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 Queen 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
As Head of State, The Queen undertakes constitutional and representational
duties which have developed over one thousand years of history.
In addition to these State duties, The Queen has a less formal
role as 'Head of Nation'. She 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 public and voluntary service.
In all these roles The Queen is supported by members of her
Although the United Kingdom does not have
a written constitution which sets out the rights and duties
of the Sovereign, they are established by conventions. These
are non-statutory rules which can bind just as much as formal
As a constitutional monarch, The Queen cannot make or pass
legislation, and must remain politically neutral. On almost
all matters The Queen acts on the advice of ministers.
However, the Sovereign retains an important political role
as Head of State, formally appointing prime ministers, approving
certain legislation and bestowing honours.
The Queen also has official roles to play in other organisations,
such as the Armed Forces and the Church of England.
As a system of government, constitutional monarchy has many
strengths. One is that it separates out the ceremonial and
official duties of the Head of State from party politics.