British Monarchy

The role of the Queen in the modern society. The royal prerogatives and functions. The main sources of income. Principal ceremonials connected with royalty. The coronation of the British monarch. Members of the Royal Family. The Ceremony of the Keys.

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Язык английский
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British Monarchy

Студентки Потаповой Любови Леонидовны

Руководитель ст. преподаватель Демидова Г.В.

Самара, 2011



1. The role of the Queen in the modern society

2. The royal prerogatives and functions

3. The royal family

4. The main sources of income

5. Principal ceremonials connected with royalty

6. Royal residences




Monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom.

In a monarchy, a king or queen is Head of State. The British monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. This means that, while The Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament.

Although the British Sovereign no longer has a political or executive role, he or she continues to play an important part in the life of the nation.

As Head of State, The Monarch undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. The Monarch has a less formal role as 'Head of Nation'. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.

The monarch acts within the constraints of convention and precedent, only exercising prerogative on the advice of ministers responsible to Parliament, often through the Prime Minister or Privy Council. Although the Royal Prerogative is extensive and parliamentary approval is not formally required for its exercise, it is limited. Though Britain is actually governed by Her Majesty's Government, it would be wrong to underestimate the role of the monarchy in Britain. The official and state duties of the Queen are numerous. The Queen's involvement is still required in many important acts of government.

As a constitutional monarch, Her Majesty does not 'rule' the country, but fulfills important ceremonial and formal roles with respect to Government. She is also Fount of Justice, Head of the Armed Forces and has important relationships with the established Churches of England and Scotland.

In international affairs the Queen, as head of state, has the power to declare war and make peace, direct the actions of the military, to recognize foreign states and governments, to conclude ratify treaties, alliances, and international agreements and to annex or cede territories

In all these roles the Sovereign is supported by members of their immediate family. In this essay you can see about the Royal Family name of Windsor, which was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952.

The Monarchy has sometimes been described as an expensive institution, with Royal finances shrouded in confusion and secrecy. In reality, the Royal Household is committed to ensuring that public money is spent as wisely and efficiently as possible, and to making Royal Finances as transparent and comprehensible as possible. The essay provides an outline of how the work of the Monarchy is funded. It includes information on Head of State expenditure, together with information about other aspects of Royal finances.

Ceremonial activities have always been associated with British kings and queen, and in spite of changing attitudes, many traditional ceremonies still take place. Royal marriages and funerals are major ceremonial events. Royal processions play an important part on occasions such as arrival of visiting heads of State, and the State Opening of Parliament. Such royal ceremonial normally attracts large crowds; millions more in Britain and abroad follow the events on television.

1. The role of the Queen in the modern society

The Queen is Head of State in the United Kingdom. As a constitutional monarch, Her Majesty does not 'rule' the country, but fulfills important ceremonial and formal roles with respect to Government. She is also Fount of Justice, Head of the Armed Forces and has important relationships with the established Churches of England and Scotland. You can read more about the Queen's State roles in the UK and Crown dependencies in this chapter.

As Head of State the Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters, unable to vote or stand for election.

But the Queen has important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the Government of the UK.

The formal phrases 'Queen in Parliament' or 'Crown in Parliament' are used to describe the British legislature, which consists of the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Queen's duties include opening each new session of Parliament, dissolving Parliament before a general election, and approving Orders and Proclamations through the Privy Council.

In addition to playing a specific role in the UK Parliament based in London, the Queen has formal roles with relation to the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The role of the Sovereign in the enactment of legislation is today purely formal, although the Queen has the right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn through regular audiences with her ministers.

As a constitutional monarch, the Sovereign is required to assent to all Bills passed by Parliament, on the advice of Government ministers. The Royal Assent (consenting to a measure becoming law) has not been refused since 1707.

2. The royal prerogatives and functions

The constitutional and legal doctrine declares that the Queen can do nothing wrong. In practice this has come to mean that the Queen does not act independently. Whatever she does must be done on the advice of a Minister; and that Minister is politically responsible for the royal act.

