Open Parliament sessions
Parliament, not the royal family, is the United Kingdom’s highest governing body… and yet Queen Elizabeth II does still have some power over this legislative group containing hundreds of individuals. Namely, she must officially open Parliament every May to commence the Parliamentary year. The ceremony is elaborate and steeped in tradition; the Queen must lead a procession through the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster, wear the Imperial State Crown, and give a formal address to both Houses of Parliament. This is the only ceremonial event where the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and the Queen herself gather in the same space.
Parliament may have the power to make the laws, but the Queen must sign off on a proposed bill before it officially goes into effect. She must give what’s known as ‘royal assent,’ which means that she approves the proposed law (or doesn’t!). However, this power to reject laws is, to say the least, not something that comes into play very often. The last time a monarch didn’t grant royal assent was in 1708, when Queen Anne vetoed a measure that would’ve restored the Scottish militia.
Appoint Ministers to the Crown
Most government officials in the United Kingdom are chosen through a vote, but the Queen can appoint Ministers to the Crown, including advisors and cabinet officials, herself. She most frequently chooses from the existing members of Parliament. This ability isn’t unique to the Queen, though; the Prime Minister has the power to appoint Ministers to the Crown as well.