Head of State and Parliament
Produced in partnership with Adam Cygan of University of Leicester and Mr Darragh Connell of Forum Chambers

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Adam Cygan of University of Leicester and Mr Darragh Connell of Forum Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Head of State and Parliament
  • Who is the Head of State?
  • Relationship with Parliament
  • Constitutional conventions
  • Advice convention
  • Tripartite convention
  • Confidentiality
  • Royal prerogative
  • State Opening of Parliament
  • Dissolution of Parliament
  • More...

Head of State and Parliament

IP COMPLETION DAY: The Brexit transition period ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020. At this time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), transitional arrangements ended and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: What does IP completion day mean for public law?

Who is the Head of State?

The monarch is Head of State and is formally:

  1. the Supreme Executive Officer of the State

  2. the Supreme Governor of the Church of England

  3. titular commander-in-chief of the three branches of the armed forces (army, navy, and air force) and

  4. the source of justice and of all titles of honour, distinctions and dignities

Foreign affairs, including international treaty-making powers and declarations of war and peace are conducted in the monarch’s name by the executive. This is referred to as the exercise of the royal prerogative (see below). In the absence of a single written constitution, the Crown operates as a symbol for the State with the monarch acting as a figurehead in performing substantive ceremonial duties, such as the State opening of Parliament.

Relationship with Parliament

The Crown’s dependence on its people is represented through its relationship with Parliament. Originally the monarch exercised the supreme executive, legislative and judicial power of the

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