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Walter Bagehot

Walter Bagehot was a nineteenth century British writer and editor of The Economist magazine.

In the 1860s, he wrote a book called The English Constitution which explored the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of parliament and the monarchy. While its references to the former have dated, his observations on the latter are seen as central to the understanding of the principles of Constitutional monarchy. He defined the rights and role of a monarch vis-a-vis a government as three-fold;

  • The right to be consulted;
  • The right to advise;
  • The right to warn.

Generations of British monarchs and heirs apparent and presumptive have studied Bagehot's analysis, which is now seen to be the definitive guide to constitutional monarchy.

He also divided the constitution into two components - the Dignified (that part which is symbolic) and the Efficient (the way things actually work and get done).

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