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Queen of the Solomon Islands
Monarchy
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg
Incumbent:
Elizabeth II

Style: Her Majesty
Heir apparent: Charles, Prince of Wales
First monarch: Elizabeth II
Formation: July 7, 1978

The monarchy of the the Solomon Islands is a system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign of the Solomon Islands. The present monarch of the Solomon Islands is Queen Elizabeth II. The Solomon Islands share the Sovereign with a number of Commonwealth realms. The Queen's constitutional roles have been almost entirely delegated to the Governor-General of the Solomon Islands. Royal succession is governed by the English Act of Settlement of 1701, which is part of constitutional law.

The country has been working on a new constitution for several years now, and a constitutional convention is expected to finish their work in October 2008.[1] The draft from 2004 declared the Solomon Islands a republic, and it is expected that this change will be part of the final new constitution.[2]

Solomon Islands

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Solomon Islands



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Contents

International and domestic role

One of the most complicated features of the Solomon Island monarchy is that it is a shared monarchy.

54 states are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Sixteen of these countries are specifically Commonwealth realms who recognise, individually, the same person as their Monarch and Head of State; the Solomon Islands is one of these. Despite sharing the same person as their respective national monarch, each of the Commonwealth realms — including the Solomon Islands — is sovereign and independent of the others.

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Development of shared monarchy

The Balfour Declaration of 1926 provided the dominions the right to be considered equal to Britain, rather than subordinate; an agreement that had the result of, in theory, a shared Crown that operates independently in each realm rather than a unitary British Crown under which all the dominions were secondary. The Monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution, although it has often been called "British" since this time (in both legal and common language) for reasons historical, legal, and of convenience. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act, 1927 was the first indication of this shift in law, further elaborated in the Statute of Westminster, 1931.

Under the Statute of Westminster, the Solomon Islands have a common monarchy with Britain and the other Commonwealth realms, and though laws governing the line of succession to the Solomon Island throne lie within the control of the Solomon Island Parliament, Solomon Island cannot change the rules of succession without the unanimous consent of the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship by means of a constitutional amendment. This situation applies symmetrically in all the other realms, including the UK.

On all matters of the Solomon Island State, the Monarch is advised solely by Solomon Island ministers.

Title

In the Solomon Islands, the Queen's official title is: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Solomon Islands and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.

This style communicates the Solomon Islands's status as an independent monarchy, highlighting the Monarch's role specifically as Queen of the Solomon Islands, as well as the shared aspect of the Crown throughout the realms. Typically, the Sovereign is styled "Queen of the Solomon Islands," and is addressed as such when in the Solomon Islands, or performing duties on behalf of the Solomon Islands abroad.

Constitutional role

The Solomon Islands constitution is made up of a variety of statutes and conventions that are either British or Solomon Islands in origin, which gives the Solomon Islands a similar parliamentary system of government as the other Commonwealth realms.

All powers of state are constitutionally reposed in the Monarch, who is represented by the Governor-General of the Solomon Islands — appointed by the Monarch upon the advice of the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands. The Monarch is informed of the Prime Minister's decision before the Governor General gives Royal Assent.

Duties

Most of the Queen's domestic duties are performed by the Governor General. The Governor-General represents the Queen on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of Parliament, the presentation of honours and military parades. Under the Constitution, he is given authority to act in some matters, for example in appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service, in proroguing Parliament. As in the other Commonwealth realms, however, the Monarch's role, and thereby the vice-regent's role, is almost entirely symbolic and cultural, acting as a symbol of the legal authority under which all governments operate, and the powers that are constitutionally hers are exercised almost wholly upon the advice of the Cabinet, made up of Ministers of the Crown. It has been said since the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the last monarch to head the British cabinet, that the monarch "reigns" but does not "rule". In exceptional circumstances, however, the Monarch or vice-regal can act against such advice based upon his or her reserve powers.

There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by the Queen. These include: signing the appointment papers of Governors General, the confirmation of awards of honours, and approving any change in her title.

It is also possible that if the Governor General decided to go against the Prime Minister's or the government's advice, the Prime Minister could appeal directly to the Monarch, or even recommend that the Monarch dismiss the Governor General.

Succession

Succession to the throne is by male-preference primogeniture, and governed by the provisions of the Act of Settlement, as well as the English Bill of Rights. These documents, though originally passed by the Parliament of England, are now part of the Vincent and the Grenadines constitutional law, under control of the Solomon Islands parliament only.

This legislation lays out the rules that the Monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic, nor married to one, and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne. As Solomon Islands's laws governing succession are currently identical to those of the United Kingdom (by the Statute of Westminster) see Succession to the British Throne for more information.

The heir apparent is Elizabeth II's eldest son, Charles, who has no official title outside of the UK, but is accorded his UK title, Prince of Wales, as a courtesy title.

Legal role

All laws in the Solomon Islands are enacted with the sovereign's, or the vice-regal's signature. The granting of a signature to a bill is known as Royal Assent; it and proclamation are required for all acts of Parliament, usually granted or withheld by the Governor General. The Vice-Regals may reserve a bill for the Monarch's pleasure, that is to say, allow the Monarch to make a personal decision on the bill. The Monarch has the power to disallow a bill (within a time limit specified by the constitution).

The Sovereign is deemed the "fount of justice," and is responsible for rendering justice for all subjects. The Sovereign does not personally rule in judicial cases; instead, judicial functions are performed in his or her name. The common law holds that the Sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in his or her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the government) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the Monarch personally are not cognizable. The Sovereign, and by extension the Governor General, also exercises the "prerogative of mercy," and may pardon offences against the Crown. Pardons may be awarded before, during, or after a trial.

In the Solomon Islands the legal personality of the State is referred to as "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Solomon Islands." For example, if a lawsuit is filed against the government, the respondent is formally described as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Solomon Islands. The monarch as an individual takes no more role in such an affair than in any other business of government.

References


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