Monarchy of Guelphia
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Politics and government of Guelphia
The monarchy of Guelphia is the head of state of Guelphia, and is the source of all executive, judicial and legislative power and authority. Although the sovereign plays an important ceremonial and advisory role, in practice Guelphia uses the Westminster system of constitutional monarchy, so the power of the sovereign is greatly limited by a series of conventions that refer most powers to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
The present sovereign is James II, who has reigned since 9 December 2005. The heir apparent is his eldest son, HRH The Lord High Steward. The Prince and his wife undertakes various public ceremonial functions, as does the King's wife, HRH The Princess Consort. There are several other members of Royal Family besides those aforementioned, including the King's other children and grandchildren.
Role of the Monarchy
The Monarchy performs a number of duties, which can be divided on constitutional and ceremonial roles.
In theory, the Sovereign is all powerful and constitutionally can act according to their own wishes. In reality the power of the Sovereign's powers are contained by both convention, and to a lesser extent by the Constitution of Guelphia, which states that:
- The powers and functions conferred on the sovereign by this Constitution shall be exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Executive Council, save where it is provided by long standing convention and practice that he shall act in his absolute discretion or after consultation with or in relation to the Executive Council, or on the advice or nomination of, or on receipt of any other communication from, any other person or body.
The capacity for the Sovereign to act alone remains one of the most important prerogatives of the Crown, and the powers that can be used are known as reserve powers.
The most fundamental power of the sovereign is the Royal Assent, where he must formally give his assent to all Acts of Parliament before they can become law, but there are also a number of other powers that the sovereign may exercise. Like the British monarchy, the sovereign has the right to be consulted, the right to advise and the right to warn. Such advice is highly valued by Prime Ministers, as the monarch has a vast amount of working knowledge through years of being kept fully informed by ministers and receiving copies of all state documentation (the so-called "red boxes") such as Executive Council and Cabinet memoranda, reports from the diplomatic service and briefings from the intelligence services. The current monarch, James II, has been a member of the Executive Council since 1998, a period longer than any other person, and is considered to be the most well versed and up to date of all the members of the Council.
Ceremonially, the sovereign performs many duties and functions that play an important part of their role as head of state. These duties encompass all aspects of life in Guelphia, from political, social, and economic. These elaborate and sometimes ancient ceremonies begin with the and coronation of a new monarch at beginning of their reign, and naturally concludes with solemnity of their funeral at its end.
Possibly the most important ceremonial duty is the opening of a new session of Parliament every two years. On this occasion, the sovereign and other members of the Royal Family ride in state carriages to Parliament House where the sovereign will summon both Houses to the Great Hall and read out His Government's agenda for the next session.
Every year, the sovereign and other members of the Royal Family deliver many hundreds of speeches to a variety of audiences, both official and social. A key speech for the sovereign every year is the speech to the Royal Agricultural Society, which is always delivered on the eve of the Royal National Exhibition in mid-March. The speech usually carries a rural theme, but has also been an occasion for significant announcements to the nation, such as 1994, when Alexander III announced he had cancer.
As sovereign, the monarch is the fount of honour for all awards and medals. The pre-eminent order of chivalry is the Order of Guelphia, which every year conducts a religious service at St Michael's Chapel, and is when new Knights of the Order are inducted.
The Royal Family
Under the provisions of the Royal Successions Act, the membership of the Royal Family is by virtue of being a descendent of Alexander I, the first King of Guelphia. The principal members of the royal family are the King, the Princess Consort, their children, and Princess Christine, the King's mother. These members carry out the bulk of royal duties, unless they are unable to do so because of age, illness or working commitments.
The extended members of the Royal Family consist of all the remaining descendants of Alexander I who are not also descendants of the reigning monarch. Extended members of the Royal Family do not usually carry out any official duties for the monarch and are free to live as private citizens.
