What the trending phrase means after Boris Johnson’s resignation

After Boris Johnson announced he was stepping down from his role as British Prime Minister, many wondered what that meant for Queen Elizabeth – and whether the 96-year-old monarch would need to enter British politics.

Amid Johnson’s announcement on Thursday, the phrase “Activate the Queen” started trending on Twitter. It seems to come from The times Publisher Jack Blackburn answer to a tweet by Whitehall correspondent Mikey Smith, who claimed a source said Johnson would not voluntarily resign and would force a vote.

“That would activate the queen,” Blackburn replied to the scenario. “The Lascelles Principles will direct you to reject his request for dissolution. She then has the choice to fire him or not.”

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Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth

However, Johnson announced his resignation outside No 10 Downing Street on Thursday after losing the confidence of his Cabinet – leaving Queen Elizabeth out of a difficult position in a political storm.

Johnson was elected prime minister in July 2019. He now intends to stay on as interim prime minister until the autumn while the Conservative Party holds a leadership election later this summer. As one of her duties, the monarch has continued to approve the new ministers recommended by Boris to replace those who have resigned.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II arrive during the G7 summit on April 11.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II arrive during the G7 summit on April 11.

Jack Hill/WPA-Pool/Getty Images Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth

However, the phrase “activate the queen” was too good for Twitter to do without.

“Listen, ‘Activate the Queen’ sounds like something you would yell during the final episode of an anime and I just have the utmost respect for it,” said one user said.

Other joked“Why is the lady activate trendy? shall we play chess?”

Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth

Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth

Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth

While the role of a British monarch is primarily ceremonial these days, technically it is within their power to dismiss a Prime Minister. However, it is extremely unlikely that the Queen would ever do so.

“The Queen’s power is based on convention,” Vernon Bogdanor, a government professor at King’s College London, previously said The guard. “She has pretty broad legal powers, but in a constitutional monarchy she should only use them in very extreme circumstances, which I don’t think would be the case.”

The last time a British monarch dismissed a prime minister was in 1834 when King William IV dismissed Lord Melbourne in favor of Sir Robert Peel. But when Peel resigned in 1835, the King had to reinstate Lord Melbourne to the position.

Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she takes part in the Reddendo Parade of the Queen's Body Guard for Scotland (aka the Royal Company of Archers) in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she takes part in the Reddendo Parade of the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland (aka the Royal Company of Archers) in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse

JANE BARLOW/POOL/AFP via Getty Images queen elizabeth

As head of state, Queen Elizabeth must remain neutral on political matters… after all, Johnson was the 14th prime minister during her historic 70-year reign. The two roles work closely together and maintain a close relationship, including a weekly meeting.

The monarch – like other members of the royal family – does not vote or stand for election, according to the royal family’s official website.

However, the Queen has important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the government of the United Kingdom. For example, while the British public elects a leader democratically, that leader is invited to Buckingham Palace for the Queen to formally appoint before it is official.

In a ceremony, the newly elected prime minister will be asked if he is capable of forming a government. Once the politician answers yes, a ceremony known as “hand kisses” takes place. In previous generations, this would have required the victor to physically kiss the monarch’s hands to prove his loyalty. However, today it is only a symbolic term to show that the government team has been officially appointed Ministers to the Crown.

The Queen’s political duties also include opening each new session of Parliament, granting royal assent to laws, and approving decrees and proclamations by the Privy Council.

Royal's VE Day

Royal’s VE Day

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Winston Churchill, King George VI and Princess Margaret

Winston Churchill was Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and then again from 1951 to 1955. He was the first British Prime Minister to work with the Queen during her reign when she ascended the throne in 1952.

The monarch was very fond of Churchill and sent him a handwritten letter after his retirement. In it, she said, “No one will ever be able to take the place of my first prime minister, to whom both my husband and I owe so much and for whose wise guidance I will always be so deeply grateful in the early years of my reign grateful,” according to Yahoo.

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The Queen’s 14 Prime Ministers (so far) have also cast the first two women in the role: Margaret Thatcher and Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.

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