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The Monarch and Parliament

The Monarch visits the Houses of Parliament, usually once a year, arriving in grand style to open a new session of Parliament. This article explains more about their role.

The Monarch and Parliament
You know who the current Monarch is? But do you know what they have to do with the UK Parliament? 

The Monarch used to run the country, but not anymore.

In the past Britain's kings and queens were incredibly powerful. They controlled the decisions that affected everyone in the country. Today, most of the important decisions that affect us are made by MPs and Members of the House of Lords.

It's not the UK Parliament without the Monarch

The UK Parliament has the power to pass laws for our country. It's formed of representatives from three parts: 650 MPs in the House of Commons; over 750 Members of the House of Lords; and the Monarch.

The Monarch gives 'final approval' to all laws

The Monarch signs their name to every Act of Parliament before it can become the law of the land. It would be very unusual for them to refuse. No monarch has refused Parliament's wishes for over 300 years.

The Monarch opens Parliament every year

MPs and Lords don't meet in Parliament every day of the year. There are some breaks. It falls to the Monarch to open each new meeting – or 'session' – of Parliament. It's rather like Parliament's version of a school assembly, held for everyone, at the start of a new academic year. Take a look at 2016 State Opening photographs.

The Monarch appoints the Prime Minister after an election

The Monarch officially appoints the Prime Minister after a general election, although they don't choose the Prime Minister theirself. By tradition, they appoint the leader of the political party that wins a majority of the seats in Parliament. In 2010 there was no majority, so the Monarch appointed the leader of the party with the most seats. 

When it comes to politics, the Monarch is 'neutral'

The Monarch doesn’t get involved in running the government. Nor do they publicly say what they think about political issues. This is why people sometimes say the Monarch is 'above politics'.