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Can King Charles and the royal family vote in the general election?

With the public heading to the polls on 4 July, will the monarch be casting a vote?

Rishi Sunak shaking hands with King Charles© WPA Pool
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May 29, 2024
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The general election campaign is in full swing, and up and down the country, politicians and activists are hitting the streets in order to win your vote. Millions of us will no doubt turn out on polling day, which will be 4 July, but will King Charles and members of the royal family be among those heading to the polling booth or using a postal vote?

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It's known that the monarchy is apolitical and although the King was known for some of his views when he was the Prince of Wales, he has had to remain neutral since assuming the throne on 8 September 2022. However, given that the royal's signature wouldn't be on a vote and it would be cast in secret, could this allow him to vote? Read on to find out...

Will the King vote in the election?

Although by law, there is nothing barring the monarch from voting in any election, the King will not be casting a vote due to the importance of remaining neutral on political issues. The UK Parliament website reads: "Although not prohibited by law, it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch to vote in an election."

King Charles and Queen Camilla in the House of Lords© Getty Images
The King will not be casting his vote

On the royal family's official site, His Majesty's unbiased role in Parliament is explained further. As Head of State, the King is expected to "remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters, unable to vote or stand for election."

Will other royals vote?

Again, much like with the King, although there are no restrictions on the rest of the royal family from voting, it's unlikely that you will bump into Prince William or Princess Eugenie at your local polling station.

The Queen and Prince Philip sat on golden thrones© WPA Pool
When he was a hereditary peer, Philip was banned from voting

Only a select few royals have ever been barred from voting and this is down to the peerage system. Until 1999, hereditary peers used to sit in the House of Lords, and this included the Duke of YorkDuke of Edinburgh and Duke of Gloucester among others. Although the royals never attended the upper parliamentary house due to their neutrality, British law does prevent members of the House of Lords from voting in general elections. When most hereditary peers were removed from the Lords under Tony Blair's reforms, the royals relinquished their seats.

In 2020, during the US presidential election, Prince Harry spoke about not voting, sharing: "This election, I'm not going to be able to vote here in the US. But many of you may not know that I haven't been able to vote in the UK my entire life. As we approach this November, it's vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity."

Prince Harry holding a microphone© John Lamparski
Harry could potentially vote in the US presidential election

Although the Duke of Sussex has listed the United States as his primary residence, it's unclear whether he has applied to become a US citizen. If the royal does become a US citizen, then he would be eligible to vote in a United States election.

What role will the King play in the election?

Although the King won't vote in the election, the monarch does have important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the UK government and the election process. The day after an election, Charles will invite the leader of the party with the most seats to form a government, made of either their own party or a coalition.

King Charles shaking hands with Liz Truss© WPA Pool
The King has to work with whoever is elected as Prime Minister

The royal family's official website explains: "The formal phrase 'King in Parliament' is used to describe the British legislature, which consists of the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The King's duties include opening each new session of Parliament, granting Royal Assent to legislation, and approving Orders and Proclamations through the Privy Council."

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It goes on to say that the King has a special relationship with the Prime Minister, and has the "right to appoint and also meet with him or her on a regular basis". The explanation concludes: "In addition to playing a specific role in the UK Parliament based in London, the King has formal roles with relation to the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."


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