How Much Power Does The Queen Really Have?

Queen Elizabeth II: She's iconic. She's universally known. She has not once, to the best of anyone's knowledge, beheaded a traitor with a broadsword and forced his followers to clean the blood from her throne with their tongues.

Monarchic reign ain't what it used to be. Just about any description you'll find of what the Queen can do is preempted by words like "technically" and "theoretically." Just about every fragment of British political power now rests with either parliament or the judges panel on The Great British Bake Off. Like Spain and Belgium, Britain runs on what is called a constitutional monarchy, which Britannica defines as a "system of government in which a monarch shares power with a constitutionally organized government." Essentially, all of the big decisions are made by elected officials.

So what's left for Her Majesty to do? What can she do? Business Insider reported that in 2019, the Royal Family cost British taxpayers $104 million, to keep them living like royalty. What kind of power does that kind of money buy? Well, technically ...

She'd make a fine Matrix battery, but besides that?

According to The Week, "The monarch retains a symbolic role in government. She formally opens Parliament every year, and when the government passes a bill, it cannot become an Act of Parliament until it receives her stamp of approval, a process called Royal Assent." It sounds loftier than it is. No British monarch has refused Royal Assent in more than 300 years. The last time it happened was in 1708 when Queen Anne refused a bill to arm a Scottish militia.

At this point, nearly everything that the Queen does is less Daenerys Targaryen and more, say, Ronald McDonald. She's a symbol of her country, a goodwill ambassador, and an influential presence. Even the appointment of new prime ministers, known as "kissing hands," doesn't come with any real kissing anymore, according to HowStuffWorks. Things change. On the up side, per, the Queen can still claim any unmarked mute swan swimming in open water, and any whale or sturgeon caught off the British coast, and she doesn't need a license to drive. Rank still has its privileges.