The Channel Islands

The Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom, but are dependent territories of the English Crown. Both have their own forms of self-administration, although the United Kingdom government is responsible for certain areas of policy. The Queen has a special relationship with both Crown dependencies, and is known there by unique titles.

Situated 10 to 30 miles off the north-west coast of France, the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are dependent territories of the English Crown, as successor to the Dukes of Normandy. The Channel Islands have two main administrative units, or Bailiwicks, of Jersey and Guernsey. In each Bailiwick The Queen’s personal representative is the Lieutenant Governor, who since the mid-eighteenth century has acted as the channel of communication between the Sovereign and the Channel Islands’ government. The islands have their own legislative assemblies, as well as their own administrative, fiscal and legal systems. They have wide powers of self-government, although primary legislation passed by the assemblies requires approval by The Queen in Council (Privy Council).

The United Kingdom government is responsible for the defence and international relations of the Islands, and the Crown is ultimately responsible for their good government. In fulfilling its responsibilities to the Islands, the Crown acts through the Privy Council. The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor is the Privy Counsellor primarily concerned with the affairs of the Channel Islands. In the Channel Islands the Queen is known as The Duke of Normandy. At official functions, islanders raise the loyal toast to ‘The Duke of Normandy, our Queen’. The Queen has visited the islands on various occasions – most recently, in May 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of their liberation from German occupation.

Guernsey

The Channel Islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy when Duke William, following his conquest of England in 1066, became William I. In 1106, William’s youngest son Henry I seized the Duchy of Normandy from his brother Robert; since that time, the English Sovereign has always held the title Duke of Normandy. By 1205, England had  lost most of its French lands, including Normandy. However, the Channel Islands, part of the lost Duchy, remained a self-governing possession of the English Crown. While the islands today retain autonomy in government, they owe allegiance to The Queen in her role as Duke of Normandy.

The Isle of Man

Lies in the Irish Sea, roughly the same distance from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Crown’s personal representative today is the Lieutenant Governor, who is appointed by The Queen and who has delegated power to grant Royal Assent to legislation dealing with domestic matters. The Government, known as Tynwald, consists of two branches: the Legislative Council (mostly chosen by the House of Keys) and the House of Keys (which has 24 elected members). However, the Crown, acting through the Privy Council, is the ultimate authority, with the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor having prime responsibility as Privy Counsellor for Manx affairs. The United Kingdom government is responsible for the defence and international relations of the Island. On 5 July each year Tynwald Court assembles in the open air on Tynwald Hill at St John’s. During The Queen’s most recent visit in July 2003, Her Majesty presided over the outdoor Tynwald ceremony at St. John’s. The Queen is known in the Isle of Man as Lord of Man. The Queen has visited the Isle of Man on various occasions, most recently in 2003.

It has the oldest representative government in the Commonwealth. The legislative system was introduced around 800 AD when the Isle was part of the Norwegian kingdom of the Hebrides. The original government, the Tynwald, consisted of the King, two advisers, the chief officials and council, and the Keys, which was a representative group ‘of the worthiest men in the Island’. In 1266 the island was ceded to Scotland, and England later acquired it by treaty under Edward I. The lordship of Man was handed over to English lords in return for regular payments to successive monarchs. From 1405 to 1765 the island was ruled by the Earls of Derby, and later the Dukes of Atholl, as Lords of Man. The use of the island as a secure base for smugglers became such a problem that, in 1765, the British government gave the island its own legislature but required all customs and taxes to be paid into the British exchequer. The lordship reverted to the Crown, and George III became Lord of Man.