Commons [empty] threat to remove Royal Assent from Prince Charles?

I cannot think this is serious, except as a rhetorical warning across Prince Charles’s bows for not being good constitutional monarch in waiting…

The role of the Queen and Prince of Wales in signing off new laws is “arcane and complex” and could be abolished, MPs have said.

The Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform committee warned that the process is “fuelling speculation” that the monarchy has an “undue influence”.

The MPs said there is “no evidence” that the law has been changed because of the process of obtaining royal consent, which they describe as a “matter of courtesy”.

However, they add that it is open to question whether this represents a “compelling justification” for maintaining the tradition.

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  • At this rate Norman-French (“La Reyne le veult” / “Le Roy le veult”) will soon be extinguished.

    And then what will we do?

  • Mick Fealty

    Yeah, like a Gerry Adams confession to an international inquiry? Dream on Malc… 😉

  • Seamus

    You are confusing Queen’s (and Prince’s) Consent with Royal Assent.

    Royal Assent is the formal method by which the Queen approves an act of Parliament and is largely a formality.

    Queen’s consent however affects all Bills in Parliament that affects the prerogative powers of the Crown or the property of the Crown or the Duchy of Lancaster. The Queen must give prior agreement to the Bill before it can be debated. If she doesn’t give her consent the Bill (or relevant section) is scrapped. In recent years the Queen hasn’t refused to consent unless advised to do so by the Prime Minister (giving the Prime Minister an effective veto on some laws). For example, on the advise of Tony Blair, the Queen refused in 1999 to transfer the power to declare war to Parliament.

    Prince’s Consent applies to any legislation that may effect the properties of the Duchy of Cornwall. It hasn’t been confirmed by either the Government or Clarence House whether Charles has ever vetoed a Bill.

  • Mick Fealty

    I should have been more explicit. I was trying to suggest Charlie’s being warned to, ahem, wind his neck in with all this lobbying he’s supposed to have been up to.

  • Seamus @ 4:16 pm:

    Well, you are half-way there.

    I’m talking (in obsolete Norman-French) of the nonsense of a royal imprimatur after Third Reading. The last time that went astray was 11 March 1708, when Queen Anne refused assent to “An Act for settling the Militia of that Part of Great Britain called Scotland”.

    Even that was not a matter of royal wilfulness. James Edward Stuart, The Old Pretender, had left Dunkirk on 6 March (17 March, NS) and was at sea, on his way to the Forth. Clearly the Godolphins and Marlborough (who were losing the game, but still had the main clout) were uncertain of the loyalty of the Scottish Militia. They therefore pulled the plug on the proposed Act, using the last resort of refusing royal assent.

    You would have to explain to me how:
    on the advise [sic]of Tony Blair, the Queen refused in 1999 to transfer the power to declare war to Parliament.

    Blair contribution came, as I recall, in 2003 when he sought and received Commons endorsement for war in Iraq. He later acknowledged: he could not
    conceive of a situation in which a Government… is going to go to war – except in circumstances where militarily for the security of the country it needs to act immediately – without a full parliamentary debate.

    That seems to be the present convention. In 2011, after a UN Security Council Resolution, there was a parliamentary debate on enforcing the No-Fly Zone in Libya.

    The most recent business, in September 2013 may be even more significant. Parliament was invited to endorse UK engagement in Syria. Recognising that opinion was turning sour (all credit to the antis who pushed Miliband the proper way), the Cameron government watered down its proposition to something little more than symbolic. When the Commons voted against engagement, it effectively strengthened the assumption that parliament would have to agree to future ventures.

  • Seamus

    The power to declare war is, at least nominally, a power that resides with the Crown, though is exercised by the Prime Minister. And as has been said it is pretty inconceivable that a Prime Minister would do so without the consent of Parliament. However he doesn’t have to do so (it would just be politically difficult for him to not request Parliament’s approval). Additionally the modern convention of seeking Parliament’s permission is a very recent one.

    In 1999 Tam Dalyell, with the support of senior left wing Labour MPs such as George Galloway, Dennis Skinner and the late Tony Benn, put forward a Private Members Bill (the Military Action Against Iraq Bill) that would transfer the power to authorise military action against Iraq from the Crown to Parliament. As it would amend a royal prerogative (the power to declare war) Queen’s Consent was required before it could be debated in Parliament. On the advice of Tony Blair the Queen refused to consent and as such the Bill was not allowed to be debated in Parliament.

  • Seamus


    I think it is more than that. It isn’t so much that Charles is lobbying it is that the his permission is actively being sought on dozens of individual pieces of legislation without so much as a confirmation from the Government or from Clarence House as to whether individual pieces of that legislation have been amended not to make the law better but because of hereditary principle.

    The idea of a democratically elected Chamber has to stop debating an issue because they don’t have the permission of an individual who only got his position by birth is alien to modern society.

    Commons committees are made up of a diverse group of politicians and tend to not be overly partisan (especially in comparison to the Chamber) and so are less likely to want to fire a shot across the bow because they don’t agree with the issues he is lobbying on.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Quite happy with Charles interfering – if he gets found out it could seriously destabilize both him and the monarchy.

    As Francis Urqhuart said, people won’t take kindly to a chap with three Bentleys lecturing them about poverty.

  • sherdy

    Possibly some British politicians are coming to realise that the monarchy itself is a useless anachronism which has outlived any usefulness it may have had. Time to pension them all off and create a proper democracy.

    Mick, – Ten out of ten for ingenuity in managing to insinuate Gerry Adams into a story about the British monarchy. But I think its a phobia you should get help for.

  • Seamus @ 6:21 pm is largely wrong about that Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill.

    He is correct only in so far that the Queen’s consent would have been required for the royal prerogative to be compromised (which is effectively exercised in any matter by, or on the advice of the Prime Minister). The sponsor of the Bill had declined on principle to seek such consent. So the Deputy Speaker refused to put the question on second reading. That little pas-de-deux avoided the government (with support from the main opposition party) having to vote it down, and left the sponsor to bask in a small glow of self-inflicted glory. It left the main question unanswered, alas.

    Any anorak who must — really, really must — put their minds at rest on this issue should resort to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel guidance, published (after some wrangling) 8th November last.

  • DogInTheStreet

    Mick’s quite correct. This is a warning shot across the bows to Charles as there is the fear he could become a politically involved monarch.

    The devil and waiting 70 years for the crown, has made work for his idle hands. Personally I don’t see him becoming King but passing it to William by popular demand. Old men these days are not attractive as new kings unfortunately