Crown Dependencies: What is the Channel Islands' relationship with the royals?

  • Jess Dunsdon examines the history of the Channel Islands' loyalty to royalty...

The Channel Islands have a unique constitutional relationship with royalty.

Jersey and Guernsey are called Crown Dependencies, rather than being British Overseas Territories or forming part of the United Kingdom itself.

The islands are self-governing dependencies of the Crown, each with its own elected parliaments and separate legal systems, however, the Sovereign acts as the Head of State.

In the Channel Islands, they are often referred to as the 'Duke of Normandy'.

In each Crown Dependency, the monarch has a personal representative based on-island, who is responsible for communication between the Royal Family and the island's local government.

They are given the title of Lieutenant Governor - usually serving for a five-year term of office.

Timothy Le Cocq is Jersey's acting Lieutenant-Governor. Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd takes up the role in October. Credit: ITV Channel TV

The relationship between the islands and the UK is through the Crown and is not set out in a formal constitutional document.

Each island has total control over its own laws - including setting its own public holidays, which meant that even though King Charles III approved the day of his mother's funeral as a bank holiday in the United Kingdom, both Jersey and Guernsey's governments had to give their approval before the change came into effect there.

The UK government is responsible for the defence and international relations of the islands, with the Channel Islands Militia forming a sub-unit of the British Army.

As the Crown acts through the Privy Council, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor are elected as both the Privy Counsellor and the minister responsible for the affairs of the Channel Islands.

The 1973 report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution – which examined the structures of the constitution of the United Kingdom and the British Islands - referred to the constitutional position of the Crown Dependencies as ‘unique’.

It stated: "In some respects, they are like miniature states with wide powers of self-government, while their method of functioning through committees is much more akin to that of United Kingdom local authorities."

A 2010 Justice Committee report highlighted the "essential independence" between the Crown Dependencies and the UK and "their independence from each other".

The same report emphasised that the Crown Dependencies’ relationship is with the Crown rather than the UK.

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