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Privy Council of the United Kingdom

Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

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

  • The Cabinet. All cabinet ministers are made Privy Councillors (or Privy Counsellors), as are other important politicians, such as the leaders of the big political parties.
  • Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The most senior judges in England and Wales sit on this committee

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

Meetings of the Privy CouncilEdit

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 TermsEdit

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 CouncilEdit

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 Queen in Council.

The Commonwealth RealmsEdit

The Overseas dependent TerritoriesEdit

Republics in the CommonwealthEdit

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 JurisdictionEdit

The committee hears Appeals to Her 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:

  • Appeals from the Church of England's Court of Arches of Canterbury and the Chancery Court of York.
  • Appeals from Prize Courts,which hear the value of ships and their cargo.

The committee must also report to the Queen about anything she 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. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  2. Fitzroy, Almeric (28 March 1919). "The Titles Deprivation Act, 1917". The London Gazette (HMSO) (31255): 2. Retrieved 02 September 2007.