Privy Council (United Kingdom)

The Privy Council (PC), officially His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council
AbbreviationPrivy Council, PC
Formation1 January 1801 (1801-01-01)
Legal statusAdvisory body
Members of the Privy Council
Charles III
Penny Mordaunt
Richard Tilbrook
Ceri King
Privy Council Office

The Privy Council formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, and as a body corporate (as King-in-Council) it issues executive instruments known as Orders in Council which, among other powers, enact Acts of Parliament. The Council also holds the delegated authority to issue Orders of Council, mostly used to regulate certain public institutions. The Council advises the sovereign on the issuing of Royal Charters, which are used to grant special status to incorporated bodies, and city or borough status to local authorities. Otherwise, the Privy Council's powers have now been largely replaced by its executive committee, the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.

Certain judicial functions are also performed by the King-in-Council, although in practice its actual work of hearing and deciding upon cases is carried out day-to-day by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Judicial Committee consists of senior judges appointed as privy counsellors: predominantly justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and senior judges from the Commonwealth. The Privy Council formerly acted as the High Court of Appeal for the entire British Empire (other than for the United Kingdom itself). It continues to hear judicial appeals from some other independent Commonwealth countries, as well as Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

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