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Balmoral not Buckingham: Her Majesty will not appoint the new PM in London

Hannah Walton-Hughes

On Monday 5th September 2022, Britain’s next Prime Minister will be announced. Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will be invited to form a new government by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth ll. However, there has been a slight change in protocol this year, with the Queen choosing to appoint the PM in Balmoral, as opposed to Buckingham Palace. Impact’s Hannah Walton-Hughes reports.

Her Majesty is currently partaking in her three-month break with her family and guests, in her Scottish home of Balmoral. Until recently, the plan was for her to return to Buckingham Palace in London in order to appoint the new Prime Minister. However, because of the Queen’s inconsistent health, it has been deemed more appropriate for the new PM and Boris Johnson to travel to Balmoral for the proceedings on the 6th of September.

Appointing a new Prime Minister is “one of her remaining prerogative powers”

This will ensure a fixed date for the PM’s diary and avoid last-minute alterations if the Queen is not fit to travel.

Over her 70-year reign, the Queen has had audiences with 14 different UK Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill in 1952, and continuing all the way up to Boris Johnson. The new PM, and leader of the Conservative Party, will be officially announced next Monday. Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will get the job.

Typically, the outgoing PM makes a statement outside of Downing Street, before travelling to their final meeting with the Queen, where they are formally dismissed – as has been the case since the reign of Victoria. The new PM is then invited, by Her Majesty, to form a new government, and then in turn gives a speech outside No.10.

To this date (according to constitutional expert, Professor Vernon Bogdanor), the only exception to this pattern was the appointment of Herbert Henry Asquith in 1908. Asquith travelled to Biarritz in France, in order to be appointed by Edward VII.

The Palace does not usually confirm her attendance at events until the day [of]

Recently, the Queen has being suffering from mobility issues, in addition to catching Covid in February. The Palace does not usually confirm her attendance at events until the day that they are taking place, in case she does not feel well. The Queen has missed a number of important events, such as the State Opening of Parliament, due to ill health.

This change in events will be viewed by many as an act of stoicism by our monarch; at 96 years old, she is still set on carrying out her constitutional duties. Appointing a new Prime Minister is “one of her remaining prerogative powers”, according to the Institute for Government.

Provided the leader has a majority of seats in the House of Commons, the Queen does not have to consult with anybody before inviting them to form a government under her name.

Nevertheless, there will undoubtedly be increasing concern and worry over the Queen’s health, after this significant break with tradition.

Hannah Walton-Hughes

Featured image courtesy of Mark de Jong via Unsplash. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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