State Opening of Parliament, outlining the government's legislative agenda for the year, but the speech is written by ministers.

The Queen also has a functional role in executive government. Constitutionally she chooses her prime minister (though in reality no actual choice is required as the issue of whom to ask to form a government is clear from who controls the House of Commons, except in exceptional circumstances). She also decides the basis on which a person is asked to form a government. That is, whether a government should be formed capable of surviving in the House of Commons - the standard requirement - or capable of commanding majority support in the House of Commons - i.e., a requirement to form a coalition if no one party has a majority. This requirement was last set in 1940, leading to the formation of the National Government of Winston Churchill. This request is normally only made in emergencies or in war-time. The Queen also appoints ministers and all government is carried out legally in her name.

Orders-in-Council are issued only when approved by her at Privy Council meetings. She has access to all government minutes and documentation, and has a weekly meeting with the Prime Minister when parliament is in session. She also signs executive order, financial and treasury papers, with her signature required on all major financial transactions of state (countersigned by the relevant minister). The role of Commander-in-Chief is held in each realm either by the Queen or by her Governor-General as her representative.

Weekly status meetings, probably as productive as mine!
posted by loquax at 10:03 PM on November 16, 2005

Also see here.

The British Royal Family's official URL is!? How cool is that?
posted by Opposite George at 10:13 PM on November 16, 2005

is there any official situation where the British Prime Minister and the Queen must meet and/or relate in some manner?

Two key situations, top-and-tailing British government: when the monarch asks someone to form a government (and thus become PM), known as 'kissing hands'; and when the PM asks the monarch to dissolve Parliament in advance of an election.

There are other constitutional liaisons between the monarch and government: the Privy Council handles prerogative powers (and must be consulted prior to the marriage of the monarch's heir), but there's not much actual 'meeting' involved these days.

Weekly audiences are entirely a matter of courtesy and tradition; there's also no obligation for the monarch and PM to meet at the State Opening, beyond being in the House of Lords at the same time. Queen Victoria and Gladstone didn't get on, and after 1880, when Victoria unsuccessfully tried to block Gladstone's return as PM, they interacted as little as possible.
posted by holgate at 1:27 AM on November 17, 2005

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