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Can King Charles and members of the Royal Family vote in a General Election?

The UK is going to the polls after Rishi Sunak called a general election for early summer. Voters will choose the make up of the next parliament on July 4th 2024 and the leader of the main party after that poll will become Prime Minister.

The ballot was given the green light after Mr Sunak met King Charles and asked for parliament to be dissolved. Assent is a technicality and, for the first time in his reign, His Majesty agreed to the end of an administration.

Fundamental right

The right to vote is a fundamental aspect to living in the UK, however, for some people, heading to the ballot boxes is strictly off limits. But does this include the monarch?

Assuming you are over the age of 18, have UK citizenship, and are not a serving prisoner, you are likely to be able to vote in elections.

When it comes to royalty and nobility, the rules and conventions become a little murkier.

Members of the House of Lords are not able to vote in general elections. However, they are permitted to head to the ballot box in local elections.

In 2011, questions were raised over whether the human rights of peers were being infringed by the centuries old practice preventing the lords from voting in general elections.

In response, the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “The fact that members of the House of Lords have a voice in Parliament makes it legitimate to deprive them of a right to have their voice also heard through their elected representative in the Commons.”

Can the Royal Family vote?

Whereas there are specific rules in place to prevent members of the House of Lords from voting, there are no such laws in place in relation to The King and members of the Royal Family.

Technically, this means The King and members of his family can vote in elections if they wish to do so.

However, if The King was to head to his local polling station, this would no doubt trigger a constitutional crisis.

There are non-binding guidelines found in Parliament which state it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch or their family to vote in elections.

Official royal guidelines stipulate that the King “has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.” This means he should not vote, or indeed stand as a candidate in an election.