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Encyclopedia > De facto head of state

A de facto head of state is an office-holder who fulfils some, many or all of the functions of a head of state. However legally they are not a head of state but simply act like a head of state in the absence of the state's legal and official, or de jure, head of state. Though a term originally coined for Republican presidents, a head of state or chief of state is now universally known as the chief public representative of a nation-state, federation or commonwealth, whose role generally includes personifying the continuity and legitimacy of the state and exercising the political powers, functions...

Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of CanadaThe Canadian Governor-General is sometimes described as a de facto head of state.
Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada
The Canadian Governor-General is sometimes described as a de facto head of state.

The term de facto head of state, though it has no constitutional status, is often used informally in Commonwealth Realms to describe the role of a governor-general. Commonwealth Realms, a specific category of state within the Commonwealth of Nations, are legally constitutional monarchies, all of whom have their own legally defined monarchy but who share the one monarch, whomever happens also to be monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Governors-General are constitutionally the representative of the monarch in their state, through they may exercise some or all of their powers, functions and duties on their own constitutional authority as governor-general. Her Excellency The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, wearing the Order of Canada. ... Her Excellency The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, wearing the Order of Canada. ... A Commonwealth Realm is any one of the 16 sovereign states of the Commonwealth that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their Queen and head of state. ... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... Flag of the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of independent sovereign states, most of which are former colonies once governed by the United Kingdom as part of the British Empire. ... A constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges a hereditary or elected monarch as head of state. ... The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country in western Europe, and member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G8, the European Union, and NATO. Usually known simply as the United Kingdom, the UK, or (inaccurately) as Great Britain or Britain, the UK has four constituent...

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Constitutional status of a de facto head of state

De facto heads of state are usually marked by many or all of the following features:

  • The monarch exists in constitutional law, usually as a component part of the legislature
  • Executive authority may be vested in the monarch, or in the Governor-General on behalf of the monarch;
  • The Governor-General is appointed by the monarch;
The Queen of Canada, Elizabeth IIThe head of state of Canada.
The Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II
The head of state of Canada.
  • At diplomatic functions where the Governor-General is present, the visiting diplomat or head of state toasts "The King" or "The Queen", not the Governor-General, with any reference to the Governor-General being subsidary in later toasts if featuring at all. If a toast to a de facto head of state is made it will follow the toast to the actual or de jure head of state and will involve a toast to them by name, not office. (eg, "Mr and Mrs Smith", not "Her Excellency, the Governor-General". Sometimes a toast might be made using name and office, eg, "Governor-General Smith".) Heads of state in contrast are toasted by office alone, eg, "The President of the United States", "The President of Ireland", "The Queen", etc. In states with a de facto head of state, the actual head of state, as the constitutionally superior officeholder, is always toasted first and directly before or following the proposing of the toast to the other head of state whose representatives are visiting or being visited.

Chamber of the Estates-General, the Dutch legislature. ... An oath of allegiance is an oath whereby a subject or citizen acknowledges his duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to his Sovereign or country. ... A Letter of Credence is a formal letter sent by one head of state to another formally accrediting a named individual (usually but not always a diplomat) to be their ambassador in the country of the head of state receiving the letter of credence. ... A letter of credence is a formal letter sent by one head of state to another formally accrediting a named individual (usually but not always a diplomat) to be their ambassador in the country of the head of state receiving the letter of credence. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2000x2500, 759 KB)Queen of Canada - Wearing the insignia of the Order of Canada (above) & The Order of Military Merit (below) Official Photographic Portrait of Her Majesty The Queen of Canada The official Canadian portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2000x2500, 759 KB)Queen of Canada - Wearing the insignia of the Order of Canada (above) & The Order of Military Merit (below) Official Photographic Portrait of Her Majesty The Queen of Canada The official Canadian portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II...

On the diplomatic circuit

While a de facto head of state as a non-head of state cannot be automatically treated as a head of state internationally, they may be treated like a head of state on state visits as a mark of respect, not automatically diplomatic requirement. Buckingham Palace has in the past suggested that when Governor Generals travel abroad, they are doing so as the direct representative of the Queen, therefore, should be treated as the Queen would be treated. Buckingham Palace and the Victoria memorial. ...


Entry in office and its meanings

The lesser status of a de facto head of state is clearly indicated both by the manner of their appointment and method of entry into office. A full head of state could not be appointed by another head of state, nor could they take an oath of allegiance to another head of state, merely an oath of office to the constitution. Someone being appointed by, and taking an oath to, another head of state by definition cannot be a head of state, as a head of state's allegiance is only to the state, its people and constitution, not a constitutionally higher office holder, given that a head of state is the highest constitutional office-holder possible. A de facto head of state only exists where a full head of state exists already to fulfil a role that cannot be filled by the monarch because they do not actually reside in the state and so cannot take on the day-to-day symbolic and representational role normally performed by a resident heads of state.


See also

Crest of Governor-Generals Governors-General of Commonwealth Realms
Crest of Governor-Generals

Antigua and Barbuda | Australia | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Ceylon** | Fiji* | Grenada | India* |
Irish Free State** | Jamaica | Malta * | Mauritius* | New Zealand | Pakistan* | Papua New Guinea | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Solomon Islands | South Africa* | Trinidad & Tobago* | Tuvalu |
Though a term originally coined for Republican presidents, a head of state or chief of state is now universally known as the chief public representative of a nation-state, federation or commonwealth, whose role generally includes personifying the continuity and legitimacy of the state and exercising the political powers, functions... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... Image File history File links This image depicts a seal, an emblem, a coat of arms or a crest. ... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... A Commonwealth Realm is any one of the 16 sovereign states of the Commonwealth that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their Queen and head of state. ... Image File history File links This image depicts a seal, an emblem, a coat of arms or a crest. ... The Governor-General (Irish: Seanascal) was the representative of the King in the 1922-1937 Irish Free State. ... This page lists Governors-General of Trinidad and Tobago. ...


* denotes a former Commonwealth Realm that is now a republic. ** denotes a former Commonwealth Realm that is now a republic under a different name.

Commonwealth Realms
Antigua and Barbuda | Australia | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Grenada | Jamaica | New Zealand | Papua New Guinea
Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Solomon Islands | Tuvalu | United Kingdom
A Commonwealth Realm is any one of the 16 sovereign states that recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their Queen and head of state. ... Personal Flag of Queen Elizabeth II File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
De facto head of state - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (694 words)
A de facto head of state is an office-holder who fulfils some, many or all of the functions of a head of state.
While a de facto head of state as a non-head of state cannot be automatically treated as a head of state internationally, they may be treated like a head of state on state visits as a mark of respect, not automatically diplomatic requirement.
A de facto head of state only exists where a full head of state exists already to fulfil a role that cannot be filled by the monarch because they do not actually reside in the state and so cannot take on the day-to-day symbolic and representational role normally performed by a resident heads of state.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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