Could Queen Elizabeth stop an African despot?

My knowledge of the English constitution and monarchy is pretty much limited to watching “The Queen” twice, so fight some of my ignorance. If this has already happened, forgive my ignorance.

On a recent episode of “Monarchy,” Queen Elizabeth was hosting the Ghanaian head of government, and it was noted that Queen Elizabeth is queen of Ghana, and presumably of other African commonwealth nations (Kenya, perhaps?). Since the British weren’t known for sensitivity to tribal boundaries as they carved up Africa, seems like the situation could arise where a murderous dictator comes to power in one of these nations, bent on genocide of 40% of his country. (I suppose that could also happen in New Zealand, but the African example seems historically more likely).

My question is whether the queen could do anything to stop him. Refuse to recognize his government? Dissolve the nation’s parliament? Send in the British Armed Forces to enforce her orders?

Elizabeth II is no longer queen of any place in Africa, and hasn’t been since 1971. (OK, technically she was Queen of Mauritius–an island in the Indian Ocean–until 1992.) And I seriously doubt she could stop a despot in any of the places she is currently queen of–the would-be dictator would be actually there in the country and presumably would have the loyalty of the army, some militia or other armed group, or some other power base. Any attempt to “interfere in the internal affairs” of the Commonwealth-realm-turned-dictatorship would just result in the proclamation of a “republic” with the dictator as “president” (with the “for life” being understood if not actually officially proclaimed).

See also the 1987 coup(s) in Fiji.

What if she had access to a time machine and a case of AK-47s?

Too late. She popped out of existence when Eric the Red used a time machine and a Kalashnikov to knock off King Alfred.
BBC News 25 June 2008

For a “murderous dictator comes to power in one of these nations, bent on genocide of 40% of his country” you couldn’t get a much closer job description than Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe’s independence was recognised in April 1980 (but as noted above, they were still accepting British honours) but this would be about the limit of the royal displeasure that could be applied to any current or former Commonwealth country, and even this would have been on advise from her Prime Minister.

The queen is mightier than the despot, but only if the despot is very small and the queen’s knighting sword has a proper edge on it.

Both Ghana and Kenya are members of the Commonwealth, but they are republics. The Queen is Head of the Commonwealth, but does not have any role in the government of republics which are members of the Commonwealth.

Decisions about recognition of foreign governments and the use of the British Armed Forces are made by the Prime British Minister and Cabinet. The Queen does not have independent decision-making powers. With respect to dissolution, since Ghana is a republic, the Queen does not have any power to dissolve its parliament.

It’s possible to get expelled from the Commonwealth. But that’s about it, and the Queen personally wouldn’t have much say in it.

So no chance of her helping out at the Alamo, either. :frowning:


I’ll reverse Eric the Red’s trip downtime just to see what Betty looks like in a coon-skin hat.

A canary yellow, or shocking pink coon-skin hat, no doubt.

The Queen has the unilateral power to declare war*, so she could say “Stop doing that, or we will declare war on you!” That might stop a despot, though those types usually aren’t very reasonable.

More realistic might be to find higher-ups in his government, and encourage them to overthrow him in a coup. Offer UK support if they promise to be less despotic when they take over. (She could always ask the CIA for advice on this – they’ve done it several times, sometimes even successfully.)
*Technically, she can do so without even consulting Parliament or their leaders. And she could order military units to take action. But it hasn’t been done that way for centuries. If Parliament objected, it could become a government crisis.