The monarch: A few key facts
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 700 members of the House of Lords; and the Queen, who represents the monarchy.
The monarch gives 'final approval' to all laws
Queen Elizabeth signs her name to every Act of Parliament before it can become the law of the land. It would be very unusual for her 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.
The monarch appoints the prime minister after an election
The Queen officially appoints the prime minister after a general election, although she doesn't choose the prime minister herself. By tradition, she appoints the leader of the political party that wins a majority of the seats in Parliament. If the election doesn't produce a clear winner, though, the monarch might have to decide which party leader will be in charge.
When it comes to politics, the monarch is 'neutral'
The Queen doesn’t get involved in running the government. Nor does she publicly say what she thinks about political issues. This is why people sometimes say the monarch is 'above politics'.