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Milestones of a Monarch: Devolution across the UK

Andrew Parsons/ i-Images

As Royal Central continues to highlight important moments during Her Majesty’s reign and all of the key moments, perhaps it is one of the most significant changes to power during The Queen’s 70-year-reign, the devolution of the United Kingdom.

Devolution is the process of transferring the power and funding from a national to a local government. This process allows decisions to be made in the best interest of locals, communities, and the businesses they affect. The current form of devolution in the UK goes back to 1997. That year, voters chose to create a Scottish Parliament and a National Assembly for Wales. In Northern Ireland, devolution became a key element of the Belfast and Good Friday agreement – an agreement between the British and Irish governments. Most political parties in Northern Ireland on how the country should be governed moving forward.

So, where does The Queen come into all of this? As Head of State, The Queen has to remain strictly neutral when it comes to political matters. While she cannot vote or stand for election, she can and does have important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the UK government.

In addition to the sovereign’s role in running the British legislature, The Queen also has formal roles in relation to the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. As countries of the United Kingdom took on their own governments, Her Majesty was there to formally open the building of Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. As for Northern Ireland, she would not visit the Assembly building at Stormont until her Golden Jubilee tour in 2002 – about four years after the assembly was established.

Overall, the United Kingdom has four different legislatures and executives. Each has its own different range of powers and works together to make sure devolution is successful. Currently, parliament remains sovereign and holds power to amend devolution acts or to legislate on anything that has been devolved.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.