Immunities and protection
As the fount of justice, the sovereign cannot be prosecuted for any criminal or civil offence. Parliament alone may deal with a monarch who is deemed to have acted in a manner contrary to the spirit of the laws and customs of the Kingdom. Such privileges can be traced back the English Revolution of 1688, where James II of England was deposed and replaced by William III and Mary II. The immunity is not extended to any of the other members of the Royal Family, who are liable for prosecution as ordinary subjects of the kingdom.
All members of the Royal Family are protected by stringent privacy legislation and precedent that makes the kind of harassment inflicted upon the various European royal houses by the paparazzi a very rare thing in Guelphia. In order to prevent the kind of press intrusion that so undermined the British Royal Family in 1980s and 90s, the capture and publication of images that depict a member of the Royal Family in a poor light may also see the photographer, artist or editor liable for prosecution for the charge of Contempt of Royalty, which is essentially the same as lèse majesté.
Republicanism is not considered to be an act of Contempt of Royalty, and a person may hold such views without fear or prosecution or discrimination as long as they present their arguments using articulate and respectful language. However, base criticism of the Monarch or Royal Family that is derogatory, rude, or just plain offensive may see a person charged with Contempt. Examples have included a man in 1987 who called the King a "philistine" and a "scrounger". In 2002, another man was charged with Contempt for depicting acts of a sexual nature that concerned several female members of the Royal Family. In both cases, the men were fined £500 and gaoled for three months.
The day-to-day security of the Royal Family is the joint responsibility of the Guelphian Defence Force and the Royal and Diplomatic Branch of the Royal Guelphia Police. Without exception, a pre-mediated attempt on the life of any member of the Royal Family is an act of treason, and carries a minimum life sentence whether successful or not. As is most often the case with royal incidents, if a person is deemed to be mentally deranged, they may still face the lesser charge of Contempt of Royalty and be prevented from profiting from their ill deed.
Royal Styles and Titles
Under the provisions of the Royal Styles and Titles Act, there have been a number of alterations made to the traditional structure of noble titles as they are used in Europe. The primary distinction is the complete lack of discrimination on the basis of sex, where men and women who a descended from a reigning monarch are titled in the exactly the same manner, as are their children. Currently, there exists four styles; Majesty, Royal Highness, Highness, and The Honourable. The rules governing the granting of these styles, and how they may be lost, is specified in a Letters Patent issued by Alexander II in 1867.
Titles are also granted on a limited basis, with a number of hereditary peerages in existence. It is customary for there to be a grant of a title to an heir and to a dowager consort in the form of the dukedoms of Warmford (since 1867) and Chandler (since 1997).
Upon the death of a monarch, the Accession Council meets in the Great Hall of Parliament House. Attending are the members of the Senate, House of Assembly, Aldermen, Lords Justices of the Judicial Committee of the Executive Council, Lords-Marshal and Lords-Spiritual of the Kingdom. The Council makes a proclamation declaring the death of the previous monarch and names the individual who is to succeed to the Crown. The proclamation is then read aloud on radio and television, and from the balcony of Parliament House.
The order of succession is lineal, so that only a child who is a descendant of Alexander I who is born in lawful wedlock may succeed, and so that the nearest line shall take precedence over the more remote and the elder in the line over the younger.
All members of the Royal Family have an official residence that is given to them as part of duties. These official residences form the Crown Estates and formally belong to the Crown Estates Trust. The commission hold the residences in trust for the nation and future members of the Royal Family. They cannot be sold or rented, nor can they significantly altered by their tenants without the approval of the trust. Properties under the care of the Trust include Kingsbury Palace, Government House, and Station Creek.
In addition, there are a number of private properties that are owned by members of the Royal Family. These are not part of the Crown Estates, and are generally administered as private concerns. Unlike the official residences, these privates estates can be changed, expanded, modified, and disposed of at the whim of their owner. The largest and most noteworthy of the private royal estates is the Royal Estate, Warmford Regis.
References and notes
- Constitution of Guelphia (1982). §11(2)