The Role of the MonarchyMonarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom. In a monarchy, a king or queen is Head of State. The British monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. This means that, while The Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament. Although the British Sovereign no longer has a political or executive role, he or she continues to play an important part in the life of the nation. As Head of State, The Monarch undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. In addition to these State duties, The Monarch has a less formal role as 'Head of Nation'. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognises success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.
In all these role The Sovereign is supported by members of their immediate family.
Symbols of the MonarchyFlags, stamps and coins all represent the Crown in different ways, while symbols such as the Crown Jewels exert a powerful fascination. With the passage of years, the history and meaning of many of these symbols has become obscured. Find out more about Royal symbols and their origins in this section: The principal symbol of the Monarchy is often deemed to be the Sovereign themselves. However, throughout the history of the Monarchy the authority of the Sovereign has been represented by symbols.
The Royal Coats of Arms
The most notable symbols of Monarchy are the Crown Jewels and regalia, the Honours of Scotland and the Principality of Wales. Lesser known symbols include the Great Seal and personal emblems of the Monarch such as the Royal Standard and Coats of Arms.
Even buildings such asBuckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouseare often said to be a physical representation of the Monarchy.
Bucking ham Palace - the Queen's official and main royal London home
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Items such as the Crown Jewels, and especially the regalia, represent the continuity of the Monarchy. The regalia forms an integral part in the Coronation service for a new Sovereign and certain elements of the Crown Jewels are born before the Sovereign at the State Opening of Parliament. The Queen wears the Imperial State Crown as she delivers the speech.
The Honours of Scotland
Imperial State Crown
The image of the Monarch is also seen as a symbol of the Monarchy with The Queen represented on items such as bank notes and stamps. Such images have been used for hundreds of years with images on Kings, Queens and Emperors being used on coins throughout Europe. Even ceremonies such as the Trooping of the Colour are seen as important symbols of the Monarchy.
The Queen is Head of State in the United Kingdom. As a constitutional monarch, Her Majesty does not 'rule' the country, but fulfils important ceremonial and formal roles with respect to Government. She is also Fount of Justice, Head of the Armed Forces and has important relationships with the established Churches of England and Scotland. Read more about The Queen's State roles in the UK and Crown dependencies in this section. Members of the Royal Family support The Queen in her many State and national duties, as well as carrying out important work in the areas of public and charitable service, and helping to strengthen national unity and stability.
Members of the Royal Family
Those who undertake official duties are members of The Queen's close family: her children and their spouses, and The Queen's cousins (the children of King George VI's brothers) and their spouses. Younger members of the Royal Family who are presently in education or military training such as Prince William and Prince Harry - do not undertake official duties full-time, but often play a role in important national events and commemorations.Prince Harry on patrol in Garmsir
Every year the Royal Family as a whole carries out over 2,000 official engagements throughout the UK and worldwide.
These engagements may include official State responsibilities. Members of the Royal Family often carry out official duties in the UK and abroad where The Queen cannot be present in person. The Prince of Wales and The Princess Royal, for example, may present members of the public with their honours at an Investiture. When official events such as receptions, State banquets and garden parties are held, the Royal Family supports The Queen in making her guests welcome. Members of the Royal Family also often represent The Queen and the nation in Commonwealth or other countries, at events such as State funerals or national festivities, or through longer visits to strengthen Britain's diplomatic and economic relations. The Royal Family also plays an important role in supporting and encouraging the public and charity sectors. About 3,000 organisations list a member of the Royal Family as patron or president. The huge range of these organisations - covering every subject from education to the environment, hospitals to housing - allows members of the Royal Family to meet people from a wide spectrum of national and local life, and to understand their interests, problems and concerns. Finally, the Royal Family as a whole plays a role in strengthening national unity. Members of the Royal Family are able to recognise and participate in community and local events in every part of the UK, from the opening of new buildings to celebrations or acts of commemoration.
The Queen working by herself would be unable to attend every engagement to which she is invited. Members of the Royal Family
can undertake local or specialist engagements which would otherwise have to be declined.
---The Queen on the day of her Coronation, 2 june 1953
British monarchy timeline
Timeline of the Kings and Queens of England from 1066 to 1603 The Normans(1066 - 1154)
Plantagenets 1154-1216 1216-1399 The House of Lancaster (1399 - 1461) The House of York (1461 - 1485)
The Tudors (1485 -1603) Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom from 1603 to the present day
The Stuarts (1603 - 1649) (1660 - 1714) The House of Hanoverians (1714 -1901) Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and The Windsors (1901 -1910) (1910 - Today) Interesting Fact: The only time when there was no King or Queen in Britain was when the country was a republic between 1649 and 1660. (In 1649 King Charles I was executed and Britain became a Republic for eleven years. The monarchy was restored in 1660.) The Normans
The Normans were descendants of Vikings who had settled by force in North East France around the mouth of the Seine River. The land they occupied became known as Normandy. (The name Normandy comes from the French normand, meaning Norsemen and Normans) The Plantagenets
The Plantagenets were a huge powerful family not just in England but throughout Europe. The first Plantagenet was King Henry 2nd whose father owned vast lands in Anjou an area as big as Normandy around the modern town of Tours. Henrys wife Eleanor ruled the even larger territory to the south called Aquitaine. Plantagenet Kings were thus the richest family in Europe and ruled England and half of France. Their name came from planta genista, the Latin for yellow broom flower, which the Counts of Anjou wore as an emblem on their helmets.
The accession of Henry IV sowed the seeds for a period of unrest which ultimately broke out in civil war. Fraught by rebellion and instability after his usurpation of Richard II, Henry IV found it difficult to enforce his rule. His son, Henry V, fared better, defeating France in the famous Battle of Agincourt (1415) and staking a powerful claim to the French throne. Success was short-lived with his early death. By the reign of the relatively weak Henry VI, civil war broke out
between rival claimants to the throne, dating back to the sons of Edward III. The Lancastrian dynasty descended from John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III, whose son Henry deposed the unpopular Richard II. Yorkist claimants such as the Duke of York asserted their legitimate claim to the throne through Edward III's second surviving son, but through a female line. The Wars of the Roses therefore tested whether the succession should keep to the male line or could pass through females. Captured and briefly restored, Henry VI was captured and put to death, and the Yorkist faction led by Edward IV gained the throne
The Yorkist conquest of the Lancastrians in 1461 did not put an end to the Wars of the Roses, which rumbled on until the start of the sixteenth century. Family disloyalty in the form of Richard III's betrayal of his nephews, the young King Edward V and his brother, was part of his downfall. Henry Tudor, a claimant to the throne of Lancastrian descent, defeated Richard III in battle and Richard was killed. With the marriage of Henry to Elizabeth, the sister of the young Princes in the Tower, reconciliation was finally achieved between the warring houses of Lancaster and York in the form of the new Tudor dynasty, which combined their respective red and white emblems to produce the Tudor rose.
The five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty are among the most well-known figures in Royal history. Of Welsh origin, Henry VII succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York to found the highly successful Tudor house. Henry VII, his son Henry VIII and his three children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I ruled for 118 eventful years. During this period, England developed into one of the leading European colonial powers, with men such as Sir Wal