Many people enjoyed the Royal wedding and watching the Royals cheer on the athletes during the 2012 London Olympics, but most—especially in the US where I now live—don’t know just how influential the British Crown is in global matters.
So, here’s a quick primer on the power of the Queen, and, one day, the Duke of Cambridge.
The head of the British Monarchy, who is today Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of the Commonwealth Realms. A Commonwealth Realm is a sovereign state that has the Queen as its monarch and head of state. There are 16 current realms with a combined population of 134 million people. The six largest are the UK, Canada, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Jamaica.
In Commonwealth Realms, the Queen is charged with issuing executive orders, commanding the military forces, and creating and administering laws. She can also dismiss Prime Ministers in those countries.
The Queen also rules over British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
There are 14 Territories and three Dependencies.
The territories have a population of about 260,000 people. In each territory, a governor or commissioner is appointed by the Queen. This representative of the crown is the link between the Crown and the territory and appoints the head of the government (as n the case of the governor) or is the head of the government (as in the case of the commissioner.)
The Dependencies are British possessions of the Crown and included Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. They are independently administered jurisdictions, answering to the Crown, and the relationship can best be described as “one of mutual respect and support, i.e., a partnership.”
And finally we come to the Commonwealth of Nations. This is an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent member states. Sixteen of the members are Commonwealth Realms; the others are just members of the Commonwealth.
The Queen is the symbolic head of the Commonwealth of Nations, however there is no guarantee that her successor would be the next Head of the Commonwealth.
Hopefully this has helped explain some of the real power and influence the Queen has around the world. With over 2.1 billion people living in these countries, you could say the Queen would easily top any World’s Most Influential Person list.
And these powers and responsibilities will one day be the Duke of Cambridge’s.