Some of the government's executive authority is theoretically and nominally vested in the Sovereign and is known as the Royal Prerogative. The monarch acts within the constraints of convention and precedent, only exercising prerogative on the advice of ministers responsible to Parliament, often through the Prime Minister or Privy Council. In practice, prerogative powers are only exercised on the Prime Minister's advice--the Prime Minister, and not the Sovereign, has control. The monarch holds a weekly audience with the Prime Minister. The monarch may express his or her views, but, as a constitutional ruler, must ultimately accept the decisions of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

Although the Royal Prerogative is extensive and parliamentary approval is not formally required for its exercise, it is limited. Many Crown prerogatives have fallen out of use or have been permanently transferred to Parliament. For example, the monarch cannot impose and collect new taxes; such an action requires the authorization of an Act of Parliament. According to a parliamentary report, "The Crown cannot invent new prerogative powers", and Parliament can override any prerogative power by passing legislation.

Though Britain is actually governed by Her Majesty's Government, it would be wrong to underestimate the role of the monarchy in Britain. The official and state duties of the Queen are numerous. The Queen's involvement is still required in many important acts of government. It is the prerogative of the monarch to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament. She opens each parliamentary session with a speech from the Throne which outlines her Government's programme. Before a bill that has passed all its stages in both Houses of Parliament becomes a law it must receive the Royal Assent.

The Royal Prerogative includes the powers to appoint and dismiss many important office holders, including government ministers, judges, officers in the armed forces, governors, diplomats, bishops and other senior clergy of the Church of England. An important function of the Queen is appointing the Prime Minister, but when doing so she is bound to invite the leader of the political party, which commands a majority in the House of Commons to form a government.

She regulates the civil service and issue passports.

The Sovereign is deemed the "fount of justice"; although the Sovereign does not personally rule in judicial cases; judicial functions are performed in her name. For instance, prosecutions are brought on the monarch's behalf, and courts derive their authority from the Crown. The common law holds that the Sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted for criminal offences. The Crown Proceedings Act 1947 allows civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the government), but not lawsuits against the monarch personally. The Sovereign exercises the "prerogative of mercy", which is used to pardon convicted offenders or reduce sentences.

The monarch is the "fount of honor", the source of all honors and dignities in the United Kingdom. The Crown creates all peerages, appoints members of the orders of chivalry, grants knighthoods and awards other honors. Although peerages and most other honors are granted on the advice of the Prime Minister, some honors are within the personal gift of the Sovereign, and are not granted on ministerial advice. The monarch alone appoints members of the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Royal Victorian Order and the Order of Merit.

The monarch has a similar relationship with the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Sovereign appoints the First Minister of Scotland on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament, and the First Minister of Wales on the nomination of the National Assembly for Wales. In Scottish matters, the Sovereign acts on the advice of the Scottish Government. However, as devolution is more limited in Wales, in Welsh matters the Sovereign acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of the United Kingdom. The Sovereign can veto any law passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly, if it is deemed unconstitutional by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

In international affairs the Queen, as head of state, has the power to declare war and make peace, direct the actions of the military, to recognize foreign states and governments, to conclude ratify treaties, alliances, and international agreements and to annex or cede territories. However, a treaty cannot alter the domestic laws of the United Kingdom; an Act of Parliament is necessary in such cases.

For advice on such matters the Queen has her own Privy Council. In earlier times it was a body of advisers of English monarchs and was the chief source of executive power in the State. The present-day Privy Council exists mainly to give effect to policy decisions made elsewhere. The Privy Council consists of members of the royal family, the Archbishops and all senior ministers and ex-ministers, together with others to whom membership has been given as an honor.

The monarch is commander in chief of the Armed Forces (the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force), accredits British High Commissioners and ambassadors, and receives diplomats from foreign states.

3. The royal family

Members of the Royal Family can be known both by the name of the Royal house, and by a surname, which are not always the same. And often they do not use a surname at all.

Before 1917, members of the British Royal Family had no surname, but only the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged.

Kings and princes were historically known by the names of the countries over which they and their families ruled. Kings and queens therefore signed themselves by their first names only, a tradition in the United Kingdom which has continued to the present day. Just as children can take their surnames from their father, so sovereigns normally take the name of their 'House' from their father.

The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However, in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House), as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of George V.

It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that the Queen's descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor.

This reflected Prince Philip's surname. In 1947, when Prince Philip of Greece became naturalized, he assumed the name of Philip Mountbatten as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

The effect of the declaration was that all the Queen's children, on occasions when they needed a surname, would have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.

For the most part, members of the Royal Family who are entitled to the style and dignity of HRH Prince or Princess do not need a surname, but if at any time any of them do need a surname (such as upon marriage), that surname is Mountbatten-Windsor.

