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Role as a Monarch

In winter 1953 Her Majesty set out to accomplish, as Queen, the Commonwealth tour she had begun before the death of her father. With The Duke of Edinburgh she visited Bermuda, Jamaica, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Uganda, Malta and Gibraltar. This was the first of innumerable tours of the Commonwealth they have undertaken at the invitation of the host governments. During the past fifty years The Queen and Prince Philip have also made frequent visits to other countries outside the Commonwealth at the invitation of foreign Heads of State.

Since her Coronation, The Queen has also visited nearly every county in Britain, seeing new developments and achievements in industry, agriculture, education, the arts, medicine and sport and many other aspects of national life.

As Head of State, The Queen maintains close contact with the Prime Minister, with whom she has a weekly audience when she is in London, and with other Ministers of the Crown. She sees all Cabinet papers and the records of Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings. She receives important Foreign Office telegrams and a daily summary of events in Parliament.

Her Majesty acts as host to the Heads of State of Commonwealth and other countries when they visit Britain, and receives other notable visitors from overseas.

She holds Investitures in Britain and during her visits to other Commonwealth countries, at which she presents honours to people who have distinguished themselves in public life.

As Sovereign, Her Majesty is head of the Navy, Army and Air Force of Britain. On becoming Queen she succeeded her father as Colonel-in-Chief of all the Guards Regiments and the Corps of Royal Engineers and as Captain-General of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Honourable Artillery Company. At her Coronation she assumed similar positions with a number of other units in Britain and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. (A full list appears in Whitaker's Almanack.)

Every year, Her Majesty entertains some 48,000 people from all sections of the community (including visitors from overseas) at Royal Garden Parties and other occasions. At least three garden parties take place at Buckingham Palace and a fourth at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh. Additional 'special' parties are occasionally arranged, for example to mark a significant anniversary for a charity. In 1997, there was a special Royal Garden Party attended by those sharing The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh's golden wedding anniversary. In the summer of 2002 there will be special Golden Jubilee Garden Parties for individuals born on Accession Day, 6 February 1952.

Her Majesty also gives regular receptions and lunches for people who have made a contribution in different areas of national and international life. She also appears on many public occasions such as the services of the Orders of the Garter and the Thistle; Trooping the Colour; the Remembrance Day ceremony; and national services at St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

The Queen is Patron or President of over 700 organisations. Each year, she undertakes a large number of engagements: some 531 in the UK and overseas in 2000.

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