Is the British Queen regnant/reigning King allowed into the City of London?
June 19, 2008 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Is the British Queen regnant/reigning King allowed into the City of London?

I remember hearing somewhere elizabeth had to get special permission to enter either the center of london or the city of westminster. google has failed me.

is this true?
posted by krautland to Law & Government (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
No.

Buck House is in London.
posted by pompomtom at 5:52 AM on June 19, 2008


You or may not be right but it would be a bit odd in that the Lord Mayor of the City of London (not to be confused of course with the Mayor of London) after his/her election goes to swear allegiance to the Sovereign.

It would be even odder for the city of Westminster given that thats where Buckingham palace is.
posted by vacapinta at 5:53 AM on June 19, 2008


No.

Buck House is in London.
posted by pompomtom at


Buckingham palace is in London but not in the City of London.
posted by vacapinta at 5:55 AM on June 19, 2008


The only place in the country that the monarch cannot constitutionally enter is the House of Commons. All Lords, Temporal and Spiritual, are excluded from there, and have been since the re-establishment of the monarchy under Charles II.
posted by veedubya at 5:58 AM on June 19, 2008


Ah, good point. If you're talking specifically the square mile, I'd just say "I really, really, really don't think so".

Who would have the authority to refuse the crown?

Tower Hill is in the City, isn't it?
posted by pompomtom at 5:59 AM on June 19, 2008


Maybe you're thinking of the Queen's Speech? She's gotta ask permission to get into the House of Commons before she makes her annual speech.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:01 AM on June 19, 2008


She doesn't ask permission to enter the Commons for the Queen's Speech, she sends Black Rod to summon the Commons to the Lords.

My guess as to the origins of the OP's question is a misunderstanding whereby not being able to enter a particular part of the Palace of Westminster is confused with not entering the City of Westminster.
posted by veedubya at 6:08 AM on June 19, 2008


Halsbury's Laws of England: Local Government says this about the relationship between the Lord Mayor of the City of London (not the Mayor of Greater London) and the Queen:
By ancient custom the Lord Mayor tenders the City Sword to the Sovereign when she enters the City on state occasions, in token acknowledgement of her overriding authority. The Sovereign touches the sword and, by that gesture, returns it to the Lord Mayor with implied permission to carry it before her whilst she is in the City. Also by ancient custom the permission of the Lord Mayor is sought for the passage of troops through the City, and he receives quarterly, under the Sovereign's sign manual, the password of the Tower of London. As spokesman for the citizens, he is entitled to the right of special access to the Sovereign.
posted by grouse at 6:11 AM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


From this page:

Even the Queen has to ask to enter or leave the City, a permission granted by the presentation of the City Sword at Temple Bar in token that the Lord Mayor has surrendered his authority for so long as the Queen is within his boundaries
posted by jontyjago at 6:18 AM on June 19, 2008


From this page:

The Lord Mayor, who is elected for a one year stint, is the monarch in the City. As Aubrey Menen says in "London",
Time-Life, 1976, p. 16: "The relation of this monarch of the City to the monarch of the realm [Queen] is curious and tells
much." It certainly is and certainly does !

When the Queen of England goes to visit the City she is met by the Lord Mayor at Temple Bar, the symbolic gate of the City.
She bows and asks for permission to enter his private, sovereign State. During such State visits "the Lord Mayor in his robes
and chain, and his entourage in medieval costume, outshines the royal party, which can dress up no furhter than service
uniforms." The Lord Mayor leads the queen into his city.

And from here:

The City is not a part of England, just as Washington is not a part of the USA. The City is referred to as the wealthiest square mile on earth and is presided over by a Lord Mayor who is appointed annually. When the Queen wishes to conduct business within the City, she is met by the Lord Mayor at Temple (Templar) Bar where she requests permission to enter this private, sovereign state. She then proceeds into the City walking several paces behind the Mayor. Her entourage may not be clothed in anything other than service uniforms.


So, it's not just London in general, it's a very specific area of London.
posted by JanetLand at 6:21 AM on June 19, 2008


The City is not a part of England, just as Washington is not a part of the USA.
Quoted by JanetLand, above, from a site called "conspiracyarchive.com".

