There are news reports that a Thai princess is to run for Prime Minister in the upcoming Thai elections (e.g. see here). This has been titled as a political earthquake. This article states:

The Thai monarchy, a revered institution shielded from criticism by a strict lèse-majesté law, has traditionally been seen as above the political fray, although royals have intervened in moments of political crisis.

I wonder whether any member of the British royal family has ever been a candidate for Prime Minister in the UK? It is well known that the Queen (or King) is supposed to be (or seen as) neutral in political affairs. But what about other royal members? I can't find anything on the Wikipedia page dedicated to the monarchy of the UK.

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    @Abigail although it's only a modern convention that the PM has to be in the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords. Having said that, some political parties' constitutions now positively require their leaders to be MPs.
    – origimbo
    Feb 8, 2019 at 12:12
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    Loosely related: at least two members of European royal families whose countries abolished their monarchies have gone into politics: Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was Tsar of Bulgaria as a child, and later became Prime Minister of Bulgaria; and Otto von Habsburg was the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, and later became a Member of the European Parliament. Feb 9, 2019 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


No, this has never happened. The reasons for that have evolved over time.

It might have been possible for a member of the Royal Family to become a Prime Minister sitting in the Lords during the eighteenth century, but it would certainly have been highly controversial and did not occur.

Since at least the early nineteenth century, it would have been viewed as a breach of the monarch's political neutrality for one of their family members to be a member of the Government, even more so if they were its leader.

It is traditional for mature male members of the royal family to receive peerages. Until 1999, this made them members of the House of Lords, and thus unable to be elected to the Commons. Thus, they could not have become Prime Minister since it became necessary for the PM to sit in the Commons at the beginning of the twentieth century.

  • A doubt - India also has a bicameral legislature. But in the indian political system, the Prime Minister can be from either house. Are you saying that in the British system, the PM can only be from the House of Commons?
    – sfxedit
    Nov 20, 2023 at 4:55
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    @sfxedit: Yes, the PM needs to be a member of the House of Commons. The House of Lords is not elected, and the Commons is seen as the primary chamber. If the PM was in the Lords, he could not be questioned by members of the Commons, and accountability would fail. Nov 20, 2023 at 7:32
  • Isn't there some rule that that allows the PM to be present in either houses to answer questions? I remember reading something like that.
    – sfxedit
    Nov 20, 2023 at 13:10
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    @sfxedit: That was the case, long ago, but not any more. In 1963, it was considered unacceptable for the PM to be a member of the Lords. Alex Douglas-Home disclaimed his hereditary earldom and became an MP so that he could be PM after being selected as leader of the Conservative Party. Nov 20, 2023 at 19:30
  • @John Dallman ... I understood that the PM being from the commons was convention not law. Is this still the case? In 1940 there was an expectation amongst many that Lord Halifax would succeed Chamberlain and would be able to be PM from the Lords. This was an exceptional time, but any law would still have applied. Could we, legally, have a PM in the Lords now? Dec 8, 2023 at 15:07

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