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Old 05-20-2018, 10:49 PM
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Last Consequential Decision by a British Monarch?

This is a serious question, not meant to bait anyone or to start an argument about republicanism. When was the last time a British King or Queen made an important decision that affected anything beyond the status of the monarchy? I am not talking about high-profile symbolic gestures, like violating norms by allowing Neville Chamberlain to wave to the people from the palace balcony after the Munich Agreement, but actual decisions.

To illustrate, here are two 20th century cases I can think of:

1. George V agreeing to create hundreds of Liberal peers if necessary in order to force the House of Lords to approve the Parliament Act in 1911.

2. George V appointing Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister in 1923 when there was no real Conservative Party leader and he could have picked Lord Curzon.

I know the King/Queen still appoints the Prime Minister and in theory could withhold assent from a bill, but these are formalities nowadays. Are there any post-1923 examples in which the monarch clearly had discretion and made an important decision?
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:06 PM
XeniaCasaraghi's Avatar
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I'm going to have to say it must have been George V. He was the last one to be monarch before they became truly figure heads.
Maybe you could argue that George VI deciding to become King was a monumental decision, but I think that falls in more with a decision that affects the monarchy not the larger community.
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:06 PM
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As a constitutional monarch, they don't usually make any real decisions. That is the point, they aren't meant to. The British queen is meant to remain out of politics, as is the rest of the family. That is why there was concern about Meghan and her interest in feminism. Some people think that is too 'political' though others like Camilla are involved in similar topics.

The queen does have the right not only to appoint a prime minister but also remove one/dismiss parliament. Well her Governor General does. But this doesn't usually happen.

There are 2 times that the power has been flexed, in Canada and Australia.

Canada
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King–Byng_affair

Australia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_A...utional_crisis

The Australian saw the removal of the Prime minister.
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:41 PM
Purrs's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Countessmeout View Post
The queen does have the right not only to appoint a prime minister but also remove one/dismiss parliament. Well her Governor General does. But this doesn't usually happen.

There are 2 times that the power has been flexed, in Canada...

Canada
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King–Byng_affair

As well -

I can't speak about Britain but in Canada, the Queen (through the Governor General) does have the right to prorogue Parliament (discontinue the session) upon the advice of the Prime Minister. This is different than a recess or adjournment (which are temporary suspensions) and dissolution (which means the session AND that parliament end requiring an election for the House of Commons.) It has happened a number of times in Canada (last time nationally was 2009) and it is controversial. There have been calls for reform and complaints that it has been used for political purposes (ie. to avoid a nonconfidence motion or embarrassing questions for the government).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prorogation_in_Canada

In Britain, (please correct me if I'm wrong) it looks to me like prorogation is quite different and in modern times is done as the routine ending of one session of parliament with another one beginning shortly. It does not seem to carry the controversy it has in Canada.

https://www.parliament.uk/about/livi...1/prorogation/
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:41 AM
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Two times the Governor or GG has also exercised that power in Australia:

1932 - Governor Philip Game, representing George V, dismissed the State Premier, Jack Lang over his refusal to pay the interest on the NSW had had from Britain. How much direct involvement George V had isn't always clear but he was certainly informed before the decision was made.

1977 - the GG, Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government. There are still legal matters around this event and the involvement/knowledge of the Queen directly in that decision being made here. It was the real start of the republican push here.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XeniaCasaraghi View Post
I'm going to have to say it must have been George V. He was the last one to be monarch before they became truly figure heads.
Maybe you could argue that George VI deciding to become King was a monumental decision, but I think that falls in more with a decision that affects the monarchy not the larger community.
geo VI did not deciding to become king. He was next in line when his brother abdicated.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Countessmeout View Post
As The British queen is meant to remain out of politics, as is the rest of the family. That is why there was concern about Meghan and her interest in feminism. Some people think that is too 'political' though others like Camilla are involved in similar topics.
Camilla is dealing wth these women's issues from a humanitarian point of view... Meghan seems to be have been more of a "feminist activist" on these issues...
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Old 05-21-2018, 04:36 AM
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There was the rather contentious decision made by the Queen in the Spring of 1957 to appoint Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister over his rival Rab Butler. Butler was generally expected to succeed Anthony Eden as PM (Eden having resigned for health reasons) but Macmillan was chosen by the Queen after she consulted various elder statesmen in the Conservative Party including Winston Churchill.

Eden apparently gave no formal advice to the Queen about a successor, but had expressed a preference for Butler.
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Old 05-22-2018, 09:13 PM
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I have always seen the 1977 move in Australia as a positive reason to uphold our Constitutional Monarchy. The intervention took the decision back to a vote of the people. It was an example of how the G.G. is a back stop against a corrupt government.

I'd like the 1932, Jack Lang, situation explained more. It is before my time and I have never seen reference to it before. Could you fill me in please Iluvbertie?

Actually, I just looked that up, Iluvbertie, and I note that the result was, again, an election at which the people overwhelmingly kept Lang from returning. I also note that both people involved expressed that they personally liked the other and proper, serious thought was put into the decision before the Governor was called to intervene. So I see that example showing how an important safe guarding is useful, necessary and is rarely used.
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