The British monarchy is a shared monarchy which can trace its ancestral lineage back to the Anglo-Saxon period. The British monarch or Sovereign is the Head of state of the United Kingdom and in the British overseas territories. So the British monarch is also head of state of sixteen other countries, all of which were once part of the British Empire. These countries, together with the UK, are known as the Commonwealth Realms.
The powers of the monarchy, known as the Royal Prerogative, are still very extensive. But most of the powers are exercised not by the monarch personally, but by ministers. Indeed, as the modern British monarchy is a constitutional one, the Sovereign's role has been recognized since the 19th century, but in practice, political power is exercised today through Parliament and by the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The present Sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since February 6Th, 1952. But her function is often criticized and discussed for the money it represents. On the other side, it seems difficult to imagine Britain without the Royal Family.
[...] The Royal Prerogative includes many powers (such as the powers to make treaties or send ambassadors) as well as certain duties (such as the duties to defend the realm and to maintain the Queen's peace). As the British monarchy is a constitutional one, however, the monarch exercises the Royal Prerogative on the advice of ministers. And although the Royal Prerogative is extensive, it is not unlimited. For example, the monarch does not have the prerogative to impose and collect new taxes; such an action requires the authorisation of an Act of Parliament. [...]
[...] However, the original refusal of the royal family to organise official funerals for the princess Diana was so criticized by the British people and the press that even the monarchy was at stake. So Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy which has a cost, and the Queen is known as one of the richest person in the world (recently Forbes magazine conservatively estimated her fortune at around US$500 million i.e. £280 million). And public sympathy for the royal family was not restored with the death of the princess of Wales in 1997 because the Queen's emotional restraint was viewed as a proof of insensitivity. [...]
[...] As proved by the amount of press concerning the whereabouts of its members, the royal family continues to passionate and fascinate people: the majority of British tabloids publications 4 deals with the destiny of the family, the love affairs of princes (the new girlfriend of William), the personality of the Queen, the life of the heirs (such as Harry who is in Iraq now) There is also a huge literature about all the members of the royal family. Ex: The princess Diana is often named people's princess”, to stress on the particular attachment of the British people toward the princess, who never was afraid to show humanity. [...]
[...] in the gutter press: in 1997, Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family were perceived in the British tabloid press as cold and unfeeling when they did not participate in the public outpouring of grief at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales), but also to far more substantial problems, such as the cost of the institution. In spite of the immense wealth of the Crown, the Queen used not to pay any income tax. Parliament financed the royal family through the annual Civil List, while further expenses on behalf of the monarch were made by various ministerial departments. [...]
[...] Thus the Sovereign is one of the three components of Parliament; the others are the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It is the prerogative of the monarch to summon, prorogue, and dissolve Parliament. The Royal Prerogative, in addition, extends to foreign affairs. The Sovereign may negotiate and ratify treaties, alliances, and international agreements; no parliamentary approval is required. However, a treaty cannot alter the domestic laws of the United Kingdom; an Act of Parliament is necessary in such cases. [...]
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