PA Photos; Camera Press; JS Library International

The Queen is the United Kingdom's Head of State. As well as carrying out significant constitutional functions, The Queen also acts as a focus for national unity, presiding at ceremonial occasions, visiting local communities and representing Britain around the world.

The Queen is also Head of the Commonwealth. During her reign she has visited all the Commonwealth countries, going on 'walkabouts' to gain direct contact with people from all walks of life throughout the world.

Behind and in front of the cameras, The Queen's work goes on, and no two days in The Queen's working life are ever the same.

Until the end of the 17th century, British monarchs were executive monarchs - that is, they had the right to make and pass legislation. Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, the monarch has become a constitutional monarch, which means that he or she is bound by rules and conventions and remains politically impartial.

On almost all matters he or she acts on the advice of ministers. While acting constitutionally, the Sovereign retains an important political role as Head of State, formally appointing prime ministers, approving certain legislation and bestowing honours.

The Queen also has important roles to play in other organisations, including the Armed Forces and the Church of England.

The Queen is not only Queen of the United Kingdom, but Head of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 53 independent countries.

Most of these countries have progressed from British rule to independent self-government, and the Commonwealth now serves to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world.

In addition to the United Kingdom, The Queen is also Queen of a number of other Commonwealth realms, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Queen has many different duties to perform every day. Some are familiar public duties, such as Investitures, ceremonies, receptions or visits within the United Kingdom or abroad. Away from the cameras, however, The Queen's work goes on. It includes reading letters from the public, official papers and briefing notes; audiences with political ministers or ambassadors; and meetings with her Private Secretaries to discuss her future diary plans. No two days are ever the same and The Queen must remain prepared throughout.


Prince Albert's Garter and
George III's diamond Star
from the Order of the Garter, the
oldest British Order of Chivalry
The Royal Collection © 2005,
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II



HM Queen Elizabeth II © 2005  The Royal Collection 

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