The Royal Prerogative in UK Legal System

The Royal Prerogative! An important aspect of the United Kingdom constitutional history is the relationship between the monarch and Parliament. Prerogative powers are created in common law system and are thus not codified in any form. The powers of the monarch are limited; however, this is not the case in all cases.

Throughout the United Kingdom’s constitutional history, the relationship between the monarch and Parliament has been subject to change. Since the existence of the Royal prerogative in the 17th century was established when the King was the Chief Executive; when the relationship between the ruler and rules was established upon a form of contractual agreement. There was also an important essential religious element to the Kings powers; the implication of existed that the King’s leadership would conform to Christian beliefs and obligations.

The Royal prerogative:

personal and political prerogative powers cover those areas that the monarch used to be able exercise without any kind further authorisation or consultation. Such kind of powers reflected the areas which were covered by prerogative powers: foreign affairs, national defence and national security as well as appointing certain office holders and granting honours. Prerogative powers are created in common law system so are not codified in any form, as a result, they are not always easy to discern. Constitutional conventions which are non-legal practices running have been established over time to place limits upon prerogative powers. These conventions are also considered to be due for reforms.

Few Examples of the Royal Prerogative

The legislature and legislation

The opening and dissolution of UK Parliament and providing royal assent to legislation.

Including the PM and the senior judiciary in UK.

Courts and the justice system

Prerogative or mercy and the Attorney General’s representative of the Crown in legal proceedings in UK.

Foreign affairs

Including the issue of passports, the signing of treaties, the recognition of diplomats and foreign states in UK.


including the deployment of forces abroad, acts as commander in chief of armed forces in UK

Emergency powers related to national security in United Kingdom.

Charter Creation of bodies

Including universities and professional bodies in UK.

Prerogative powers are able of being abolished expressly or by implication through Statute. Frequently the legislature has not abolished powers but has created a statutory regime dealing with the same subject. Some prerogative powers, such as the dissolution of the legislature are unlikely to give rise to challenge in the courts. Where prerogative powers directly affect the rights of an individual the courts might be required to adjudge disputes between parties.

Calls for the reform of prerogative powers have been made since the 1980s and 1990s in UK. No interest was shown in the reform of the prerogative powers during the Blair government (1997-2007) in UK. That Progress was made during Gordon Brown’s time period in office, but since the Coalition government of 2010 – 2015 and then the Conservative government of 2015, no further progress has been made in UK. Despite widespread support for reform, the implementation of such reforms has proved complex due to the wide-ranging scope of prerogative powers in UK.

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