Um, Washing, D.C. is part of the United States. What it is not, is part of any of the several States, being a "federal district", and governed by Congress. (which effectively means the residents of DC are disenfranchised). I wouldn't put a lot of stock in anything written on that website.
posted by Goofyy at 6:30 AM on June 19, 2008


where she requests permission to enter this private, sovereign state. She then proceeds into the City walking several paces behind the Mayor. Her entourage may not be clothed in anything other than service uniforms.

this sounds like what I faintly remember hearing but this is only considering official business, correct? so were she to visit john lewis near oxford circus (I bring that up since I saw a stretched jaguar with the "ER" badge on the roof and a waiting police escort there this morning) she'd just have someone drive her into town...?
posted by krautland at 6:36 AM on June 19, 2008


The web site of an Australian naval air station is hardly authoritative. JanetLand's quotations come from web sites whose home pages are entitled "Freedom Domain Political Conspiracies Hemp Marijuana Freemen" and "Illuminati Conspiracy Archive" are even less authoritative, to put it kindly, and contain outright falsehoods.

As a practical matter, since custom does not bind the monarch (Halsbury's Laws of England: Crown and Royal Family §49), and can do no wrong in law (§48), there would be absolutely no way to stop her from violating these customs.

krautland: The John Lewis on Oxford Street is not in the City of London.
posted by grouse at 6:40 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interesting... though at least this explanation is a little vague about whether the City is demonstrating fealty to the Crown, or the other way around. I'd still imagine the former - but I suppose that'd be the 'special permission'.
posted by pompomtom at 6:41 AM on June 19, 2008


(and the City is certainly a part of England!)
posted by pompomtom at 6:43 AM on June 19, 2008


Oh, sorry, I should have mentioned that I too thought those websites were goofy, but they seemed to be addressing the old tradition or whatever that krautland remembered hearing, so I figured they'd do. But probably I shouldn't have. My bad.
posted by JanetLand at 6:51 AM on June 19, 2008


Wikipedia:

"It is sometimes asserted that the Lord Mayor may exclude the Sovereign from the City of London. The legend is based on the misinterpretation of the ceremony observed each time the Sovereign enters the City. At Temple Bar the Lord Mayor presents the City's pearl-encrusted Sword of State to the Sovereign as a symbol of the latter's overlordship. The Sovereign does not, as is often purported, wait for the Lord Mayor's permission to enter the City."
posted by rustcellar at 7:04 AM on June 19, 2008


From the official website of the British Monarchy:

Is it true that through an ancient law, The Queen can be prevented from entering the City of London?

The citizens of London, through the Corporation of the City, still retain their ancient privilege of being able to bar the Sovereign from entering their streets.

Technically, before Her Majesty may enter the boundaries of the City, she must seek the formal permission of the Lord Mayor and on State occasions this colourful ceremony is usually carried out at Temple Bar, near the Law Courts.

The custom goes back to the days when London was a walled city whose gates were closed at the order of the Lord Mayor. The ceremony is now symbolic as the ancient walls and old Temple Bar no longer exist.

When the Royal carriage is about to cross the boundary of the City of Westminster to enter the City of London, the Sovereign is challenged by the Lord Mayor, the City Marshal and the Aldermen. The Lord Mayor steps forward carrying his Sword of State and offers it point downwards to The Queen, who stretches out her hand and touches it. By surrendering his sword, permission to enter the City is given and the cord stretched across the road marking the boundary is lowered.

---
So technically, yes, the Queen can be barred from entering London but for practical reasons, she doesn't go about getting special permission every time.
posted by junesix at 7:06 AM on June 19, 2008


She could also be barred if she refuses to pay the £8 London Congestion Charge?
posted by Kabanos at 7:15 AM on June 19, 2008 [8 favorites]


The congestion charge has nothing to do with the City of London. It is imposed by Greater London.
posted by grouse at 7:19 AM on June 19, 2008


The only place in the country that the monarch cannot constitutionally enter is the House of Commons.

