The UK is currently grieving the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the country’s longest-serving monarch.
The Queen has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, only recently celebrating her 70 years on the throne. In that time, she has become a much loved and respected figure across the world. Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits.
Her son King Charles III said the death of his beloved mother was a “moment of great sadness” for him and his family and that her loss would be “deeply felt” around the world.
Known for her sense of duty and tireless work ethic, she has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous change. The Queen has played a constitutional role in opening and dissolving Parliament and approving Bills before they become law. This is known as royal assent and all legislation (once the Bill has passed the various stages in the Parliamentary houses) must be granted royal asset before it can become an Act of Parliament.
As Head of State, Her Majesty the Queen has remained in a strictly neutral position with respect to all matters political, being unable to vote or stand for election. However, the Queen did hold a key position in our nation, which was to fulfil the important and formal ceremonial roles in relation to the Government of the United Kingdom.
Throughout her reign, the Queen has granted royal assent to somewhere in the region of 3,000 Bills of the UK Parliament (and many more when you take into account those of the Scottish, N. Irish and Welsh Parliaments). These have ranged from the more historical Acts which have shaped our country to those which govern the more day to day and social matters. They include legislation covering devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Brexit to animal welfare and human rights. One of the most notable was the abolishing of the death penalty which was granted royal assent by Queen Elizabeth on the 8th November 1965. LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights have also developed hugely over the last 70 years also. In 1967, both abortion and homosexuality were legalised in the U.K. Decades later, the Queen signed the royal assent to decree legalising same-gender marriage. Prime Ministers of every age have commented on the Queen’s acute grasp of legislation and the finer points of each and every Bill before her and there is no doubt she has watched with great interest the changing face of her nation.
For solicitors, the immediate change means we are no longer Officers of Her Majesties Court Service this will now immediately be known instead His Majesties Court Service and the Queens Counsel (“QC”) barristers will now, for the first time in over 70 years, become known as Kings Counsel (KC).
The City of London Law Society said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her loss will be felt around the world. We convey our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family at this difficult time.”
Here’s to an end of an era and thank you for your service Ma’am.