International

A Guide To The Royal Family

How Much Power Does the Queen and her Descendants Have?

By: Olivia Frasca

The British royal family fosters a sense of national identity, unity, and pride for the people.
Photo Credit: cheatsheet.com

As the status of Brexit negotiations seems uncertain and constantly changing, the British people can find stability and continuity in one thing: the royal family. The current British monarchy traces its origins back to the 10th century.

Once a family of rulers in charge of a massive empire, the royal family serves a pretty modest role today. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which Parliament creates and passes legislation.

Despite this, the family never fails to enchant the world. From their rich upbringings, large estates, elaborate weddings, and ceremonial duties, it is hard not to admire their “fairytale” life.

Although the media seems to glorify their lavish lifestyle, the royal family plays a vital role in British affairs at home and abroad.

According to the official website of the royal family, “The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.”

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in the history of the country. As of September 2018 she has ruled for 66 years.

Her Majesty The Queen is recognized as the Head of State and serves as the figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth. She resides in Buckingham Palace located in Westminster, London.

She is responsible for opening parliament sessions and signing proposed bills. She has the ability to appoint ministers to the Crown, pardon criminals, issue passports, and present titles of honor to citizens too, according to Reader’s Digest.

The Queen is also Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. All members of the military must swear allegiance to the Sovereign.

“The Queen sees public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work. The Queen has links – as Royal Patron or President – with over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations.”

“Her patronages and charities cover a wide range of issues, from opportunities for young people, to the preservation of wildlife and the environment.”

Queen Elizabeth II, along with her descendants, honor and thank the Commonwealth for their contributions.

Although members of the royal family pursue their own political causes, they must not do so when they take the throne. Prince Philip, first in line to the British throne after the Queen, must remain neutral on causes after he becomes King.

The male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip formally go by the surname of Mountbatten-Windsor. The Queen’s family assists the Sovereign in carrying out her duties.

Prince William and Prince Harry, for example, have served in the British military for seven and ten years respectively. ‘United for Wildlife’ is an organization founded by Prince William that aims to prevent illegal wildlife trading.

Prince Harry created the Invictus Games, an adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick army members and veterans. The Games are held every year throughout the world and have taken place in London, Orlando, Toronto, and Sydney.

The line of succession after the Queen is Prince Charles of Wales, Prince William of Wales, Prince George of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince Louis of Cambridge, and Prince Harry of Wales.

While the Royal family tree can be complicated to understand, successors of the throne are blood-related. Charles is the Queen’s son and his children are Prince William and Prince Harry, also known as the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

George, Charlotte, and Louis are William and Kate’s children. Prince William’s children enter the line of succession before his brother Harry, the Duke of Sussex.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are expecting their first child at the end of May. The royal newborn will be seventh in the line of succession following his father.

The royal family is a symbol of British pride and continuity that the people can turn to amidst rough times. Their duties and personal contributions represent history, honor citizens, and never fail to enchant the world.

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