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royal prerogative

The special rights, powers, and immunities to which the Crown alone is entitled under the common law. Most prerogative acts are now performed by the government on behalf of the Crown. Some, however, are performed by the sovereign in person on the advice of the government (e.g. the dissolution of Parliament) or as required by constitutional convention (e.g. the appointment of a Prime Minister). A few prerogative acts (e.g. the granting of certain honours, such as the Order of the Garter) are performed in accordance with the sovereignís personal wishes.

The Crown has limited powers of legislating under the prerogative, principally as respects the civil service and UK dependent territories. It does so by Order in Council, ordinance, letters patent, or royal warrant. The dissolution and prorogation of Parliament and the granting of the royal assent to Bills take place under the prerogative. Originally the fountain of justice from which the first courts of law sprang, the Crown still exercises (through the Home Secretary) the *prerogative of mercy and retains the right (through the Attorney General) to stop a prosecution by entering a *nolle prosequi. In foreign affairs, the sovereign declares war, makes peace and international treaties, and issues passports under the prerogative. Many appointments (e.g. the higher judiciary, archbishops, and diocesan bishops) are made under the prerogative, and a variety of honours, including new hereditary peerages, are conferred by the Crown as the fountain of honour. The sovereign is head of the armed forces, and, although much of the law governing these is now statutory, their disposition generally remains a matter for the prerogative. There is a prerogative power, subject to the payment of compensation, to expropriate or requisition private property in times of war or apprehended war. Miscellaneous prerogative rights include the rights to *treasure trove and to *bona vacantia. An important immunity of the sovereign is the prerogative of perfection. The common-law maxim that the King can do no wrong resulted in the complete immunity of the sovereign personally from all civil and criminal proceedings for anything that he or she might do. This personal immunity remains, but actions may now be brought against the Crown under the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 (see *Crown proceedings).

If a statute confers on the Crown powers that duplicate prerogative powers, the latter are suspended during the existence of the statute unless it either abolishes them or preserves them as alternative powers.

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