If I understand correctly, Royal Assent is still required for all Acts of Parliament, but is now just a formality and has not been refused for hundreds of years.

What if Parliament passed a law that was very unpopular with the people? Would having the support of a large majority of the people affect whether or not the monarch could refuse royal assent?

  • One suspects that the bill would be a topic of discussion in the PM-King meetings well before the bill was introduced much less passed. Whether the royal would threaten to refuse royal assent during those meetings or not, the point would be to head off the bill and obviate the possibility of refusal.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:09
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    Certainly the royal could refuse assent: that is the meaning of royal assent. We don't know what the consequences would be because this hasn't happened for so long. Hypothetically, the government could give up, or try anything from passing the measures as secondary legislation (not requiring assent), to having the king deposed or otherwise removed. Who knows?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:28
  • There would be a constitutional crisis, with the King in direct conflict with the elected goverment. @JonCuster it is not just the PM who can introduce a Bill. Any Member of Parliament may do so. Royal Assent isn't needed to introduce a Bill for debate. And if the King was in day-to-day control of the running of the parliamentary process, ergo we don't even have a democracy. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 17:45
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    @WeatherVane - you are thinking to procedurally. The King/Queen would use soft power, laying out their concerns to the PM, who would hopefully catch their drift and use their power within the government to alter the bill through normal parliamentary means. No threats, no need to withhold assent in the end. A simple "I really think that <point> has gone too far and will not be well received by the people, do you understand?" in their private meeting with the PM should be more than enough. That is, after all, the point of those meetings.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 18:53
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    @JonCuster so are you saying that ER secretly controlled Parliament, and that CR will continue to do so, because they have the power? They really don't have that power. They can't tell the PM what to do, only advise. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


This would surely be a constitutional crisis in a country where the constitutional order is spread over many separate laws and traditions.

The UK is generally accepted as a genuine democracy which has a monarch for reasons of tradition, and which lets the monarch sign some things as head of state which are decided by elected officials. The parliament dominates the crown-in-parliament, for all the ceremonial importance of the monarch. So by this reasoning, the elected officials should win the power struggle.

Yet it also retains vestiges of the old order e.g. in the House of Lords. It would come down if the popularity of the monarch's action outweighs the genuine pride of the Brits in their democratic traditions.

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