» Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Lord Chancellor’s Legal Advice (Royal Wedding)

Asked what kind of advice Downing Street was giving to Buckingham Palace the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that in terms of the advice we gave, as we had set out at the time of the announcement, we had to give formal advice on issues such as legality, which had been done. Today the Lord Chancellor would be setting out an explanation of that advice. Asked if there was any change to the question of legality the PMOS said that there was no change. This would simply be an explanation of the advice that had been given. Without pre-empting the statement people would be able to see that it sets out the position very clearly and the analysis that went behind that position. Asked if it was Downing Street’s responsibility to advise the Palace on whether they could marry in Windsor Castle the PMOS said that that was a decision for the Royal Family. Asked if it was still the Government’s position that no special legislation was needed the PMOS said that was correct.

Asked if the Prime Minister would still be attending the wedding following the news that the Queen would not be attending the PMOS said that he was not aware that an invitation had arrived yet therefore he preferred to wait until one had arrived as the polite thing to do was for the Prime Minister to RSVP rather than to make a public announcement.

Asked why Members of the Lords should accept the Lord Chancellor’s advice given his record on reporting legal matters and when one fact incontestably wrong about whether the wedding could be held at Windsor Castle, why should they accept what they were going to be told this afternoon, the PMOS said that people should wait to hear the statement first before attempting to dismiss it out of hand. In terms of when a law officer was asked for his legal opinion he could only offer his opinion, which was what the Lord Chancellor had done. Asked if any consideration was given to holding the wedding in Scotland the PMOS said that such issues were a matter for the Royal Family.

Asked why on the day of the wedding announcement people were not told the legal advice and why the Lord Chancellor was now setting out an explanation the PMOS said there was a distinction between advice and explanation. What was being provided today was an explanation.

Asked what precisely the Government had been advising the Palace on, the PMOS said that what the Lord Chancellor would set out today was the explanation of the legal advice we gave on the question of a civil marriage. Questioned further about the precise issues, the PMOS said he would not get into he details of the discussion between the Government and the Palace but in terms of the legal advice which he would explain today, it was on the question of whether there could be a civil ceremony.

Asked if the Prime Minister would attending the wedding, the PMOS said that he was unclear himself about whether the Prime Minister had received an invitation. However generally the Prime Minister would no doubt inform those sending the invitation rather than the press.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. So its still an opinion which means that if anyone decided to challenge the legality it would have to be decided in the courts.

    A change in legislation could ensure that no such challenge takes place – but the government doesn’t care enough to pursue that route.


    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 23 Feb 2005 on 5:41 pm | Link

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