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Sir Robin Janvrin, KCVO, CB
Principal Private Secretary to Her Majesty The Queen
23 March 2001
You were kind enough to invite a letter of amplification to accompany
our petition to Her Majesty. Thank you.
The Treaty of Nice raises issues of major constitutional importance.
directly threatens our rights and freedoms, and undermines oaths of
loyalty to the Crown. Such fundamental matters cannot be
merely the stuff of day-to-day politics. They directly concern the
Crown, the constitution and every British subject, including generations
We find ourselves living in exceptional times, which call for
exceptional measures. Hence our petition to Her Majesty, which
exercises rights unused for over 300 years - clause 61 of Magna Carta,
which were reinforced by article 5 of the Bill of Rights.
As you know, the wording of clause 61 says: ...and, laying the
transgression before us, petition to have that transgression redressed
without delay...And we shall procure nothing from anyone, directly or
indirectly, whereby any part of these concessions and liberties might be
revoked or diminished; and if any such things has been procured, let it
be void and null.
We have petitioned Her Majesty to withhold the Royal Assent from any
Bill seeking to ratify the Treaty of Nice because there is clear
evidence (which we shall address in a moment) that it is in direct
conflict with the Constitution of the United Kingdom. It conflicts
Magna Carta, with the Declaration and Bill of Rights and, above all,
with Her Majestys Coronation Oath and the Oaths of Office of Her
Majestys ministers. Every one of these protections stand to this
which is why they are now being invoked by our petition.
Ultimately, our supreme protection is Her Majestys obligations under
the Coronation Oath. The Queen has solemnly promised to govern the
peoples of the United Kingdom according to the Statutes in Parliament
agreed on and according to their laws and customs. Her Majesty
swore to preserve all rights and privileges as by law do or shall
appertain to any of them.
>From the spiritual point of view, it is unimaginable that Her
would seek, in effect, a divorce from her duty. From a
of view, the Coronation Oath is a signed contract.
Recent statements by ministers, and by the previous prime minister,
confirm that they would not advise any measure which might tend to
breach the Coronation Oath nor betray Her Majestys promise to her loyal
subjects. Her Majesty accepts the advice of her ministers.
it is their duty to advise in accordance with the Coronation Oath.
cannot lawfully advise a breach. Nor can they gain or remain in
without swearing allegiance to the Crown. Yet the Treaty of Nice
represents precisely such a breach, and it has now been signed by the
foreign secretary using the Royal Prerogative.
Blackstones Commentaries (volume 1, page 239) says of the Royal
Prerogative: The splendour, rights, and powers of the Crown were
attached to it for the benefit of the people. They form part of,
are, generally speaking, as ancient as the law itself . De
regis is merely declaratory of the common law...
The duties arising from the relation of sovereign and subject are
reciprocal. Protection, that is, the security and governance of
dominions according to law, is the duty of the sovereign; and allegiance
and subjection, with reference to the same criterion, the constitution
and laws of the country, form, in return, the duty of the governed
have alreadyobserved that the prerogatives are vested in him for the
benefit of his subjects, and that his Majesty is under, and not above,
For such words to have meaning, the act of signing the Treaty of Nice by
the foreign secretary demonstrates that ministers have de facto
renounced their oaths of allegiance.
Indeed, faced in due course with a Bill seeking ratification of the
Treaty of Nice, the only options appear to be for Her Majesty to
dissolve Parliament, or for the government to resign and fight an
election on the issue. The ex-government would then be faced with
seeking elective power to introduce new oaths of loyalty under a new
constitution as part of their new manifesto. This would distil the
issues as perhaps nothing else might, since it would allow the people of
the United Kingdom to decide whether or not they wished the constitution
to be breached in this way, their rights and freedoms to be curtailed,
and the position, powers and responsibilities of their sovereign to be
Of course, for the many thousands of subjects who have supported our
petition, no such option exists.
As the Act of Supremacy and the Bill of Rights put it: all usurped and
foreign power and authoritymay forever be clearly extinguished, and
never used or obeyed in this realm. no foreign prince,
prelate, state, or potentateshall at any time after the last day of
this session of Parliament, use, enjoy or exercise any manner of power,
jurisdiction, superiority, authority, preeminence or privilegewithin
this realm, but that henceforth the same shall be clearly abolished out
of this realm, for ever.
So it is clear that no-one - neither sovereign, nor parliament, nor
government, nor people - may tamper with, dismantle, destroy or
surrender our constitution. We are all tenants of it, and trustees.
inherited these rights, and we have a supreme responsibility to pass
them in good order to future generations. They are not ours to
Which is why oaths of allegiance place an essential limitation on
parliament's power, and the Queens Coronation Oath is crucial. The
Coronation Oath is a moral obligation, a religious obligation, a sworn
obligation, a contractual obligation, a statutory obligation, a common
law obligation, a customary obligation, an obligation on all who swear
allegiance, it is the duty of government, and it is sworn for the
nation, the commonwealth and all dominions.
The Coronation Oath is the peak of a pyramid, and all subordinate oaths
are bound by its limitations. The armed services swear allegiance
the sovereign, not to the government of the day. This helps
principle that allegiance is necessary, and not optional - an essential
part of the checks and balances of our constitution. Without these
oaths, and their lawful enforcement, we have little to protect us from
government by tyranny.
We return now to our reasons for stating that the Treaty of Nice is
unconstitutional. Our petition highlights several such clauses.
draw particular attention to article 191, which seeks to restrict the
political freedom of Her Majestys subjects.
The EU seeks to assume the right to lay down regulations governing
political parties at European level [ie: in the EU] and withdraw or
prevent the funding of political parties which do not contribute to
forming a European awareness. This is a clear restriction of
speech and free political association. It also introduces two
particularly abhorrent propositions - taxation without representation
and the use of state sanctions to suppress public opinion.
Our political freedom is absolute. The Bill of Rights says so.
cannot be limited in any way. Her Majesty is rightfully inscribed
our coins of the realm as Fid. Def. and Lib. Def. - Libertatis
Defensor, Defender of the Freedom of the People.
It has been suggested to us that a referendum or plebiscite might be an
acceptable response to the question of ratification of the Treaty of
Nice, but we do not hold that view. A referendum or plebiscite
purported to make lawful the infringement of our common law rights would
itself be unlawful.
We come back to the oath of allegiance. Magna Carta says: We will
appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men
that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well....
can such officers of the Crown organize such a referendum or plebiscite?
These procedures would also infringe articles 1, 2 and 4 of the Bill of
1. That the pretended power of Suspending of Lawes or the
Lawes by Regall Authority without Consent of Parlyament is illegall.
(This must include the Coronation Oath Act.)
2. That the pretended Power of Dispensing with Lawes or the
of Lawes by Regal Authoritie as it hath beene assumed and exercised of
late is illegall.
4. That levying Money for or to the Use of the Crowne by pretence
Prerogative without Grant of Parlyament for longer time or in other
manner than the same is or shall be granted is Illegall. (This is
further protection of our common law rights.)
In the event that the Treaty of Nice is considered for Royal Assent we
respectfully request that Her Majesty grant us an opportunity to examine
the opinion of those who seek to alter our constitution by contrary
advice. Accordingly, under those same terms of Magna Carta
Bill of Rights quoted earlier, we the undersigned, and others -
formed a Barons Constitutional Committee to be available for
consultation and to monitor the present situation as it develops
..until redress has been obtained.
We are and remain Her Majestys most loyal and obedient subjects.
Massereene & Ferrard Hamilton of
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