Erskine May states the following:

The Crown is hereditary, subject, however, to special limitations by Parliament; and the King or Queen has always enjoyed, by prescription, custom and law, the chief place in Parliament and the sole executive power. The right of succession and the prerogatives of the Crown itself are, however, subject to limitations and change by legislative process with the consent and authority of the Sovereign; and in the exercise of the prerogatives and powers of the Crown the Sovereign now, by constitutional convention, depends on the advice of Ministers of the Crown, who continue to serve in that capacity only so long as they retain the confidence of Parliament.

What is considered to be "advice of Ministers of the Crown"? Is there a specific Minister or subset of Ministers to which this refers, or does it refer to the collective, perhaps through the passing of legislation to grant "permission" for the use of such powers?

2 Answers 2


The prime minister

Advice is a thing in constitutional monarchies like the U.K. where the monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) is told by an executive (the prime minister in the U.K.) what to do. In the UK's case, the Queen can technically refuse it, but that would have terrible implications and almost certainly never happen.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer! Erskine May also makes reference in a some places to the "advice of the Privy Council" (such as here and here) - is there no distinction between these two forms of advice?
    – VortixDev
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 12:27
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    @VortixDev notionally, the Privy council is a wider body containing various figures from the "great and the good" (Including members of her Majesty's loyal opposition), with cabinet ministers its executive body. In practice it would be the leadership party in power deciding both cases. The reason Eskine May uses that language is that's what the law in question says. Note that it was written in 1867, which is several iterations back in terms of the party (and class) systems in the UK.
    – origimbo
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 17:27
  • Doesn't the "advice of ministers" mean the advice of the cabinet (council of ministers) and not just the PM (who, as the head of the cabinet, has the duty to act as the messenger)? It's not as if the PM or any minister is supposed to "advise" the head without consensus. Right?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 23:37

Formally the advisory body is the "Privy Council", however in practice the full Privy council doesn't meet. Instead decisions are made by a committee of the Privy council called the Cabinet. The Cabinet holds joint responsibility, which means that cabinet members either publically agree with decisions of the Cabinet, or quit.

Advice is then given to the monarch at small meetings of the Privy council, usually about four privy councillors, with the Monarch, which occur as required. There was generally one such meeting a month in the last years of Elizabeth, but there have been more in recent months with the new King.

You can see the business conducted at these meetings. These are "orders in council" and consist of the orders given by the monarch at the counsel of his ministers.

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