The Guardian has apparently just discovered a parliamentary procedure in use for the past, oh, 300 years, and...well, that's about it. In the UK, the House of Commons routinely shares proposed legislation with the Queen or the Prince of Wales when the matter under consideration directly affects the Royal Family. The Queen has no power to change the legislation, and indeed has never withheld her consent as doing so would cause a Constitutional crisis.
Still, it seems, as we say in the US, a bit hinky. And it seems that the Royals occasionally had something to say about the proposals. Naturally, the committed republicans of The Guardian are clutching their pearls indeed:
The Guardian has compiled a database of at least 1,062 parliamentary bills that have been subjected to Queen’s consent, stretching from the beginning of Elizabeth II’s reign through to the present day.
The database illustrates that the opaque procedure of Queen’s consent has been exercised far more extensively than was previously believed.
The investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that she used the procedure to persuade government ministers to change a 1970s transparency law in order to conceal her private wealth from the public.
The documents also show that on other occasions the monarch’s advisers demanded carve-outs on proposed laws relating to road safety and land policy that appeared to affect her estates, and pressed for government policy on historic sites to be altered.
A spokesperson for the Queen said: “Whether Queen’s consent is required is decided by parliament, independently from the royal household, in matters that would affect crown interests, including personal property and personal interests of the monarch.
“If consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record.”
She added: “Queen’s consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal. Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government. Any assertion that the sovereign has blocked legislation is simply incorrect.”
I would also consider myself to be a republican in the UK sense, happy to have the Windsors out of the process of governing the UK and taxable just like anyone else. But the UK Constitution, at the moment, has Elizabeth II Regina as Head of State, whose consent is required for all laws passed by her Government.
I imagine this article will elicit an enormous shrug from the British people.