Monarchy of the Solomon Islands
|Queen of Solomon Islands|
|Heir apparent||Charles, Prince of Wales|
|First monarch||Elizabeth II|
|Formation||7 July 1978|
The monarchy of Solomon Islands is a system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign of Solomon Islands. The present monarch of Solomon Islands is Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the Queen of a number of other Commonwealth realms.
The Queen's constitutional roles have been almost entirely delegated to the Governor-General of Solomon Islands. Royal succession is governed by the English Act of Settlement of 1701, which is part of constitutional law.
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Sovereignty and allegiance to the Crown
The Commonwealth of Nations has fifty three member states, of which, sixteen are specifically Commonwealth realms that recognise, individually, Elizabeth II as their Monarch and therefore Head of State; Solomon Islands is one of these. Each realm, including Solomon Islands, is a sovereign and independent state. Elizabeth II exercises her sovereignty only as Queen of Solomon Islands and on all matters relating to Solomon Islands, the Monarch is advised solely by Solomon Islands ministers.
This arrangement came into being subsequent to the Balfour Declaration of 1926, which 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 (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, Solomon Islands has a common monarchy with Britain and the other Commonwealth realms, and Solomon Islands 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.
This style communicates Solomon Islands' status as an independent monarchy, highlighting the Monarch's role specifically as Queen of Solomon Islands, as well as the shared aspect of the Crown throughout the realms. Typically, the Sovereign is styled "Queen of Solomon Islands", and is addressed as such when in Solomon Islands, or performing duties on behalf of Solomon Islands abroad.
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 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 Solomon Islands — appointed by the Monarch upon the advice of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands. The Monarch is informed of the Prime Minister's decision before the Governor General gives Royal Assent.
Solomon Islands had gained self-government in 1976 following the independence of neighbouring Papua New Guinea from Australia in 1975. Independence was granted in 1978, establishing Solomon Islands as a sovereign democratic state, with the Queen as Head of State. The new constitution, providing for fully responsible status within the Commonwealth, took effect under The Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978, an order in council which had been requested by the House of Assembly. It was made under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act 1890, and came into operation on 7 July 1978. Under the constitution the oath of allegiance is a declaration of allegiance to "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors"
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 or she 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 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. 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 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 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 Solomon Islands 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.
All laws in 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 cognisable. 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 Solomon Islands the legal personality of the State is referred to as "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of 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.
- The Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978, Statutory Instrument 1978 no. 783.