All the Times Queen Elizabeth II is Accused of Lobbying the U.K. Government

Queen Elizabeth II has been accused of lobbying the U.K. government on four occasions—changing draft laws by "withholding" her consent.

British convention requires new legislation to be shown to the palace if it has an impact on the monarch's interests, a process known as "queen's consent."

The system is supposed to be purely procedural, however, with Elizabeth's staff insisting that consent is always given.

A series of stories by The Guardian alleges that the system gives the 94-year-old head of state the opportunity to lobby secretly for changes.

First the newspaper reported that her private lawyer pushed the British government into an amendment that helped hide her wealth in 1973, on a law relating to transparency in companies.

A second set of revelations on Monday alleged that queen's consent had been required on at least 1,062 laws—with Elizabeth's staff pressuring the government for changes to a total of four.

Palace 'Not Entirely Happy About the Clause As It Is Drafted'

The queen is known for driving without a seatbelt on her estates, which is allowed on private land in Britain.

However, in 1968 the government planned to introduce the same rules across all publicly accessible roads, regardless of whether or not they were privately owned.

The transport secretary of the time, Richard Marsh, contacted the palace to seek consent, since the change would affect the queen's private estates.

Queen Elizabeth II Under Umbrella at Ascot
Queen Elizabeth II shelters under an umbrella as she attends day two of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot racecourse in Berkshire on June 19, 2019. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Declassified government documents published by The Guardian show how a civil servant discussed the matter with the monarch's personal lawyer Matthew Farrer.

The civil servant wrote: "He explained that the reason why we had not yet heard from the palace (an interim letter is apparently on its way) is that he is not entirely happy about the clause as it is drafted."

The internal memo recorded that Farrer was "bothered" by the law applying to roads on the monarch's private estates. The legislation was amended as a result, The Guardian reported.

Saving a Royal Commission

The queen successfully lobbied to stop a royal commission being absorbed into a new organization responsible for the upkeep of national monuments, which Margaret Thatcher's government wanted to set up in 1982, documents suggest.

A civil servant contacted the palace to request consent but Philip Moore, Elizabeth's then private secretary, wrote back objecting "most strongly at not being consulted at an earlier stage."

Moore wrote: "Her Majesty inclines to the view that it would not be sensible for the functions of the royal commission to be taken over by the new commission.

"It would not therefore seem a very good idea to include in the bill a power, by statutory instrument, enabling the functions of the royal commission to be taken over by the new commission at some stage in the future."

A civil servant wrote in a memo published by The Guardian: "Clearly this view must affect the way in which we go forward."

The royal commission survived until 1999, when it was absorbed into English Heritage, The Guardian reported.

'The Bill Was Causing Them Grave Concern'

In 1975 the Labour government wanted to change the law so property owners wanting to lease their land for development would have to go through the local council.

However, royal family lawyers lobbied civil servants to change the law, threatening to take their concerns to a senior cabinet minister.

An internal government memo published by The Guardian read: "There could be a financial advantage in negotiating and leasing direct, but they did not press this.

"The importance lay in efficient management and turning the land to the best advantage by direct dealing.

"Unless a modification were made to the terms of the bill to this effect they would have to advise the chancellor [of the exchequer] that this aspect of the bill was causing them grave concern."

Hiding Her Wealth

Farrer told government officials in 1973 that his royal clients were concerned about a law designed to allow company directors to learn the identities of shareholders.

Had it been passed in its original draft form, it could have revealed where the queen invested her money and helped to track her net worth more effectively.

A declassified government document shows the attorney told the Department of Trade and Industry his clients took the issue "very seriously."

Civil servant CW Roberts wrote in another memo: "Mr. Farrer was not only concerned that information about shares held for the queen, and transactions in them, could become public knowledge (since it would appear on the company's register) and thus the subject of possible controversy.

"He regards any disclosure of beneficial ownership of shares by the crown, even if restricted to the directors of the company, as potentially embarrassing, because of the risk of leaks."

The law was changed to create an exemption for heads of state, including the queen.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "Queen's consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal.

"Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government. Any assertion that the sovereign has blocked legislation is simply incorrect.

"Whether queen's consent is required is decided by parliament, independently from the royal household, in matters that would affect crown interests, including personal property and personal interests of the monarch.

"If consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record."