CaseSnappy Blog

Crunching Concepts: Diving into the Royal Prerogative

3 April 2024 | CaseSnappy Team

A King's Guard standing outside Buckingham Palace.


As we journey further in our Crunching Concepts series, today, we funnel our focus towards the intriguing concept of the royal prerogative. Essential as a cornerstone of the UK constitution, this term will help you delve deeper into the powers of the executive and the historical role of the monarch. Through this article, we aim to enrich your understanding of this unique aspect of UK constitutional law.

What is the Royal Prerogative?

The royal prerogative refers to a set of historical rights, privileges and powers once wielded by the monarchy which have largely transferred to the Prime Minister and government ministers. These prerogative powers are exercised without the need for parliamentary sanction and govern matters related to foreign affairs, defence, and the appointment or dismissal of ministers.

Why is the Royal Prerogative Important?

The royal prerogative is an important part of the UK constitution, providing the executive with certain discretionary powers that are crucial for efficient and timely decision-making.

1. As a significant tool for the functioning of the UK constitution: the royal prerogative gives the executive certain discretionary powers crucial for fast and efficient decision-making.

2. As a subject to the rule of law and judicial review: This interaction ensures that the powers granted under the prerogative are not arbitrarily misused or abused.

3. In maintaining the balance of power: the limitations and scope of the royal prerogative play a crucial role in preserving the balance of power between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Case Spotlight: Royal Prerogative in the Courts

Several landmark cases have played an integral part in shaping the understanding of the royal prerogative:

Case of Proclamations [1610] EWHC KB J22: This case set limits on the monarch's power to impose legislation through proclamations, asserting that prerogative powers cannot create or alter laws.

Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service (GCHQ) [1984] UKHL 9, [1985] AC 374: This ruling confirmed that in certain conditions, the use of prerogative powers is subject to review, therefore underscoring the importance of accountability.

R (on the application of Miller and another) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Appellant) [2017] UKSC 5: The pivotal ruling in this case clarified that executing Article 50 could not bypass Parliament, emphasizing the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the limits of prerogative powers.

CaseSnappy: Deciphering Legal Intricacies

Our mission at CaseSnappy is geared towards untangling complex legal concepts. We trust that our deep dive into the royal prerogative has offered valuable insights for legal practitioners and students alike.

Interested in delving deeper into the world of English law? Register for free with CaseSnappy today and take advantage of our precise, AI-enhanced insights across various legal sectors. Stay tuned for our next instalment in the Crunching Concepts series!

Get started
By using CaseSnappy, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.