About Britain | The monarchy

The monarchy

An ancient institution

The monarchy is the oldest institution of government. Queen Elizabeth II is directly descended from King Egbert, who united England under his rule in 829. The only interruption in the history of the monarchy was the republic, which lasted from 1649 to 1660.

Head of State

Today, the Queen is not only Head of State, but also an important symbol of national unity. The Queen's title in Britain is 'Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith'. In the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the Queen is represented by a Lieutenant-Governor.

 

The Commonwealth

Although the seat of the monarchy is in Britain, the Queen is also head of state of a number of Commonwealth states. In each state, the Queen is represented by a Governor-General, appointed by her on the advice of the ministers of the country concerned and completely independent of the British Government. In each case the form of the royal title varies. Other Commonwealth states are republics or have their own monarchies. In British-dependent territories, governors usually represent the Queen.

To find out more about the Monarchy, visit British Monarchy.


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