Bearing in mind, of course, that the British constitution is unwritten, and that theoretically the Sovereign could indeed enter the House of Commons. The bar to entry is that Commons shows that it may debate without interference from the Crown. One could argue that the Sovereign could enter, and not precipitate a constitutional crisis if she were to remain completely silent the whole time. It'll never happen, though.

All Lords, Temporal and Spiritual, are excluded from there, and have been since the re-establishment of the monarchy under Charles II.


Not quite true. Lords Temporal and Spiritual (i.e., members of the House of Lords; with the reform of the HoL, there seems to be a strong possibility that peers may be elected to either house) are now barred from sitting in Commons as Members, but may enter the chamber at will--simply look at the history of Prime Ministers, and you will see several who were also peers of the realm. (This also explains why Churchill was never elevated to the Peerage. He had been offered creation as the 1st Duke of London, but demurred so that his son would still be able to sit in the House of Commons, as at the time all peers--his son would have been a peer by courtesy--were also automatically members of the House of Lords. It wasn't until 1960-something that peers were able to 'disclaim' their peerages for life, and thus serve in the House of Commons).

The exclusion is not law, it is custom.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:41 AM on June 19, 2008


Minor correction: peers can indeed now be elected to the House of Commons, so long as they are not members of the House of Lords (or, of course, holders of any 'office of profit under the Crown').
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:41 AM on June 19, 2008


veedubya: "All Lords, Temporal and Spiritual, are excluded from there, and have been since the re-establishment of the monarchy under Charles II."

And Spiritual? Assuming for a moment that God exists, how exactly would they be enforcing this?
posted by WCityMike at 8:49 AM on June 19, 2008


WCityMike, the 'Lords Spiritual' are the ecclesiastical members of the House of Lords. Bishops in the Church of England. They have no voting power in most circumstances. Their place in the HoL is largely ceremonial and advisory, reflecting the history of Parliament, which was originally an advisory council to the Sovereign.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:53 AM on June 19, 2008


As pointed out, the City of London, while in London, is a very small geographical parcel within London.

It is kind of akin to downtown Manhattan, while being in New York, being a very small geographical parcel within New York.

However, the City of London also has its own political structures and specifically designated borders, etc.

Is London a city in the everyday sense of a large populous built-up area? Yes.
Is the City of London a city in the everyday sense? Not really. It's very small, although somewhat populous, and built-up.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 8:54 AM on June 19, 2008


What you didn't know about taxes and the Crown
posted by hortense at 10:30 AM on June 19, 2008


The exclusion is not law, it is custom.

Hey dirtynumbangelboy you clearly know a lot (more than I do) about this but are you sure about that particular bit ?

I recall that in the early 1960's UK passed a law to allow peers to renounce their peerage and this was (at least partially) motivated by "Tony Benn" not wishing to be the Viscount Stansgate but instead to sit as an MP. Seems like a lot of hoops to go through if the exclusion of peers from sitting in the HoC is only customary ?

Just asking...
posted by southof40 at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2008


It is more than mere custom (which can only act locally anyway, Halsbury's Laws of England: Custom and Usage §601). It is part of the common law. See Re Parliamentary Election for Bristol South East [1964] 2 QB 257, [1961] 3 All ER 354, DC, the cas about Tony Benn's disqualification.
posted by grouse at 12:46 AM on June 20, 2008


southof40.. sorry, that was an editing error on my part. I meant that the exclusion of the Sovereign from the House of Commons is custom, not law. The exclusion of peers was indeed law until the 60's--well, sort of. Prior to the 60's, all peers were automatically members of the House of Lords, and it was members of the HoL that were not permitted to sit as MPs (though they could sit as Prime Minister, somehow).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:35 AM on June 20, 2008


ARGH. Sorry. Prior to 1999, all peers were automatically members of the HoL, and prior to the 60's they had no way to refuse ('disclaim') their peerage.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:36 AM on June 20, 2008


the Lords Spiritual are the ecclesiastical members of the House of Lords. Bishops in the Church of England. They have no voting power in most circumstances. Their place in the HoL is largely ceremonial and advisory, reflecting the history of Parliament, which was originally an advisory council to the Sovereign.