The surname Mountbatten-Windsor first appeared on an official document on 14 November 1973, in the marriage register at Westminster Abbey for the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips.

A proclamation on the Royal Family name by the reigning monarch is not statutory; unlike an Act of Parliament, it does not pass into the law of the land. Such a proclamation is not binding on succeeding reigning sovereigns, nor does it set a precedent which must be followed by reigning sovereigns who come after.

Unless The Prince of Wales chooses to alter the present decisions when he becomes king, he will continue to be of the House of Windsor and his grandchildren will use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. The order of succession is the sequence of members of the Royal Family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne. This sequence is regulated not only through descent, but also by Parliamentary statute. Precedence determines the seniority of members of the Royal Family at official events and is influenced by a variety of laws, and by custom and tradition. Precedence among members of the Royal Family at private events is a matter for The Queen's discretion.

Thus, though The Duke of Edinburgh does not appear in the immediate line of succession, he appears directly after The Queen in the order of precedence as he is considered the second most senior member of the Royal Family.

For example, during the annual Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph, members of the Royal Family lay their wreaths at the memorial according to the order of precedence. The Queen will lay the first wreath, followed by The Duke of Edinburgh, then The Prince of Wales and so on.

There is no strict protocol about how a letter should be written, though some people wish to observe the traditional forms.

In which case, people may write to The Queen with the formal opening 'Madam' and close the letter with the form 'I have the honor to be, Madam, Your Majesty's humble and obedient servant'.

For other members of the Royal Family the formal opening is 'Sir' or 'Madam'. Other people prefer to open their letter with 'Your Majesty' or 'Your Royal Highness' and end it with 'Yours sincerely'.

4. The main sources of income

The royal income and expenditure are mostly met from public funds, known as the Civil List and the Grants-in-Aid, a payment from public funds approved by Parliament. Some expenditure also met by public department arises from state visits overseas and other official duties. These include the costs of the Queen's Flight (that costs ?3 million per year and consists of 5 planes and 2 helicopters), the ?7 million Royal Train, which isn't one train but 13, and official cars and coaches. The government pays for 75% of royal costs. The Queen's Civil List covers most expenses, including those for staffing, state visits, public engagements, and official entertainment as well as the provision of members of the royal family. The size of the Civil List is fixed by Parliament at the beginning of the reign and reconsidered every 10 years; any money saved may be carried forward to the next ten year period.

This is the amount of money provided by Parliament to meet the official expenses of The Queen's Household, so that the Queen can carry out her role as Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are the only members of the Royal Family to receive an annual parliamentary allowance.

In 1760, George III reached an agreement with the Government over the Crown Estate. The Crown Lands would be managed on behalf of the Government and the surplus revenue would go to the Treasury. In return, the King would receive a fixed annual payment, which we call today the Civil List.

About 70 per cent of the Civil List expenditure goes on staff salaries. It also goes towards meeting the costs of official functions such as garden parties, receptions and official entertainment during State Visits. The Queen entertains almost 50,000 people each year.

The Royal Household strives to be open and transparent, and details of expenditure are published in an Annual Summary and Annual Report.

The Sovereign receives an annual Property Services Grant-in-Aid to pay for the upkeep of the royal residences, as well as an annual Royal Travel Grant-in-Aid.

Each year the Royal Family carries out almost 3,000 official engagements around the United Kingdom and overseas.

The Royal Household receives annual funding to meet the costs of official travel through the Department of Transport. The majority of Royal Travel expenditure pays for The Queen's helicopter and charter and scheduled fix-wing aircraft.

A separate grant is voted by Parliament each year, through the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, to cover the upkeep of the Royal residences. These ones are: Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace, Clarence House, Marlborough House Mews, the residential and office areas of Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and the buildings in the Home and Great Parks at Windsor, and Hampton Court Mews and Paddocks, as well as The Queen's Gallery. The money is used to meet the cost of maintenance and some utilities.

