The Sovereign

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.

Her Majesty the Queen ascended the throne in 1952 and was crowned in 1953. She is the elder daughter of HM King George VI. As Queen she is Sovereign of Australia and all government, justice and national defence is carried out in her name. An oath of allegiance to the Queen is a fundamental criterion of membership in the Australian body politic. She stands above all political matters. Although the Queen is usually resident in the UK, her presence wherever it may be, ensures that the machinations of overbearing politicians are ultimately kept in check as she remains the ultimate check on procedural correctness.

Although she is often physically distant, close contact with Australia and Australians is maintained either through vice-regal briefings and government communiques or from individual Australians writing to her or those who are fortunate enough to meet her in person. Her visits to Australia have over the years given her a comprehensive understanding of the country.

The Queen is a practising Christian and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Her Governorship is an all-important aspect of her reign which many of us are inclined to forget but which she does not. Although her religion is personal it is also a national matter as a prayer for the Queen, from wherever or whomever it may be offered, is a prayer for Her and for the good governance of the nation state. Although the Anglican Church in Australia is an autonomous Province within the Anglican Communion, it is only to be encouraged for our church authorities to recognise the Queen's commitment to the Christian faith and to offer prayers for her well being as a person and as Queen. Many of us follow different faiths and many of us have none but we remember that our stable governance is based on Christianity and, in combination with many other influences, helped form the way of life we enjoy today.

The Queen with some former Governors General . Photo: Tim Rooke/Rex Features

The Sovereign is represented throughout Australia by the Governor-General (see separate section) who is appointed by her on the advice of her Prime Minister and in each state she is represented by a Governor who is again appointed by her on the advice of her State Premier. All Governors and Governors-General are Australian citizens. Whilst in office the Governor-General is in effect the head of state and performs all national regal functions in the absence of the monarch. The Queen is kept abreast of affairs by her Governor-General. Only the Queen can remove a Governor or Governor-General from his post.

The Governor-General may reserve a parliamentary bill "for the Queen's pleasure"; that is withhold his consent to the bill and present it to the sovereign for her personal decision. Under the constitution, the Sovereign also has the power to disallow a bill within one year of the Governor-General having granted Royal Assent.This power, however, has never been used nor would be as the Queen always accepts the advice of her ministers but it might be suggested that Royal Prerogatives exist as warnings to those who might prefer to ignore or deviously subvert the checks and balances our system of governance has in place to protect us.