Studying, William and Kate, Royal Courts of Justice, Prime Minister David Cameron, Winston Churchill, Parliament

What is the Relationship between the UK Prime Minister and the Monarch

The Queen has a special relationship with the Prime Minister, the senior political figure in the British Government, regardless of their political party.

Although she is a constitutional monarch who remains politically neutral, The Queen retains the ability to give a regular audience to a Prime Minister during his or her term of office, and plays a role in the mechanics of calling a general election.

The Queen gives a weekly audience to the Prime Minister at which she has a right and a duty to express her views on Government matters. 

If either The Queen or the Prime Minister are not available to meet, then they will speak by telephone.

These meetings, as with all communications between The Queen and her Government, remain strictly confidential. 

Having expressed her views, The Queen abides by the advice of her ministers.

The Queen also plays a part in the calling of a general election. 

The Prime Minister of the day may request the Sovereign to grant a dissolution of Parliament at any time.

In normal circumstances, when a single-party government enjoys a majority in the House of Commons, the Sovereign would not refuse, for the government would then resign and the Sovereign would be unable to find an alternative government capable of commanding the confidence of the Commons.

After a general election, the appointment of a Prime Minister is also the prerogative of the Sovereign.

In appointing a Prime Minister, the Sovereign is guided by constitutional conventions. 

The main requirement is to find someone who can command the confidence of the House of Commons.

This is normally secured by appointing the leader of the party with an overall majority of seats in the Commons, but there could still be exceptional circumstances when The Queen might need to exercise discretion to ensure that her Government is carried on.

When a potential Prime Minister is called to Buckingham Palace, The Queen will ask him or her whether he or she will form a government. 

To this question, two responses are realistically possible. The most usual is acceptance.
If the situation is uncertain, as it was with Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963, a potential Prime Minister can accept an exploratory commission, returning later to report either failure or, as occurred in 1963, success.

After a new Prime Minister has been appointed, the Court Circular will record that "the Prime Minister Kissed Hands on Appointment". 

This is not literally the case. In fact, the actual kissing of hands will take place later, in Council.

Enjoyed this? Discover more about the British Monarchy.


Best Sellers

  • FOR STUDENTS: Amazon Prime Student 6 month trial. 50% off normal Prime. 10% off Text Books. 1000s of Videos.

Latest News & Features

It's time for you to get excited about studying Advanced Level Politics.

Dive in to our dedicated study portal on key concepts and modules.

WW1 100: The Battle of Amiens. Breaking stalemate on the Western Front and putting Germany on the defensive

CASE STUDY: Betty Boothroyd - the first female Speaker of the House of Commons

BRIT Review: 'Exploring Political Legacies: The Fascinating Case of Thatcherism' by Professor Stephen Farrall

Our Twitter Feed