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Terms and Conditions of Employment for the British Monarchy?

June 12, 2015

Happy Act of Settlement Day


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Today is the 314th anniversary of the Act of Settlement – one of the more important constitutional documents in British history.  It is, among other things, the closest thing to a contract or a set of terms and conditions for the British monarchy.   More important than the specifics of this contract is the assertion of sovereignty that is implied by this contract’s very existence.

As it became clear around the beginning of the eighteenth century, that there would be no more protestant Stuarts available to govern Britain, a protestant parliament determined that they were empowered to settle the throne as they saw fit and to compel monarchs to adhere to certain principles.  The Act of Settlement did not finally “settle” the relationship between parliament and the monarchy, but it provided the legal basis for ensuring that parliament could always win.

When settling the English (and subsequently British) crown upon…

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