Queen to appoint British PM at Balmoral, not Buckingham Palace

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Balmoral is where she spends her traditional summer vacation, and the new plans mean the next prime minister will be the one to make the 1,000-mile round trip, rather than the other way around.

“It’s a very important change because if the Queen could travel, she would,” said Craig Prescott, an expert in constitutional law and politics at Bangor University in Wales. “It’s an indication of her mobility issues, and a next step on that journey we’re about to take, where the Queen is doing less and less.”

Who she will meet has not yet been determined.

Following the announcement of Johnson’s resignation last month, the ruling Conservative Party is currently electing 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 polls.

The winner will be the 15th British leader of Elizabeth’s government, with all others appointed to Buckingham Palace.

It is a dramatic, choreographed event in which the outgoing leader travels through central London to the palace, in a black government car flanked by a police column and followed by television news helicopters.

Once the outgoing leader has taken care of their resignation and left the Queen’s residence, the successor arrives in their own car and is formally asked by the Sovereign to form a government. (The constitutional monarch has no real political power, but this is one of their remaining “privileges.”)

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 surrounding the inauguration of US presidents.

As part of this ‘theatre of the British Constitution’, the soldiers on watch at Buckingham Palace do not greet the new Prime Minister when they enter the audience room, but only do so when they emerge after their first internal encounter with the sovereign, said Prescott.

The newly anointed Prime Minister then travels directly to 10 Downing St., their new official office and residence, to deliver their maiden speech as the nation’s leader.

While the journey from Buckingham Palace takes only a few minutes, the journey from London to Balmoral takes half a day by road or rail, or over an hour by plane.

It is unclear how the media will cover the journey Johnson and his successor will take.

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

The Queen’s 100% record in hosting the new leader at Buckingham Palace should be seen in the context of her understanding that royals must be present and active in the public’s imagination, Prescott said. “We have to be seen to be believed,” the Queen once famously said.

The Queen may decide to delegate this responsibility to her son and heir, Prince Charles, as she did this year with the state opening of parliament and some events during her platinum anniversary. But the announcement indicates that she plans to fill the role herself.

Although it will be 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, a then royal residence on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. In 1885 she appointed his successor, Lord Salisbury, the last prime minister of her life, in Balmoral itself.

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

CORRECTION (August 31, 2022, 9:30 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article contained an erroneous statement when Disraeli was appointed prime minister. It was in 1868, not 1886.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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