Yet another example of why it's a bad idea to rely on Wikipedia for your information. This is wrong on at least three counts: (1) yes, the bishops are entitled to vote in the House of Lords, (2) no, their place in the Lords is not 'largely ceremonial and advisory', (3) their entitlement to sit in the House of Lords derives not from their advisory role, but from their ancient position as feudal landholders.

It's true that the bishops no longer vote en bloc, as they once did. They now attend the House of Lords by rotation, and rarely vote on party-political issues. But they frequently speak, and vote, on moral and social issues such as the Civil Partnerships Bill (2004) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (2008). Occasionally their votes can be crucial: e.g. the Government was defeated over an amendment to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill (2003) moved by the Bishop of Portsmouth and supported by two other bishops. If you go to the Public Whip website you can find a list of all the bishops in the House of Lords, with links to their speeches and voting records.
posted by verstegan at 3:44 AM on June 21, 2008


It is sometimes asserted that the Lord Mayor may exclude the Sovereign from the City of London. The legend is based on the misinterpretation of the ceremony observed each time the Sovereign enters the City. At Temple Bar the Lord Mayor presents the City's pearl-encrusted Sword of State to the Sovereign as a symbol of the latter's overlordship. The Sovereign does not, as is often purported, wait for the Lord Mayor's permission to enter the City.

This time, however, Wikipedia is right, and the Queen's website is wrong. The City has never been fully independent of the crown. Its right to self-government has always depended on royal authority, as laid down in a series of royal charters beginning with William the Conqueror in 1067. As Caroline Barron notes (in London in the Later Middle Ages, 2004), 'the Crown .. always retained the power .. to take back all that had been conceded to the City and to govern it directly through appointed royal wardens who could collect and manage all the city's revenue. London was not a semi-autonomous city like Ghent, Augsburg, or Venice ..' This was clearly recognised by John Stow, in his Survey of London (1603), where he commented that 'London is but a Citizen and no Citie, a Subject and no free estate, an Obedienciarie, and no place indowed with any distinct or absolute power'. Indeed, there were several occasions (most recently under Charles II in 1683) when the monarch revoked the City's charter and asserted the right to govern the City directly.

This is not merely a matter of antiquarian interest. From the websites linked by JanetLand, above, it seems that the claim that the City of London is a 'private sovereign state' is being enthusiastically promoted by some far-right conspiracy theorists who believe that the City secretly controls the world through its cabal of Jewish bankers. So it needs to be made clear that this claim has absolutely no historical basis. The City has never been a 'private sovereign state' and has never asserted the right to refuse entry to the monarch.
posted by verstegan at 8:43 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet another example of why it's a bad idea to rely on Wikipedia for your information. This is wrong on at least three counts: (1) yes, the bishops are entitled to vote in the House of Lords, (2) no, their place in the Lords is not 'largely ceremonial and advisory', (3) their entitlement to sit in the House of Lords derives not from their advisory role, but from their ancient position as feudal landholders.


1) Never said they weren't entitled to vote. I said they rarely did, which you yourself supported.

2) See above.

3) Everyone's entitlement to sit in the HoL derives from their advisory role to the Sovereign. Yes, they had to own lands in order to get the advisory role, but the HoL is one of the original councils to the Sovereign.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:24 AM on June 21, 2008


Well, you said the bishops had 'no voting power in most circumstances', which is incorrect. But I don't want to get caught up in a game of you said / no I didn't. The point, which I hope we can both accept, is that the bishops' presence in the House of Lords gives them a great deal of political power. Many people feel that this is indefensible, and that their power ought to be (at the very least) severely cut back. (Is it right, for example, that the Bishop of Rochester should be able to vote against equal rights for homosexuals? Who elected him? Whose interests does he represent?) There are important constitutional issues here, and I don't think it is helpful to brush them aside by saying that the bishops' powers are merely 'ceremonial and advisory'. They are not.
posted by verstegan at 10:15 AM on June 21, 2008


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