An enforceable duty in the Oath of Allegiance

The provision of “Public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities” central to the Equality Act 2010  at section one was removed by a government Minister in November 2010.  Does the Oath of Allegiance require a public sector duty?

Under Queen Victoria the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 related to oaths taken by Members of Parliament, reads as follows:   “I ………. do swear that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria; and I do faithfully promise to maintain and support the succession to the Crown, as the same stands limited and settled by virtue of the Bill of Rights 1688 intituled “An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subject”, and of the subsequent Acts of Union with Scotland and Ireland. So help me God.”    (House of Commons RESEARCH PAPER 01/116 14 DECEMBER 2001, page 21).    (See Appendix for a list of officials required to take the Oath of Allegiance).

The current oath reads:-   “I………do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law”.  The oath or affirmation must be taken in English although the Speaker has allowed Members to recite Welch, Gaelic and Cornish forms in addition.  (Quoted from Wikipedia)

Securing the rights and liberties of the subject” per the Victorian Oath has now been excluded with no assurance of a legal certainty of a public sector duty.  Instead, there is a move towards ‘legal indeterminacy” with limited constitutional provisions to control the abuse of power. Is English law “nothing more than politics by another name” as law is recognised in the United States?

Clearly, the Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of the British Constitution but is it enforceable? In addition to “the succession to the Crown”, the Bill of Rights of 1688, in respect of the “pretence of prerogative”  declares : “All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws, statutes and freedoms of this realm”.

Unfortunately, there is no record of sanctions being enforced for violations of the constitution or the Bill of Rights by those who have taken the Oath of Allegiance.                There is a complete record of all Acts of Parliament since 1235 but no public record of acts of the prerogative.   There is also no record that “the rights and liberties of the subject”, the ultimate means to prevent the abuse of power, are being equally enforced.  Unenforceable rights appear to be officially accepted by the unintended indirect confirmation in the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee report (PASC, 2009) that the prerogative is still “unlimited”.

It all began with the three Duchy of Cornwall charters of 1337/8, when King Edward III authorised his son, the intended heir to the English throne, to exercise power only in Cornwall with: “the return of all writs of us and our heirs, summonses of Exchequer and do any other official act there”.  In effect this experiment in unlimited prerogative powers was possible by placing Cornwall beyond the reach of Magna Charta. The Duchy of Cornwall Management Act 1863 confirmed “regalities” as part of the Duke’s rights and powers.  “Regalities”  includes “a territory under royal jurisdiction”.  This rule by prerogative disregards the Bill of Rights 1688 which condemns the “pretence of prerogative” and, requires a public duty to “secure the rights of the subject”. The evidence suggests that Duchy charters authorise the abuse of power in Cornwall.  They are long overdue for repeal.

There are now plans for the Oath of Allegiance of the (government appointed) Attorney General to the Crown (appendix C) to belatedly include “respect for the rule of law”.  Respect for the rule of law should also apply to the Attorney General to the Duchy of Cornwall in his Oath to the Duke, heir to the throne. Recently, many who have taken the Oath of Allegiance assert, without providing evidence and as if acting by unrecorded prerogative, that the Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate.

It would seem contrary to all legal precedents to claim ‘private’ after relying for centuries on English courts to accept the opinion of Attorney-Generals that the first Duchy charter is an Act of Parliament.  An Act of Parliament was regarded as necessary to obtain judgements in favour of the many Duchy claims to property, mines and minerals in Cornwall. (National Archives, Law Officers of the Crown, 1913 ref:- IR40/16549).  The two subsequent charters, granted by private prerogative, add the extensive powers of the “King’s writ” etc, to the Dukes powers in Cornwall.

For a government sponsored Duchy of Cornwall dependent on the courts for economically advantageous  judgements based on a charter deemed in 1606 to be an Act of Parliament, no government can now ignore the ruling by those same courts that: “the public has an interest in everything that is done in the Duchy”. (The Lord Chief Justice, Rowe v. Brenton, Trial at Bar, 1828, (8B & C737), p.110, Concanen Edition.).  Government support for ‘a private estate’, to ring-fence both Duke and Duchy from public scrutiny and to limit public duties is in denial of Queen Victoria’s Oath of public duty to “secure the rights and liberties of the subject”. The evidence reveals that in 1337 Cornwall, as the English conquest of a Cornish speaking Celtic country, was requisitioned by private prerogative for the heir to the throne to govern the coveted Cornish tin industry with exemptions from English law.  The Duchy as ‘private’, does not acknowledge the benefits of the private prerogative powers of the Duke of Cornwall, it is, rather, after six centuries, an admission that the Duchy has no public duty and no democratic pedigree.  ‘Private’ prerogatives also create a state secret of the history and future of  Duchy ownership of Cornwall, the Celtic and complete mining heritage of Cornwall and the debt of the Duchy of Cornwall to the Cornish people.

The historic example of the constitutional position of the Duchy of Cornwall reveals the possibility of no requirement for an Oath of Allegiance office holder to act “according to law” where a private prerogative can be given precedence over legislation.   The nuts and bolts of the British constitution have been deftly arranged to ensure unlimited Duchy profits in a unique experiment in state controlled private enterprise designed to relieve the English national majority of their constitutional and public duty to pay taxes for the upkeep of the heir to the throne.

An independent process to resolve constitutional disputes is not in place.   This conclusion is supported by the absence of a constitutional court, a one stop constitution and the exclusion of the Cornish from the Framework Convention for National Minorities.   These omissions intend that an effective remedy for violations of the constitutional: “rights and liberties of the subject” (Bill of Rights) and “public sector duty” (Equality Act) is not available for the Cornish national minority to challenge the Duchy of Cornwall charters.

When will the British public be asked whether they want their “rights and liberties” reinstated in the Oath of Allegiance as an enforceable public duty?

© Save Cornwall  – September 2011


A. “Oaths of allegiance to the Crown are fairly common in British public life and approximate to those in other countries where a declaration of loyalty is made to the State. Oaths of office and judicial oaths are required from, for example: Ministers of State, judges, justices of the peace and other holders of executive and judicial office. Special oaths are required on taking up other offices or dignities: an oath of homage by archbishops and bishops, a parliamentary oath by Members of Parliament and Peers, as well as the oaths required, for example, of Privy Counsellors, members of the clergy, the armed services, police constables and of aliens upon naturalization. A coronation oath is also sworn by the Monarch”.  (House of Commons RESEARCH PAPER 01/116 14 DECEMBER 2001, page 9).

B. Office-holders  (Quoted from Wikipedia)

The Oath of Allegiance or Official Oath is made by each of the following office-holders as soon as may be after his acceptance of office:

C. A new protocol published today has been agreed with the three prosecuting departments which sets out how the relationship is to work in practice, to safeguard the independence of the prosecutors while enabling the Attorney to be properly accountable to Parliament and the public. Copies of the protocol have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.   It is intended to amend the Attorney-General’s oath of office to include a specific reference to respect for the rule of law.   (House of Commons Hansard, 21 July 2009, Column 132WS).

An enforceable duty in the Oath of Allegiance

© Save Cornwall  – September 2011

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