Politico Gets Confused About Royal Assent

In an otherwise decent article about how Brexit has impacted the Crown, Politico Europe reporter Emilio Casalicchio made a strange claim. Referring to Royal Assent, he claimed that “[t]he process once required the monarch’s signature, but it is now a quick formality that does not involve her directly.”

This is, of course, factually incorrect. The Queen’s signature is still very much required. As section 1(1) of the Royal Assent Act 1967 states (emphasis mine):

An Act of Parliament is duly enacted if Her Majesty’s Assent thereto, being signified by Letters Patent under the Great Seal signed with Her Majesty’s own hand,—

(a) is pronounced in the presence of both Houses in the House of Lords in the form and manner customary before the passing of this Act; or

(b) is notified to each House of Parliament, sitting separately, by the Speaker of that House or in the case of his absence by the person acting as such Speaker.[1]

For an example of Letters Patent signifying assent (complete with Her Majesty’s signature), see the image below:

Letters Patent signed by Queen Elizabeth II giving Royal Assent to Acts of Parliament
These Letters Patent signified Royal Assent to, among other things, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

While this is a fairly minor mistake in the grand scheme of things, it’s annoying that a major publication like Politico would fluff such a straightforward detail. You don’t need to be an expert on the British constitution to know that the Queen is still involved in the process of granting Royal Assent—a cursory internet search would tell you that (heck, even Wikipedia would point you in the right direction!)—so there’s really no excuse for a mistake like this.

[1] Option (b) has become the standard, though option (a) is still used at the end of a parliamentary session.

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