The LawThe Law

You are here: Home » The Law » Public Law » Crown Prerogative

Crown Prerogative

Public Law

The crown prerogative is that special pre-eminence which the monarch has over and above all other persons by virtue of the common law. The crown prerogative derives from the absolute power of the medieval monarch, under which the King combined all the powers of government. The royal prerogative has a constitutional lineage that spans 1,000 years. In the seventeenth century, conflicts occurred over royalist assertions that the King's absolute powers were unlimited and that no statute could take them away. The Revolution Settlement ended claims of an absolute and inalienable prerogative and established Parliament's supremacy over the Crown. Parliament can, through express or clear words, abolish, restrict, or qualify the exercise of prerogative power. Since the seventeenth century, the growth of constitutional liberties has paralleled the reduction of the Crown's discretionary power and the grant of parliamentary protections to the subject. The major part of modern government is carried out under statutory powers by ministers (or departmental officials in the name of ministers), who are responsible to Parliament for their policies and the conduct of their departments.

The prerogative represents "a bundle of miscellaneous rights and powers". It comprises the residue of the Crown's original discretionary powers to perform acts of government that have not been abrogated by statute or eroded by judicial decision, or fallen into neglect or disuse. The royal prerogative extends to all parts of the Commonwealth of which the Queen is head of state.

BACK TO TOP