Minister of the Crown

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Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a minister to the reigning sovereign or their viceroy. The term indicates that the minister serves at His/Her Majesty's pleasure , and advises the sovereign or viceroy on how to exercise the Crown prerogatives relative to the minister's department or ministry.

Commonwealth realm Sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II or her successors as its monarch

A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in which Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning constitutional monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent co-equal kingdom from the other realms. As of 2019, there are 16 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All 16 Commonwealth realms are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states. Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.

A viceroy is an official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roy, meaning "king". A viceroy's territory may be called a viceroyalty, though this term is not always applied. The adjective form is viceregal, less often viceroyal. The term vicereine is sometimes used to indicate a female viceroy suo jure, although viceroy can serve as a gender-neutral term. Vicereine is more commonly used to indicate a viceroy's wife.

At Her Majesty's pleasure is a legal term of art referring to the indeterminate or undetermined length of service of certain appointed officials or the indeterminate sentences of some prisoners. It is based on the concept that all legitimate authority for government comes from the Crown. Originating in the United Kingdom, it is now used throughout the Commonwealth realms. In realms where the monarch is represented by a governor-general, governor or administrator, the phrase may be modified to be at the Governor's pleasure, since the governor-general, governor, lieutenant governor or administrator is the Queen's personal representative in the country, state or province.

Contents

Ministries

In Commonwealth realms, the sovereign or viceroy is formally advised by a larger body known as a privy council or executive council, though, in practice, they are advised by a subset of such councils: the collective body of ministers of the Crown called the ministry. The ministry should not be confused with the cabinet, as ministers of the Crown may be outside a cabinet.

A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on state affairs.

An executive council in Commonwealth constitutional practice based on the Westminster system is a constitutional organ which exercises executive power and (notionally) advises the governor or governor-general. Executive councils often make decisions via Orders in Council.

In constitutional usage in Commonwealth realms and in some other systems, a ministry is a collective body of government ministers headed by a prime minister or premier, and also referred to as the head of government. It is described by the Oxford Dictionary as "a period of government under one prime minister". Although the term "cabinet" can in some circumstances be a synonym, a ministry can be a broader concept which might include office-holders who do not participate in cabinet meetings. Other titles can include "administration" or "government" to describe similar collectives.

History

Ministers of the Crown in Commonwealth realms have their roots in early modern England, where monarchs sometimes employed "cabinet councils" consisting of Ministers to advise the monarch and implemented his decisions. The term Minister came into being as the sovereign's advisors "ministered to", or served, the king. Over time, former ministers and other distinguished persons were retained as peripheral advisers with designated ministers having the direct ear of the king. This led to the creation of the larger Privy Council, with the Cabinet becoming a committee within that body, made up of currently serving Ministers, who also were heads of departments.

The early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages of the post-classical era. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the post-classical age, known as the Middle Ages, through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions and is variously demarcated by historians as beginning with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Renaissance period in Europe, the Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent, and the Age of Discovery and ending around the French Revolution in 1789.

Cabinet (government) Group of high ranking officials, usually representing the executive branch of government

A cabinet is a body of high-ranking state officials, typically consisting of the top leaders of the executive branch. Members of a cabinet are usually called cabinet ministers or secretaries. The function of a cabinet varies: in some countries it is a collegiate decision-making body with collective responsibility, while in others it may function either as a purely advisory body or an assisting institution to a decision making head of state or head of government. Cabinets are typically the body responsible for the day-to-day management of the government and response to sudden events, whereas the legislative and judicial branches work in a measured pace, in sessions according to lengthy procedures.

During a period between the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603 and the unification of Scotland and England in 1707, the two entities separate "countries" in personal union through the one monarch who was advised by two separate sets of Ministers of the Crown for each country. As the English overseas possessions and later British Empire expanded, the colonial governments remained subordinate to the imperial government at Westminster, and thus the Crown was still ministered to only by the Imperial Privy Council, made up of British Ministers of the Crown. When Canada became a Dominion in 1867, however, a separate Canadian Privy Council was established to advise the Canadian Governor General on the exercise of the Crown prerogative in Canada, although constitutionally the viceroy remained an agent of the British government at Whitehall.

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Acts of Union 1707 Acts of Parliament creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain

The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland—which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch—were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain".

A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some extent interlinked, such as by sharing some limited governmental institutions. In a federation and a unitary state, a central (federal) government spanning all member states exists, with the degree of self-governance distinguishing the two. The ruler in a personal union does not need to be a hereditary monarch.

After that date, other colonies of the empire attained Dominion status and similar arrangements were made. Following the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, however, the dominions became effectively autonomous kingdoms under one sovereign, thus returning the monarch to a position similar to that which existed pre-1707, where he or she was ministered to by separate ministries and cabinets for each respective realm or colony. Thus, today, no Minister of the Crown in any Commonwealth realm can advise the monarch to exercise any powers pertaining to any of the other dominions.

Statute of Westminster 1931 United Kingdom legislation

The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom whose modified versions are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. Passed on 11 December 1931, the act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926. As the statute removed nearly all of the British parliament's authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions largely sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.

Uses in other countries

In Spain, during the "Restauración" period (1874-1931) the term Minister of the Crown (Spanish: Ministro de la Corona) was used for the people who was in charge of a ministerial department of His Majesty's Government. For example, in times of King Alfonso XIII when Carlos María Cortezo y Prieto de Orche was appointed as "Ministro de Instrucción Pública y Bellas Artes" (minister of education), in the royal decree it was noted that he was a minister of the Crown. [1]

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Restoration (Spain) Period in the history of Spain, 1874–1931

The Restoration, or Bourbon Restoration, is the name given to the period that began on 29 December 1874 — after a coup d'état by Martínez Campos ended the First Spanish Republic and restored the monarchy under Alfonso XII — and ended on 14 April 1931 with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic.

Spanish or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 450 million native speakers in Spain and the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.


See also

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The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy, as belonging to the sovereign and which have become widely vested in the government. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and vested in a monarch with regard to the process of governance of the state, are carried out.

References

  1. "Royal decree of March 9, 1925" (PDF).