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How much power does Queen Elizabeth actually have?


If you follow the British royal family, you will know that the Queen has some bizarre powers as the head of the  United Kingdom such as eating swans and stealing children.

Luckily, there’s no evidence that she exercises either of those powers. But does she have any sway in the British political process?

Under the British Constitution, Her Majesty has quite a few powers and privileges. Ahead, discover some of the things that the Queen has the power to do.

  • She can open and close Parliament sessions

According to some reports, many of Queen Elizabeth’s political powers are largely ceremonial. Her Majesty has to officially open the session every year in May to begin the Parliamentary year. This involves a ceremony where the Queen leads a procession through the royal gallery at the Palace of Westminster and then gives a formal address to both Houses of Parliament.

Also read: Queen Elizabeth reportedly made Meghan Markle take fertility test before she let her marry Prince Harry.

In fact, it’s the only event where the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and the Queen gather together. She also technically has the power to fire everyone in the House of Commons and hold an election. 

  • Queen Elizabeth II has to sign off on new laws

Another power the 92-year-old reigning monarch holds is the Royal Assent. Parliament makes laws, but Queen Elizabeth must sign off on proposed bills before they can go into effect.

By giving the Royal Assent, she approves the proposed law. She even has the power to reject bills. But the last monarch to do that was Queen Anne, who in 1708 vetoed a measure that would have restored the Scottish militia.

  • She can appoint Ministers to the Crown, and pardon criminals

Queen Elizabeth has all the power to appoint Ministers to the Crown. While most government officials in the United Kingdom have to be voted into office, Her Majesty can select advisors and cabinet officials herself.

Other interesting political powers Queen Elizabeth has? The reigning sovereign retains the power to declare war against other nations. And the last monarch to declare war was King George VI, who declared a war on Nazi Germany in 1939.

  • The queen is technically responsible for issuing passports and commanding the British military

She has powers that ministers exercise for her. Anyone with a British passport technically should thank to the Queen. Each one is issued in her name, even though other people do the work for her.

Also read: This is why the Queen is rarely seen wearing trousers.

Queen Elizabeth is also the Commander-in-Chief of the United Kingdom’s military, and all British soldiers have to swear an oath to her before they officially join.

  • Queen Elizabeth II can bestow honours on individuals

According to some special reports, one of the main prerogative powers that are still used personally by the Queen these days is the power to grant honours. As all honours derive from the Crown, she has the final say on knighthoods, peerages and the like.

She can create peerages for people, either life peerages or hereditary ones. Her Majesty can also create orders of knighthood. In fact, she can grant any citizen honours ranging from the Royal Victorian Order to the Order of the Garter, or making someone a Knight or Dame.