The monarch's private expenses as sovereign come from the Privy Purse - financed from the revenues of some privately owned royal estates as the Duchy of Lancaster as well as a number of commercial enterprises. This is a historical term used to describe income from the Duchy of Lancaster, which is used to meet both official and private expenditure by The Queen. Until 1760 the monarch met all official expenses from hereditary revenues, which included the profits of the Crown Estate. In 1760 King George III decided that the whole cost of the Civil List should be provided by Parliament in return for the surrender of the hereditary revenues by the King for the duration of his reign. (This arrangement still applies today, although civil government costs are now paid by Parliament, rather than financed directly by the monarch from the Civil List.) Its main purpose is to provide an independent source of income, and is used mainly to pay for official expenditure not met by the Civil List.

Other costs incurred by the monarch as a private individual come from the Crown's own resources, which are very considerable. The Queen's personal income, derived from her personal investment portfolio and private estates, is used to meet her private expenses.

The Royal family is the largest landowner in Britain, with large areas of land in England, Scotland and valuable city property in London, including Regent's Park, parts of Paul Mall, Piccadilly, Holborn and Kensington. The Queen and her family own several castles, official residences and numerous country homes. Like the Crown Estate, the land and assets of the Duchy of Lancaster are held in trust for futures rulers, and cannot be sold by the monarch. The revenues of the Duchy form part of the Privy Purse, and are used for expenses not borne by the Civil List. The sovereign is subject to indirect taxes such as value added tax, and since 1993 the Queen has paid income tax and capital gains tax on personal income. The Civil List and Grants-in-Aid are not treated as income as they are solely for official expenditure.

Estimates of the Queen's wealth vary, depending on whether assets owned by her personally or held in trust for the nation are included. For example, the Royal Collection is not the personal property of the monarch but is administered by the Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity.

The Queen does own certain homes in private capacities, which were both inherited from her father. Sandringham House in Norfolk is used from Christmas to the end of January; Balmoral Castle is a privately owned castle in Scotland.

On top of this, the Queen has her private fortune, a source of interminable speculation. In additional to her capital, the Queen owns the finest art collection in the world, fabulous royal jewellery, the royal stamp collection, the royal race-horses, which yield a profit, and no less than 5 tons of gold plate. Some sources reckon that the private fortune of the Queen is between 50 and 60 pounds a year.

Each year the Royal Household publishes a summary of Head of State expenditure, together with a full report on Royal public finances.

5. Principal ceremonials connected with royalty

Royal events and ceremonies hold a powerful fascination. Occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, Trooping the Colour and Garter Day are some of the most colourful and exciting events of the year. These official occasions are full of symbolism, tradition and meaning, and an integral part of The Queen's role as Head of State.

Accession and Coronation

On Wednesday, 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father's death and her own accession to the throne, while staying in a remote part of Kenya. The tour had to be abandoned, and the young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen. She was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.

The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. It was a solemn ceremony conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Representatives of the peers, the Commons and all the great public interests in Britain, the Prime Ministers and leading citizens of the other Commonwealth countries, and representatives of foreign states were present. The Coronation was followed by drives through every part of London, a review of the fleet at Spithead, and visits to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

So we can make resume that the main principal ceremonials connected with royalty are Accession and Coronation.

Accession describes the event of a new Sovereign taking the throne upon the death of the previous King or Queen. A new Sovereign succeeds to the throne as soon as his or her predecessor dies and is at once proclaimed at an Accession Council in St James's Palace.

The coronation of the British monarch is a ceremony in which the monarch of the United Kingdom is formally crowned and invested with regalia. It corresponds to coronation ceremonies that formerly occurred in other European monarchies, which have currently abandoned coronations in favour of inauguration or enthronement ceremonies.

The coronation usually takes place several months after the death of the previous monarch, as it is considered a joyous occasion that would be inappropriate when mourning still continues. This also gives planners enough time to complete the elaborate arrangements required. As we know, for example, Elizabeth II was crowned on 2 June 1953, despite having acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952, the instant her father died. British law states that the throne is not left vacant and the new monarch succeeds the old immediately.

The ceremony is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior cleric of the Church of England. Other clergy and members of the nobility also have roles; most participants in the ceremony are required to wear ceremonial uniforms or robes. Many other government officials and guests attend, including representatives of foreign countries.

The essential elements of the coronation have remained largely unchanged for the past thousand years. The sovereign is first presented to, and acclaimed by, the people. He or she then swears an oath to uphold the law and the Church. Following that, the monarch is anointed with oil, crowned, and invested with the regalia, before receiving the homage of his or her subjects.

