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The British monarchy as of 2008

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  1. Introduction
  2. Constitutional democracy today
    1. Great Britain: A constitutional democracy
    2. The royal prerogative
  3. Elizabeth II: Is she the perfect representation of the monarchy
    1. Her life
    2. Her role
  4. The future of the monarchy: What will happen after Elizabeth's death?
    1. A monarchy which still has duties and is still loved by the Brits
    2. The fall of the monarchy's popularity
    3. The future
  5. Conclusion

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. [...]

[...] By means of regular visits through every part of the United Kingdom, The Queen is able to act as a focus for national unity and identity. The Queen's unifying role as Sovereign is also shown in her special relationships with the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales. She is the symbol of a nation. In addition, at times of national celebration or tragedy, the Queen publicly represents the nation's mood - for example, at annual commemoration of the war dead on Remembrance Sunday, or at celebrations for a national sporting victory. [...]

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