The leader of the British Labour party Jeremy Corbyn will we be sworn into the Privy Council today amid fevered speculation in the press over whether he will kneel before the Queen and kiss her hand.
Corbyn was invited to join the Privy Council following his election as Labour leader and will have to decide whether to stick with the tradition of kneeling before the Queen during the swearing-in ceremony.
The question of whether Corbyn will kneel became a topic of debate because the Labour leader is a republican who believes the monarchy should be abolished. He even told a newspaper back in 1994 that “a referendum on scrapping the monarchy should be in our next manifesto, it would be very popular.”
The Privy Council is an ancient advisory body to the Queen that has its origins in the royal courts that have advised British monarchs since the eleventh century. Today the council meets as a formality to receive the approval that is needed to enact Acts of Parliament. Members of the council also receive secret briefings on national security.
Corbyn himself has allowed speculation to build over whether he will kneel, suggesting to the BBC that the act of kneeling might be something that needs to “change” and missing the first opportunity he had to join the council because he was hiking in Scotland.
His refusal to make a statement on the issue even annoyed members of his own party. The backbench Labour MP Simon Danczuk told the Sunday Times that by letting the story “run and run,” Labour have been prevented from getting their message out.
Despite all this speculation, it actually won’t be a problem if Corbyn follows tradition. The Telegraph reported that the Queen will be fine with it if he doesn’t kneel and there is a tradition of republican Privy Council member kissing their own thumb instead of kissing the Queens hand.
It’s up to Corbyn whether he decides to stick with his republican beliefs or to make a conciliatory gesture and kneel. We will find out what he decides later today.
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