The coronation ring, which had been made to fit her little finger, was forced on to her fourth finger by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen had to bathe her hand in iced water after the ceremony before she could remove it. Despite that, the Queen later described the day as "the proudest of my life".

The Queen's birthdays and Trooping the Colour

The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday on a Saturday in June.

Official celebrations to mark Sovereigns' birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer. King Edward VII, for example, was born on 9 November, but his official birthday was marked throughout his reign in May or June when there was a greater likelihood of good weather for the Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.

The Queen usually spends her actual birthday privately, but the occasion is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at midday. On her official birthday, Her Majesty is joined by other members of the Royal Family at the spectacular Trooping the Color parade which moves between Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Horseguards' Parade.

So the Sovereign's birthday is officially celebrated by the ceremony of Trooping the Color. Trooping the Color is carried out by fully trained and operational troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, watched by members of the Royal Family, invited guests and members of the public. Only one color can be trooped at a time. The five regiments - Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards - take their turn year by year.

This military ceremony dates back to the early eighteenth century or earlier, when the colors (flags) of the battalion were carried (or 'trooped') down the ranks so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers. Since 1748, this parade has also marked the Sovereign's official birthday. From the reign of Edward VII onwards, the Sovereign has taken the salute in person at Trooping the Color. During the ceremony, The Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops.

After the massed bands have performed a musical 'troop', the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks. The Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry then march past Her Majesty, and The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, rank past. The Queen rides in a carriage back to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards, before taking the salute at the Palace from a dais. The troops then return to barracks. Her Majesty then joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

The Remembrance Day ceremony is held on the second Sunday in November at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, and is popularly known as Poppy Day as on that day people wear an artificial poppy in memory of those who fell in two world wars. Through this annual event, the nation pays homage to those who died in World War I and World War II and in many other lesser conflicts from the twentieth century to the present.

The Queen, other members of the Royal Family and leaders of the country's political parties join representatives of the Armed Forces and ex-servicemen and women for the two-minute silence and the last post.

First, Her Majesty lays a wreath of poppies on a monument called `The Cenotaph', followed by members of the Royal Family, representatives of the political parties and High Commissioners from the Commonwealth. Then? At exactly 11 o'clock, there is two minutes' silence.

A short religious service follows. After the reveille and the national anthem, The Queen departs. The war veterans then march past the Cenotaph to pay their respects to the fallen. A member of the Royal Family takes the salute as the war veterans finish their route at Horse Guards. Every year at Easter the Queen presents special 'Maundy money' to local pensioners (to a group of old people) at Westminster Abbey or in one of the other cathedrals in the country. The presentation takes place on Maundy Thursday in recognition of the service of elderly people to their community and their church.

Maundy Thursday commemorates the day of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The word 'Maundy' comes from the command or 'mandatum' by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another. The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the thirteenth century. The Sovereign also used to give food and clothing, and even washed the recipients' feet. That part of tradition stopped in 1574, and the last monarch to do so was James II.

The selection is coordinated by the diocese (regional Church of England authority) hosting Royal Maundy that year. Since the fifteenth century, the number of Maundy coins handed out, and the number of people receiving the coins, has been related to the Sovereign's age; in 2011, there were 85 male and 85 female recipients at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Maundy service attended by Her Majesty, and two purses of 'Maundy money' were given to 85 men and 85 women - a white purse containing 85p in Maundy coins and a red purse containing ?5 coin and 50p piece.

Maundy coins have remained in much the same form since 1670. They have traditionally been struck in sterling silver, except for the brief interruptions of Henry's Vlll's debasement of the coinage and the general change to 50% silver coins in 1920. The sterling silver standard was resumed following the Coinage Act of 1946. In 1971, when decimalisation took place, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence. The effigy of The Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone three changes, but Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins issued in the year of her coronation in 1953. The Royal Maundy Service used to take place in London, but early in her reign the Queen decided that the service should take place at a different venue every year.

The Ceremony of the Keys

The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London is a 700 year old tradition that takes place every night. Essentially it's locking all the doors to the Tower of London and the public are allowed to escort the warden, as long as they apply in advance. The Ceremony of the Keys involves the formal locking of the gates at the Tower of London. As the Tower must be locked - it houses the Crown Jewels - the Ceremony of the Keys has happened every night for around 700 years.

