Will he kneel? Jeremy Corbyn to attend first Privy Council meeting

Published: Wednesday 11th November 2015 by The News Editor

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Jeremy Corbyn is to attend his first Privy Council meeting, when he will be sworn in as a member of the ancient ceremonial body in front of the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The Labour leader, a lifelong republican, should, in keeping with tradition, kneel on a footstool and kiss the Queen’s hand, as well as taking the oath of a Privy Counsellor during the short ceremony.

There has been some debate over whether Mr Corbyn will be required to kneel before the monarch.

Mr Corbyn turned down the opportunity to attend the council’s gathering last month, citing prior engagements.

As part of the oath of a Privy Counsellor, he will have to vow to be a “true and faithful Servant unto The Queen’s Majesty”.

He will also have to swear not to reveal any confidential information he receives. Membership of the council is granted to the Leader of the Opposition to allow them to receive secret briefings from the security services.

Privy Counsellors can make a solemn affirmation instead, should they prefer not to take a religious oath.

Afterwards, Mr Corbyn will be allowed to use the title Right Honourable, which denotes membership of the council.

The meeting will be held, as is the norm, behind closed doors.

Mr Corbyn, who is known for being uncomfortable with the more formal aspects of his role, was widely scrutinised while attending the Remembrance Sunday commemorations last weekend.

He faced accusations from some media of not bowing deeply enough after laying his wreath while others backed his slight bow as acceptable. He was praised for staying to speak to veterans afterwards.

The politician previously attracted criticism for not singing the national anthem at the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary commemorations, but he joined in at the Cenotaph on Sunday.

Last month he wore white tie and tails for a state banquet held in honour of the Chinese president and had what was believed to be his first encounter with the monarch as the Queen greeted guests on their way to the palace ballroom.

The Queen is head of the Privy Council and the body advises her as she carries out duties as head of state.

The council also provides administrative support for the leaders of the Commons and Lords and has responsibility for the affairs of 400 institutions, charities and companies incorporated by royal charter.

It has a judicial role as the court of final appeal for UK overseas territories and crown dependencies and for a number of Commonwealth countries.

The body – the oldest form of legislative assembly still functioning in the UK – dates from the time of the Norman kings when the monarch met in private – hence the description Privy – with a group of trusted counsellors who fulfilled the role the cabinet performs today.

There are around 500 privy counsellors, but not all members are required to attend the monthly meetings. It is usually the Queen, the Lord President Chris Grayling and three ministers, plus any who are being sworn in. Discussions are held standing up, ensuring they do not last too long.

Published: Wednesday 11th November 2015 by The News Editor

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