Minor British Institutions: The Privy Council

Author: By Sean O’Grady

Nowadays it has only ceremonial powers, but it can stop you getting hanged in
some Caribbean territories, and has “purview” over royal chartered
bodies such as universities. The majority of its activities are a harmless
waste of Privy Counsellors’ time, but in return they, usually important
politicos, get to call themselves “Right Honourable”.

They can talk to each other on “Privy Council” terms, which
presumably is when they speak the truth: hence the wording of the Council’s
oath, which dates back to Tudor times, to “keep secret all matters …
revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council”.
Feeling paranoid now?

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