The Chief Yeoman Warder is escorted around the Tower locking all the doors until he is 'challenged' by the sentry whom he must answer before completing the task. The same wording is used every night. Every night, at exactly 21.52 (eight minutes to 10pm), the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower comes out of the Byward Tower, dressed in red, carrying a candle lantern in one hand and the Queen's Keys in the other hand. He walks to Traitor's Gate to meet two/four members of the duty regiment Foot Guards who escort him throughout the ceremony. One soldier takes the lantern and they walk in step to the outer gate. All guards and sentries on duty salute the Queen's Keys as they pass.

All four men walk to the Bloody Tower archway and up towards the broadwalk steps where the main Guard is drawn up. The Chief Yeoman Warder and escort halt at the foot of the steps and the officer in charge gives the command to the Guard and escort to present arms.

The Chief Yeoman Warder moves two paces forward, raises his Tudor bonnet high in the air and calls "God preserve Queen Elizabeth." The guard answers "Amen" exactly as the clock chimes 10pm (22.00) and 'The Duty Drummer' sounds The Last Post on his bugle. The Chief Yeoman Warder takes the keys back to the Queen's House and the Guard is dismissed.

Holyrood Week

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh undertake a variety of engagements in Scotland each year - usually from the end of June to the beginning of July- to celebrate Scottish culture, history and achievement. The event is known as 'Holyrood Week' and includes traditional engagements such as the Ceremony of the Keys and an Investiture and Garden Party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, plus a number of regional engagements.

The week always begins with the Ceremony of the Keys, the ceremony at which the Queen is received in the city of Edinburgh by the City Chamberlain. Her Majesty is given the keys of the city and is welcomed to 'your ancient and hereditary kingdom of Scotland'.

An Investiture ceremony is held in the Great Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse to enable Scottish residents whose achievements have been recognised in the twice-yearly Honours List to collect their honours from Her Majesty in their home country.

The Queen may undertake engagements connected to the Scottish Parliament. Each year, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh entertain around 8,000 guests from all walks of Scottish life at a Garden Party in the spectacular grounds of the Palace, which stands at the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. The guests enjoy tea in the gardens accompanied by music from regimental bands and a pipe society. King George V and Queen Mary held the first garden party in the grounds of Holyroodhouse and the tradition has been maintained ever since.

The Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's official bodyguards whilst Her Majesty is in Scotland, are on duty at the garden party; they form avenues down which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh proceed, and look after guests in the tea tents. Since its appointment as the Sovereign's Body Guard in Scotland in 1822 for the visit to Edinburgh of George IV, the Royal Company of Archers has served as bodyguard to each successive monarch. In this role today it is available for duty anywhere in Scotland at the request of the Queen on any State and ceremonial occasion which may be taking place.

The Holyrood Week programme also includes the Thistle Service at St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. The Order of the Thistle represents the highest honour in Scotland and is presented to Scottish men and women who have held public office or who have contributed in a particular way to national life. The service celebrates the Order, its history and its current members. The remainder of the week is taken up with less formal visits. In past years the Queen has opened a new university campus and visited a water treatment works and a contemporary art gallery. The Duke of Edinburgh may attend events linked to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, such as a dinner or a Gold Awards ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The State Opening of Parliament

The State Opening of Parliament is the most colourful event of the Parliamentary year. It is also the most important, because it brings together the three elements of the legislature (the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Queen). The ceremony therefore represents the Crown in Parliament.

As Head of State, it is the duty of the Queen formally to open each new session of Parliament. Her Majesty has opened Parliament on 58 occasions and has only missed two during her reign. The first time was in 1959 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and the second in 1963 when she was expecting Prince Edward.

The ceremony traditionally takes place in October, November or December each year, but sometimes in a different month if a General Election has taken place. Before the Queen travels to Parliament from Buckingham Palace, certain traditional precautions are observed. A detachment of The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard searches the cellars of the Houses of Parliament.

This tradition dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested whilst preparing to blow up Parliament. Today, the Yeomen of the Guard continue this historic search, in addition to the security checks by police.

Another tradition is the 'hostage' MP (Member of Parliament), a Government whip who is held at Buckingham Palace to guarantee the safe return of the monarch. The custom dates back to centuries when the monarch and Parliament were on less cordial terms.

