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What Does the British Monarchy Do Today?

Parliament rules Britain – but the royal family is still around.

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When the thirteen colonies of British America declared their independence from King George III, it led to the Revolutionary War. The American leaders wanted to be free from rule of monarchs and create their own fate. We know what happened to the colonies, but what became of the king and his line?

During the 16th and 17th centuries, a king was believed to be appointed by God. Therefore, any decision he made was considered automatically right. Any rebellion against him was considered a rebellion against God. But those days were already coming to an end when the Revolution occurred.

The English Parliament was formed in 1215. The Parliament of Scotland was established in 1235. Since the signing of the Magna Carta in the year 1215, power was slowly taken from the monarch and given to the Parliament. Eventually, in 1707, the British Parliament was created from this tradition with the joining of the countries of the British Isles. The Parliament is embodied in the House of Commons and the House of Lords – the two chambers of government. They’re similar in some ways to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. While the House of Commons is made up of ministers elected by the people, the House of Lords is filled with “lords,” who are either born into the position or appointed.

In 1688, the English Parliament Removed King James II and replaced him with William III. From that point on, the royals answered to the Parliament.

The king was left with just two real powers. The first was that he could appoint ministers. The second was that he could veto any law passed by Parliament. However, the power of royal veto hasn’t been used since 1708. Today’s monarch does, however, still play two useful roles:

  1. When no side is able to form a majority in the Parliament, he or she can give strong “advice” on appointing a caretaker government.
  2. If the Prime Minister loses a vote of no confidence and refuses to step aside, the king or queen could dismiss the person (although they would only do so with the consent of Parliament).

After splitting in 1776, Britain and the U.S. continued to evolve on their own – but both have ended up following a path similar to many nations in the years since.

Today, the British have a similar relationship with their government as Americans. They vote, and sometimes they stand for office. Despite the split between the two nations all those years ago, the governments and the people have gone in a similar direction.

Mark Angelides is Managing Editor of Liberty and Hailing from the UK, he specializes in EU politics and provides a conservative/libertarian voice on all things from across the pond. During the Brexit Referendum campaign, Mark worked to promote activism, spread the message and secure victory. He is the editor and publisher of several books on Ancient Chinese poetry.

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