Powers of European Royalty

I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile: How much power do Kings and Queens in Europe have? I guess this breaks down into four specific questions:

  1. Are there any places in Europe whose country’s military is vested within a single monarch? What about the crown having to co-approve military operations with a Prime Minister or elected representative? Can a monarch declare war against another country without the aid and consent of a legislative body?

  2. Do European monarchs hold press conferences or publically espouse political or personal beliefs? I mean, for example, would Queen Beatrix ever say something contraversial like “I think Germany should’ve paid us for the restoration of Rotterdam” or Queen Elizabeth quipping, “The Iraq War is just dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.”

  3. Do European Queens and Kings have veto power over laws that the legislature passes or introduces? Can a monarch stop or prevent laws from being passed if s/he is ideologically opposed to it?

  4. What powers does the Queen of England have over Canada? How does the Queen intertwine with Canadian politics if the Canadian government itself is democratic.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

When Parliament starts Queen Elizabeth reads a speech about policy but from what I have read it is written for her by the prime minister (or his staff.) Also she does not vote in elections even though she can. She generally does not talk at all in public about politics. I guess she can tell her close friends and relatives what she thinks. She can’t veto laws.

X-ray vision?

I keed! I keed!

Actually…no power, in practice.

None. This said, the Queen of Canada is officially the Head of State of Canada, and so her representative in Canada (the Governor General) is the person who officially designates the prime minister. Of course, she must choose someone who can get the confidence of the House, and there are so many constitutional precedents that she has no personal say in the matter, she must follow convention.

ETA: The Queen of the UK and the Queen of Canada are of course two offices held by the same person, but they are legally separate persons. There could be a case where the Queen of Canada would be required to take an action (following her prime minister’s advice) and the Queen of the UK would be required to protest it (following her prime minister’s advice), or the other way around.

I know the British monarch doesn’t say what her political opinions publicly. She discusses weekly with the prime minister, so he probably has some idea. I assume the same is true with most other European kingdoms. Maybe some of the smaller countries that used to be absolute monarchies more recently (Liechtenstein?) have different customs.

Most of the time bills require royal assent to become law. It is politically impossible for the monarch to actually refuse it. I believe there was a case in Belgium where the King considered that giving royal assent to the law legalizing abortion was against his religious beliefs, so the government suspended him, gave royal assent to the law in its capacity as a sort of “regency council”, and then reinstated the King.

For the UK:

  1. The UK military swears allegiance to the Queen. She is theoretically their CiC. She makes no military decisions, and absolutely cannot declare war without the approval of Parliament.

  2. Never.

  3. In theory the monarch has the power to prevent laws from being passed, in that the final stage of legislation is Royal Assent. I don’t think it would be practically possible for the Queen to do this, and if she values the future of the monarchy she would be wise not to try.

  4. The Queen of “England” (by which you mean the UK, don’t noise up the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irelanders) has no power at all over Canada. But the role of Queen of Canada is held by the same person. The powers she has in Canada are a matter for the Canadians, and they are perfectly free to remove her as monarch of their country if they so choose.

A Canadian would have to tell you what the specific role she has in their country, but it is not correct to assume that the fact we share a monarch implies that the UK has some sort of political control over Canada.

And I apologise for that last sentence.

This goes for Sweden as well. Except you change the she to a he.

Elizabeth II has not and will never give a press conference or even an interview with a journalist. She’s far more traditional than any of her continental cousins. Margrethe II of Denmark on the other hand is one of Europe’s most progressive monarchs and regulay holds press conference and grant’s interviews. What she doesn’t do is say anything political.

In theory most of them do need to grant assent to laws, but it’d be a major crisis if they refused. Back in the 90s the King of the Belgians (a devout Catholic) refused to assent to a law allowing abortion and the cabinet had to declare him unable to reign and act as a regency council for a day. Recently the Grand Duke of Luxembourg (also a Catholic) told his government he couldn’t assent to a bill on euthanasia. The government then annouced plans to strip the Grand Duke of this power. Some monarchs, like the King of Sweden, don’t have this power at all.