Once these precautions have been taken, the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace in a State coach to the Palace of Westminster, usually accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh. The Imperial State Crown travels in its own carriage, ahead of the Queen, escorted by Members of the Royal Household. On arrival, the Queen puts on the Imperial State Crown and her parliamentary robe ready for the ceremony itself. This takes place in the House of Lords. Some 250 representatives of the House of Commons are summoned by Black Rod, who acts as The Queen's Messenger. By tradition, the door of the House of Commons is slammed in Black Rod's face. It is then reopened to enable Black Rod to convey the Sovereign's summons to the Speaker. This tradition is a reminder of the right of the Commons to exclude everyone but the Sovereign's messengers.

No monarch has set foot in the Commons since Charles I entered the Commons and tried to arrest five Members of Parliament in 1642.

Spectators can view the procession to Parliament from Buckingham Palace in The Mall and Whitehall. The ceremony is also broadcast live on BBC television.


The Queen holds Audiences throughout the year, wherever Her Majesty may be in Residence. Usually only the Queen and her visitor are present, although when a newly-appointed foreign Ambassador or High Commissioner arrives to present his or her credentials, then members of their family and officials are sometimes present.

The Prime Minister has a regular audience when both the Queen and he are in London. Before presenting a Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer always has an audience.

Apart from a note in the Court Circular, no written record of Audiences take place, and Her Majesty treats all meetings as private ones.

When the Queen is visiting a Realm, the Prime Minister of the country normally has an audience with Her Majesty, and likewise, when they are in the UK, they may have an audience there.

With tea, cakes and a beautiful garden to stroll in, Garden Parties are among the most relaxed and informal Royal events. Every summer, the Queen hosts at least three at Buckingham Palace, as well as one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Over 30,000 people attend.

Garden parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860s, when Queen Victoria instituted what were known as 'breakfasts' (though they took place in the afternoon). In the 1950s the number of garden parties held at Buckingham Palace was increased from two to three a year. They took the place of presentation parties attended by debutantes, but have evolved into a way of rewarding and recognising public service. They are attended by people from all walks of life.

Garden Parties take place between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm, although the Palace gates are open from about 3.00 pm. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4.00 pm, when the National Anthem is played by one of the two military bands playing selections of music during the afternoon.

Among more modern ceremonies and customs there should be mentioned 100th Birthday Telegrams, which the Queen sends to anyone in Britain or the Commonwealth on their 100th birthday, and the Royal Film Performances in London's West End, attended by someone from the Royal Family (the money from royal premieres always goes to charity). The Queen's Christmas Speech to the Commonwealth is made on December 25 and lasted 10 minutes. In it the Queen usually talks about the past 12 months and her hopes the year ahead. In her Christmas speech broadcasted by radio and TV the Queen breaks the monarchs' tradition of calling themselves `we' and just says `I' or `my husband and I'.

There is also the Royal Variety Performance. The Royal Variety Performance takes place in a different UK theatre each year. The Queen and The Prince of Wales attend the performance on alternate years. The proceeds are donated to The Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund which cares for hundreds of entertainers throughout the UK who need help and assistance as a result of old age, ill-health, or hard times. Brinsworth House, in Twickenham, is the Fund's dedicated nursing home, caring for elderly members of the entertainment profession.

The origins of the Royal Variety Performance date back to 1912, when the present Queen's grandparents, King George V, and Queen Mary, agreed to attend a 'Royal Command Performance' at the Palace Theatre in London, in aid of the Variety Artistes' Benevolent Fund (the previous name of the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund) and its proposed plans to build an extension to its Home for elderly entertainers, Brinsworth House. This first staging was a lavish occasion, and the theatre was decorated with 3 million roses draped around the auditorium and over the boxes.

6. Royal residences

queen royal british monarch

Throughout the centuries, Britain's kings and queens have built or bought palaces to serve as family homes, workplaces and as centres of government. The residences still standing today can be roughly divided into three categories: Official Royal residences, Private Estates, Unoccupied Royal residences.

Official Royal residences are held in trust for future generations. As well as being family homes for members of the Royal Family, these are also working buildings which are used for housing the offices of staff from the Royal Household, entertaining official guests and hosting formal events and ceremonies. The best-known of these residences are probably Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

Private Estates are owned by the Queen and are often used to generate private income through farming or public access to Royal residences, they also house some well-known private residences such as Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House.

