The government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is classified as a constitutional monarchy, not unlike the governments of Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth holds ceremonial power. She is considered Head of State in the United Kingdom and 15 other member countries of the Commonwealth realm (Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Belize, Barbados, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, The Bahamas and Tuvalu). While different political parties can hold the majority in Parliament, the Head of State remains the same through these inevitable governmental changes. No matter which political party holds the majority, Parliament is still considered under the sovereign’s government.
It is important to understand that only Parliament can pass laws and regulations. However, Queen Elizabeth holds the power to invite the chosen head of the majority party in the House of Commons to become Prime Minister, open new sessions of Parliament, give royal assent to acts of Parliament, and approve Orders and Proclamations of the Privy Council. It is paramount that the sovereign remains neutral in all political proceedings. Because of this, The Queen cannot vote or run for political office. As stated by the British Monarchy’s official website, “The Queen’s role is to provide continuity and the focus for national unity, and the Royal Family’s public role is based on identifying with every section of society, including minorities and special interest groups.”
There is no written law stating that the sovereign cannot vote. However, it is viewed as unconstitutional for Her Majesty to vote in any election. Neutrality is the main reason The Queen does not vote. This is beneficial to the government, because no matter which political party holds the majority in Parliament, it is considered the government of Her Majesty. Further, The Queen is considered a member of the legislature. By this, she is not allowed to vote for other members of the legislature, even if it is for a different part of the legislative branch. When it comes to the European Parliament, The Queen and other members of the Royal Family are able to participate in this voting process. They can even stand for office, if they so desired, due to the passage of the Maastricht Treaty. The Queen would only participate in the voting or election process if her government had advised her to do so. However, her Ministers would prefer that she not participate in this so that she can remain neutral, even within the European Parliament.