September 30, 2022

The Queen should appoint the British Prime Minister at Balmoral, not Buckingham Palace

Balmoral is taking his traditional summer holiday and new plans mean the next Prime Minister will undertake a 1,000-mile tour.

“It’s a very significant change,” said Craig Prescott, an expert in constitutional law and politics at Bangor University in Wales. “It’s a symptom of the problems with her movement, and another step in that journey where the Queen is doing less and less.”

Who to meet is still undecided.

Following Johnson’s resignation last month, the ruling Conservative Party is currently looking for a new leader. The winner will be announced on Monday and will become the next British Prime Minister.

The party’s 200,000 or so members are currently voting between Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister – with Truss the clear favorite based on the polls.

The winner will become the 15th British head of Elizabeth’s reign, and all others will be installed at Buckingham Palace.

It is a high-drama, choreographed event in which the outgoing leader makes his way to the palace through central London, accompanied by a parade of police vehicles in a black government car and monitored by television news helicopters.

When the outgoing leader has resigned and left the Queen’s residence, the heir is formally asked by the sovereign to arrive in their own car and set up the reigns. (A constitutional monarch has no real political power, but it is one of their residual “proprietary powers”.)

It’s a formality, but an important moment that signals a new era for the country — a more low-key version of the pageantry and trappings that surround US presidential inaugurations.

As part of this “Theater of the British Constitution,” the soldiers standing guard at Buckingham Palace do not salute the incoming Prime Minister as he enters the audience chamber, but only when he emerges from his first office meeting with the sovereign. , Prescott said.

The newly anointed Prime Minister then went straight to No. 10 Downing St, their new official office and residence, to deliver their first speech as head of state.

Just a few minutes’ drive from Buckingham Palace, traveling from London to Balmoral takes half a day by road or train or just over an hour by plane.

It is unclear how the media will cover the upcoming trip by Johnson and his successor.

Image: BRITAIN-POLITICS-CONSERVATIVES
Leading frontman Liz Truss in Birmingham, England last week.Geoff Caddick / AFP – Getty Images

The Queen’s 100% record of having a new leader at Buckingham Palace should be seen in the context of her understanding that the royal family needs to stay in the public imagination and stay active, Prescott said. “Seeing is believing,” Queen once famously remarked.

The Queen may decide to pass this responsibility on to her son and heir, Prince Charles, as she has done this year at the State Opening of Parliament and at some of her Platinum Jubilee events. But this announcement signals that he wants to play the role himself.

Although this is a first for Elizabeth, some of her predecessors have appointed prime ministers outside the capital.

In 1868, Queen Victoria appointed Benjamin Disraeli to Osborne House, the then royal residence of the Isle of Wight on the south coast. In 1885, he appointed his successor, Lord Salisbury, as his last Prime Minister at Balmoral.

Perhaps most notably, in 1908 King Edward VII appointed HH Asquith to a hotel room in the south of France. It had nothing to do with the difficult circumstances, Prescott said, and the king didn’t want to interrupt his vacation.

Correction (Aug. 31, 2022, 9:30 am ET): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated when Disraeli was appointed prime minister. That was in 1868, not 1886.