to summarise what’s happening, the queen was exposed for lobbying the government to hide her private wealth, and shit is sort of starting to hit the fan.
for those of you who aren’t familiar with how uk parliament works, there are several “formalities” that exist within the legislative process which involve the monarchy - for example, every bill must gain royal assent (i.e. must be approved by the queen) to become law. you might be thinking: wait a second, the monarchy is unelected, that doesn’t sound very democratic. and you’re right! this is an argument that’s been ongoing for years, but mostly it’s been ignored because until recently these formalities were seen as harmless (it’s incredibly rare, as in it hasn’t happened in centuries, for the monarch to refuse to pass a bill that’s gone through parliament into law).
this scandal, however, has brought into light the reality of what these formalities actually mean for uk democracy. see, there’s this fun little thing called “Queen’s consent”. essentially, this is where the government asks the queen’s permission for parliament to be able to debate laws that affect her, and it happens before the debate takes place (rather than royal assent, which is the final stage of the legislative process). it was this procedure that the queen used back in the 70s to conceal her private wealth from the public and save her own arse by having government ministers alter a transparency law. no one has ever paid much attention to it, primarily because most people didn’t know it existed until now.
it seems, however, that the queen has repeatedly used Queen’s consent to privately lobby the government. the guardian’s investigation found that the queen used Queen’s consent to vet over 1000 laws, along with evidence of her lobbying for changes to at least four draft laws, though she might have interfered with way more. the laws she’s interfered with range from wealth and taxation laws (shocker), to laws regarding the nhs and even animal welfare. if it’s still not obvious to you why this is a problem, let me explain:
Queen’s consent is democratically dangerous enough as it is, seeing as its existence basically allows the monarchy to alter and even put a stop to legislation that has the potential to limit its power. the way that it’s being used is worse. the sheer breadth of policy that the procedure covers means that the queen, as we’ve discovered, has access to basically all legislation created by parliament, regardless of whether it affects the crown.
tldr: the queen is using parliament as means of maintaining her wealth and power, and Queen’s consent is an inbuilt tool within our democracy that facilitates that. This Is A Problem.
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