Balmoral Castle on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland is the private residence of the Queen. Beloved by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Balmoral Castle has remained a favourite residence for The Queen and her family during the summer holiday period in August and September. The Castle is located on the large Balmoral Estate, a working estate which aims to protect the environment while contributing to the local economy. The Estate grounds, gardens and the Castle Ballroom are open to visitors from the beginning of April to the end of July each year, under the management of the Balmoral Estate Office. Sandringham House in Norfolk has been the private home of four generations of Sovereigns since 1862. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family regularly spend Christmas at Sandringham and make it their official base until February each year. Like Balmoral, the Sandringham Estate is a commercial estate managed privately on The Queen's behalf. Sandringham House, the museum and the grounds are open to visitors.

Unoccupied Royal residences are all other buildings in Great Britain which once housed members of the Royal Family and are therefore of historical interest. These buildings are owned by numerous bodies and individuals and many are open to the general public.

The Historic Royal Palaces are a specific set of former Royal residences which are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation and run by an independent charity known as Historical Royal Palaces. These palaces are: the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.

The Tower of London was founded in 1078 when William the Conqueror ordered the White Tower to be built inside the city walls, adjacent to the Thames. Since then, it has been used as a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison. Some of its most famous inmates include Lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh and Thomas More. The building has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The Banqueting House The only remaining part of Whitehall Palace, the Banqueting House is known as the site outside which King Charles I was executed on a scaffold. The building was designed by Inigo Jones in 1619.

Kew Palace Queen Charlotte and their 15 children enjoyed family life at Kew Palace (despite its name, it is the size of a manor house rather than a palace) and in its later years, it became a retreat for an ailing King George III. The Royal Residences are: Buckingham Palace, The Royal Mews, Windsor Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Frogmore, St. James's Palace, Clarence House, Kensington Palace. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every year.

The Royal Mews is an important branch of the Lord Chamberlain's Office and provides road transport for the Queen and members of the Royal Family by both horse-drawn carriage and motor car. It is at the Royal Mews that the State vehicles are housed and maintained. These include the magnificent Gold State Coach used for Coronations and those carriages used for Royal and State occasions, State Visits, Weddings and the State Opening of Parliament.

Since 1843 the daily messenger Brougham has set out from the Royal Mews to collect and deliver post between Buckingham Palace and St. James's Palace. Another regular task is that of collecting a newly appointed foreign Ambassadors or High Commissioners from their official residence, conveying them in a carriage to Buckingham Palace for their audience with The Queen, and afterwards returning them to their residence.

Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen and the largest occupied castle in the world. A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, the Castle remains a working palace today. The Queen uses the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties.

Every year The Queen takes up official residence in Windsor Castle for a month over Easter (March-April), known as Easter Court. During that time The Queen hosts occasional 'dine and sleeps' events for guests, including politicians and public figures. The Queen is also in residence for a week in June, when she attends the service of the Order of the Garter and the Royal Ascot race meeting.

Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is The Queen's official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is closely associated with Scotland's turbulent past, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made the Palace of Holyroodhouse the premier royal residence in Scotland. Today, the Palace is the setting for State ceremonies and official entertaining.

Frogmore House lies in the tranquil setting of the private Home Park of Windsor Castle. A country residence of various monarchs since the seventeenth century, the house is especially linked to Queen Victoria. The house and attractive gardens were one of Queen Victoria's favorite retreats. In the gardens stands the Mausoleum where Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert are buried. Today, Frogmore House is no longer a Royal residence, but the house and gardens are sometimes used by the Royal Family for official purposes such as receptions.

St. James's Palace is the senior Palace of the Sovereign, with a long history as a Royal residence. As the home of several members of the Royal Family and their household offices, it is often in use for official functions and is not open to the public.

Clarence House, which stands beside St James's Palace, was built between 1825 and 1827 to the designs of John Nash for Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence. He lived there as King William IV from 1830 until 1837. During its history, the house has been altered, reflecting the changes in occupancy over nearly two centuries.

It was the London home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1953 until 2002 and was also the home of The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and The Duke of Edinburgh following their marriage in 1947. Today Clarence House is the official London residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, and Princes William and Harry. It is open to the public during the summer months each year.

Kensington Palace in London is a working Royal residence. Of great historical importance, Kensington Palace was the favorite residence of successive sovereigns until 1760. It was also the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria. Today Kensington Palace accommodates the offices and private apartments of a number of members of the Royal Family. Although managed by Historic Royal Palaces, the Palace is furnished with items from the Royal Collection.

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