Royal aide lobbied for changes to proposed traffic rules, according to reports

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·3-min read

A royal aide successfully lobbied on the Queen’s behalf to ensure national traffic rules did not apply to her private estates of Balmoral and Sandringham, according to reports.

Research undertaken by the Guardian into archive documents has found more than one thousand laws have been vetted by the Queen.

And the newspaper suggests the monarch’s advisers sought changes not only to a transport bill, but laws relating to national monuments and land policy.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh posing in the grounds of Sandringham House, Norfolk. Ron Bell/PA Wire
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh posing in the grounds of Sandringham House (Ron Bell/PA)

The Guardian’s claims stem from documents it has uncovered relating to the use of the Parliamentary procedure known as Queen’s Consent, where the monarch’s approval is sought before legislation – which may affect either the Royal prerogative or the sovereign’s private interests – can be passed by Parliament.

In 1968, Richard Marsh, the then transport secretary, wrote to the Queen requesting her consent for amendments to a new transport bill which would see all roads – including those on Crown land – face the same rules.

Matthew Farrer, the Queen’s then private solicitor, telephoned civil servants with an official noting he was “bothered” about roads on the Queen’s private estates, “which he certainly would not wish to see any traffic law applied to”, the Guardian reported.

Watch: Who is The Queen?

The Queen granted consent to the bill after an aide wrote to Mr Marsh, stating: “…I am commanded by Her Majesty to say that, provided the provisions of the clause do not apply to the crown private estates, and that the objections which, I understand, have been raised by the Crown Estate and the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall are satisfactory resolved…” the head of state gives her approval.

The Guardian has already reported claims the monarch’s private lawyer lobbied the Government to change a draft law to conceal her private wealth, revealed by the documents from the National Archive.

It has tallied the number of parliamentary bills that the Queen gave her consent to and found 1,062 instances, from the early years of her reign up to the present day.

Areas covered by the laws ranged from food policy to race relations and rules on car parking charges.

Graham Smith, chief executive officer of the anti-monarchy group Republic, said: “We’ve always suspected that there is a lot of lobbying going on behind closed doors, by the Queen and other royals, to protect their own private interests.”

The Queen reading her speech at the state opening of parliament in 2017. Carl Court/PA Wire
The Queen reading her speech at the state opening of parliament in 2017 (Carl Court/PA)

“This is a clear abuse of power for personal gain, and it cannot be ignored.”

“The arcane royal consent rule needs to be scrapped and the royal household needs to be held to the same standards as everyone else.”

The Queen’s Consent is at the behest of Parliament, with the head of state asked for her agreement solely on the advice of ministers.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “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.”

Watch: What will happen when the Queen dies?