Privy Council of the United Kingdom

formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council is a group of advisors to the British Monarch. Most of its important work is done by two committees,

Some laws need to be made by the "King-in-Council", that is at a meeting of the King and the Privy Council. Some jobs are filled by the King in Council too. For example, when the King appoints a new Bishop or Lord-lieutenant he announces his choice at a meeting of the Privy Council.

Meetings of the Privy Council


Once someone is made a member of the Privy Council they are a member for life, but only members of the government are asked to meetings, except for special occasions such as when a new monarch takes the "Accession Oath", a promise to do their best, at a meeting when the Privy Council called the Accession Council [1]

In the past some kings and queens were bored by long meetings of the Privy Council, so they made everyone stand instead of sitting comfortably. The tradition carries on today.

Privy Council Terms


Sometimes the Prime Minister shares information with other politicians on Privy Council Terms. This means that the information must stay secret.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council


The Law Lords, and retired Law Lords, also form the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It is the final court of appeal from British colonies an dependent territories, and some commonwealth realms. These countries call it an appeal to The King in Council.

The Commonwealth Realms


The Overseas dependent Territories


Republics in the Commonwealth


Four republics in the commonwealth also use the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a court of appeal.



From the Court of Appeal of Brunei the only appeal is to the Sultan of Brunei. The Queen and the Sultan have agreed that the cases are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council who then advise the Sultan, directly.

Domestic Jurisdiction


The committee hears Appeals to His Majesty in Council:

  • A Law Officer refers a Bill, directly to the committee.
  • Devolution issues can be referred to the Judicial Committee by -
  • any court or tribunal, if required to do so by the appropriate Law Officer.
  • A Law Officer refers "devolution issues" that are not about current bills.

Very rarely the Committee hears:

The committee must also report to the King about anything he ask. For example, investigating which members of the House of Lords supported the enemy in World War I.[2]


  1. "The London Gazette of 6 February 1952". Retrieved 2 September 2007.[permanent dead link]
  2. Fitzroy, Almeric (28 March 1919). "The Titles Deprivation Act, 1917". The London Gazette (31255). HMSO: 2. Retrieved 2 September 2007.[permanent dead link]