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The office (a corporation sole) in which supreme power in the UK is legally vested. The person filling it at any given time is referred to as the sovereign (a king or queen: see also Queen). The title to the Crown is hereditary and its descent is governed by the Act of Settlement 1701 as amended by His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 (which excluded Edward VIII and his descendants from the line of succession). The majority of governmental powers in the UK are now conferred by statute directly on ministers, the judiciary, and other persons and bodies, but the sovereign retains a limited number of common law functions (known as royal prerogatives) that, except in exceptional circumstances, can be exercised only in accordance with ministerial advice. In practice it is the minister, and not the sovereign, who today carries out these common law powers and is said to be the Crown when so doing.

At common law the Crown could not be sued in tort, but the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 enabled civil actions to be taken against the Crown (see Crown proceedings). It is still not possible to sue the sovereign personally.

Subjects: Law.

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