Queen Elizabeth II is not like you and me. It’s true that her role as the British head of state is largely ceremonial, and the Monarch no longer holds any serious power from day to day. The historic “prerogative powers” of the Sovereign have been devolved largely to government ministers. Technically, all unmarked swans in open water belong to the Queen, though the Crown “exercises her ownership” only “on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries,” according to the official website of the Royal Family. “The swans are also given a health check and ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen’s Swan Warden, a Professor of Ornithology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology,” according to the Royal Family website. The Queen still technically owns all the sturgeons, whales, and dolphins in the waters around the UK, in a rule that dates back to a statute from 1324, during the reign of King Edward II, according to Time. Driving licenses are issued in the Queen’s name, yet she is the only person in the United Kingdom who doesn’t legally need a license to drive or a number plate on her cars, according to Time. Unlike other members of the Royal family, the Queen does not require a passport, as they are issued in her name. The Queen’s official birthday is celebrated on a Saturday in June, though her actual birthday is on April 21. “Official celebrations to mark a sovereign’s birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer,” according to the Royal Mint. The Queen has her own personal poet. The Queen’s consent is necessary to turn any bill into an actual law. Once a proposed law has passed both houses of Parliament, it makes its way to the Palace for approval, which is called “Royal Assent.” The most recent British Monarch to refuse to provide Royal Assent was Queen Anne, back in 1708. Royal Assent is different than “Queen’s consent,” in which the Queen must consent to any law being debated in Parliament that affects the Monarchy’s interests (such as reforming the prerogative or tax laws that might affect the Duchy of Cornwall, for example). Queen’s consent is exercised only on the advice of ministers, but its existence provides the government with a tool for blocking debate on certain subjects if bills are tabled by backbench rebels or the opposition. It has been exercised at least 39 times, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information act, including “one instance [in which] the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member’s bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament,” The Guardian reported in 2013. The Queen has the power to appoint Lords, who can then sit in Parliament, the upper house in Britain’s legislative system. The Queen has the power to form governments. The Queen previously wielded the power to dissolve Parliament and call a general election, but the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act put an end to that in 2011. Every year, she opens Parliament with the Queen’s speech, which lays out the government’s plans. Like Lords, they are appointed by the Queen – and she knights them personally. While the overwhelming majority of the Queen’s prerogative powers are devolved to her ministers, there is one exception that allows her to wield power herself. The Queen holds the ability to fire the entire Australian government. As the head of state in Australia, the Queen has certain powers over the government. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Church of England, Britain’s state religion first established after King Henry VIII split away from the Catholic Church in Rome in the 16th century. Maundy money is a special kind of silver coin the Queen gives away to pensioners every year at a UK cathedral every Easter in a special ceremony. “Although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law, the Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law,” according to official site of the Monarchy. The Queen has the right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn her ministers. Assuming no “grave constitutional crisis,” the Queen’s input into the legislative process is supposed to be limited in real terms to the right “to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn” her ministers – advice delivered via meetings with the prime minister. John Kirkhope, a lawyer who successfully campaigned to have details of “Queen’s consent” made public, provided Business Insider with a list of some of the stranger rights the Queen still holds.
Source: Queen Elizabeth II owns every dolphin in Britain and doesn’t need a driving license — here are the incredible powers you didn’t know the monarchy has