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Demise of the Crown

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Title: Demise of the Crown  
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Subject: Accession Council, Monarchy in New Zealand, Demise, Monarchy in Australia, British laws
Collection: British Laws, British Monarchy, Canadian Law, Monarchy in Australia, Monarchy in Canada, Monarchy in New Zealand
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Demise of the Crown

The demise of the Crown is the legal term for the end of a reign by a king, queen, or emperor, whether by death or abdication.

The term was coined in English law to signify the immediate transfer (Law French demise, "sending down [the line of succession]," from Latin demiss-[gender ending], the perfect participle of demittere, having the same meaning), of sovereignty and royal prerogatives to the late king or queen's successor without interregnum. By confusion, "demise" is sometimes interpreted as referring to the death of the Sovereign rather than to the transfer of the Crown. This erroneous meaning is undermined by the principle in constitutional law of the continuity of the monarchy, as expressed in the maxim "the Crown never dies".

Commonwealth Realms

Upon the Crown's demise, in the United Kingdom, a meeting of the Accession Council is held in London in order to give directions for the proclamation of the late monarch's successor. This meeting is to arrange for the formalities; neither the identity of the next monarch nor their accession to the throne depends on it. The proclamation takes place at St James's Palace, Charing Cross, within the City Boundary at Temple Bar, and the Royal Exchange. In Canada the Queen's Privy Council for Canada meets in Ottawa to perform the same functions, as does Australia's Federal Executive Council in Canberra, the Executive Council of New Zealand in Wellington and equivalent bodies in the remaining Realms as their shared Monarch holds each of the Crown separately from the others in a Personal Union.

Traditionally, the demise of the Crown resulted in the immediate dissolution of Parliament. This requirement was abolished throughout the British Empire by the Representation of the People Act 1867. A demise of the Crown no longer brings a session or a Parliament to an end. The Succession to the Crown Act 1707 provides that in the event of the demise of the Crown, Parliament, if adjourned or prorogued, must meet as soon as possible and if sitting must immediately proceed to act without any summons in the usual form.[1]

In the UK, under the Representation of the People Act 1985, if the demise of the Crown occurs during a general election, the vote is postponed by fourteen days.

At the first meeting of Parliament under a new monarch there is no speech from the Throne. All Members of Parliament and members of the House of Lords take an oath of allegiance to the new Sovereign. The House votes an Address to the Crown in response to the official notification of the previous monarch's demise, expressing condolences upon the death of the previous monarch and loyalty to his or her successor.

All civil service and Crown offices also, traditionally, became vacant upon the demise of the Crown. As all staff were employees of the monarch, their employment would end upon the death of the monarch thus all civil servants would have to be rehired and swear out oaths to the new king or queen. The Demise of the Crown Act 1901 in the UK, and similar legislation in other Commonwealth realms, now makes this process unnecessary – they are all employees of the Crown, rather than any particular Sovereign.

The coronation of the new monarch usually occurs within eighteen months, but is not necessary to secure the succession.


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