No, absolutely not–not in any of them. Every European monarchy is a democracy. The monarchs act on the advice of their ministers in all cases. The ministers in turn must maintain the support of an elected Parliament.

No, none of them can do that. Even if they have the power to veto laws on paper, they would exercise it only on the advice of their ministers, and ministers don’t advise vetos of laws passed by the Parliament to which they answer.

Wait. Come again? The government suspended the King?! :eek: Then what is the purpose of having a King in Belgium?

If UK military swears allegiance to the Queen, will they obey her orders over Prime Minister Gordon? Can Britain declare war without approval of the Monarch?

Ok, this makes more sense. So the monarch always supports the Prime Minister, right? Is this support generally unwavering?

APB’s your man for British constitutional stuff, but that won’t stop me sticking my oar in:

  1. I don’t exactly understand what you mean about a country’s military being vested in a single monarch. A monarch is a single ruler, by definition. That’s what the “mon” part means :). Apart from that, question 1 is covered by the other questions.

  2. Absolutely not. Even the mildest expression of opinion would cause eyebrows to be raised. Prince Charles, who isn’t even king yet, has occasionally got into trouble on this point.

  3. The British monarch has the power of veto, in theory. All laws must be approved by the monarch. But the last time royal assent was withheld was 300 years ago, and even then it was not just the monarch acting on a personal whim. It would be unthinkable these days. I believe that in other western European constitutional monarchies, the monarch doesn’t even have theoretical legislative powers.

  4. I’ll defer to Canadian Dopers. But I would point out that she is the Queen of Canada, an office that is distinct from her also being Queen of the United Kingdom (not “Queen of England”).

They used a constitutional provision originally intended to be used in case the King went insane or fell into a coma.

The answer to what powers the Queen has is in pretty much all cases, “She has plenty of theoretical powers, but no practical ones”. It’s a charade that everyone is in on. Should the Queen actually attempt to use any of the powers she is presumed to have, depending upon the seriousness of the use in question, very likely the government would be in session in the next 10 minutes working on laws to stop her doing so.

In theory, she has vast powers - in practice, she has none at all, and the only effect of her attempting to use them would be to have even the appearance of power removed from her.

It’s not “generally” unwavering, at least in the UK. The monarch cannot act unilaterally. The elected representatives are in charge, and the Queen does what they tell her to do.

I’m grossly oversimplifying here, but that’s the basic idea.

ETA: What Revenant Threshold said.

I was under the impression that in the UK declaring war was traditionally one of the prerogatives of the King, not of Parliament; and that therefore in the modern era the government (Prime Minister and Cabinet) would be in charge of declaring war, not Parliament (the House of Commons)–that is, the Queen would declare war “on the advice of” her ministers who make up the government.

Wikipedia backs this up, although it looks like there are proposals to change this to require Parliamentary approval.

This may be technically correct, we’d need a UK constitutional expert to answer. But the key words are “on the advice of her ministers”. The English, and subsequently the British, have gone to quite some lengths to ensure that taking such advice is not optional.

The Pope is an absolute monarch, and I understand that Hans-Adam II of Liechtensteinsecured a large expansion of his powers.

Officially, yes, she supports the PM. At least publicly. Privately, she may feel otherwise, and might in private, say that to others in the government.

For example, I understand Elizabeth II despised Margaret Thacher, considered her excessively authoritarian, and disagreed with much of her policies. But she never said that publicly.

Of course, but my point was, as best I can tell, the only peope’s advice she would have to seek would be the Prime Minister and cabinet–not the House of Commons as a whole.

Since the PM and cabinet are responsible to Parliament, you don’t get divided governments the way you can here in the US (with the possibility of a President of one party, even while the other party controls Congress), so this is less important than it would be over here. Nonetheless, in the UK, declarations of war are done by the (indirectly) (democratically-elected) executive branch, not by the legislative branch.

IIRC, Churchill made some comment about this, to the effect he was able to declare war on Japan even before we could, because he didn’t have to go through the formality of running it past the legislature first.

I think the Prince of Monaco also has a rather active role in government.