The Privy Council is one of the oldest parts of Government, but it has, over time, adapted to reflect the fact that the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. Appointment to the Privy Council is for life, but only Ministers of the democratically elected Government of the day participate in its policy work.
The Ministerial head of the Privy Council Office is the President of the Council. The Privy Council Office provides Secretariat services for the Privy Council (that part of Her Majesty’s Government which advises on the exercise of prerogative powers and certain functions assigned to The Queen and the Council by Act of Parliament). Much of the day-to-day work of the Privy Council Office is concerned with the affairs of Chartered Bodies, the 900 or so institutions, charities and companies who are incorporated by Royal Charter. The Privy Council also has an important part to play in respect of certain statutory regulatory bodies covering a number of professions and in the world of higher education.
Another major function of the Privy Council, exercised through its Judicial Committee, is the provision of a final Court of Appeal for the the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and for those Commonwealth countries that have retained the appeal to Her Majesty in Council or, in the case of Republics, to the Judicial Committee. The Judicial Committee also deals with appeals from veterinary disciplinary bodies and in certain ecclesiastical cases. The Committee consists of the Supreme Court Justices and some senior Commonwealth Judges.