Parliament and Crown

Along with the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Crown is an integral part of the institution of Parliament. The Queen plays a constitutional role in opening and dissolving Parliament and approving Bills before they become law.

Parliament

The highest legislative authority in the United Kingdom. Made up of the House of Commons, House of Lords and the Queen (who is the UK's current hereditary monarch).

Crown

This is another way of referring to the monarchy - which is the oldest part of the system of government in this country. Time has reduced the power of the monarchy, and today it is broadly ceremonial. The current UK monarch is Queen Elizabeth II.

Appointing a government

The day after a general election the Queen invites the leader of the party that won the most seats in the House of Commons to become Prime Minister and to form a government.

Opening and dissolving Parliament

The Crown opens Parliament through the State Opening (marking the beginning of the Parliamentary year). The Crown only dissolves Parliament before a general election under conditions laid out in the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 (dissolution).

Queen's Speech

The Crown informs Parliament of the government's policy ideas and plans for new legislation in a speech delivered from the throne in the House of Lords. Although the Queen makes the speech the government draws up the content.

Royal Assent

When a Bill has been approved by a majority in the House of Commons and the House of Lords it is formally agreed to by the Crown. This is known as the Royal Assent. This turns a Bill into an Act of Parliament, allowing it to become law in the UK.

Related information

Monarch: The head of state, currently Queen Elizabeth II.

Living Heritage

Learn about the history of Parliament's role and its relationship to the Crown

The UK political system

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy: government is voted into power by the people, to act in the interests of the people. Every adult has the right to vote - known as 'universal suffrage'.

Alongside this system, the UK is also a constitutional monarchy. This is a situation where there is an established monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), who remains politically impartial and with limited powers.