Corbyn’s new Shadow Chancellor won’t kneel for Queen at Privy Council meeting

Following in Jeremy Corbyn’s footsteps, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell will not kneel for The Queen or kiss her hand when he becomes a Privy Counsellor, The Telegraph reports.

Mr McDonnell, who took on the role following the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle just last week, is to become a member of the Privy Council in early February. Like the leader of the party, he will be entitled to receive sensitive information relating to national security and finance, and be styled ‘Right Honourable’.

But he has taken the decision to not follow the traditions of the ceremony, of kneeling in front of The Queen and kissing her hand.

Corbyn did not kneel for Her Majesty, nor kiss her hand, to become a member of the Privy Council. He revealed he shook hands with The Queen ‘like adults’, he said.


The Privy Council is centuries old, dating back to the Normans, when Monarchs were advised by those at Court. It is the oldest legislative assembly. An oath is sworn to the Sovereign, and the new member kneels and then kisses their hand to become a Privy Counsellor, which is a role held for life, unless the member resigns.

Three shadow cabinet ministers publicly indicated that they could quit if he abandons support for the Trident nuclear deterrent. Mr Corbyn faced embarrassment in his reshuffle, which ended up being just three positions, when two front-benchers quit in defiance of the Labour leader.

Labour sources, report The Telegraph, said that Mr McDonnell will ‘abide by any rules in place’ but that ‘as we saw with Jeremy, kneeling is no longer required’.


One MP, also a Privy Counsellor, said that Corbyn is setting a ‘precedent’ of not following the customs to be admitted to the council, of kneeling before The Queen.

“First Jeremy Corbyn refused to bow and now his shadow chancellor is going to do the same thing – it sets a precedent and is not sufficiently respectful,” the MP said.

This oath is agreed to by those to be admitted to the council:

“You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto The Queen’s Majesty as one of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done or spoken against Her Majesty’s Person, Honour, Crown or Dignity Royal, but you will let and withstand the same to the uttermost of your power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will in all things to be moved, treated and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your mind and opinion, according to your heart and conscience; and will keep secret all matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in council. And if any of the said Treaties or Councils shall touch any of the Counsellors, you will not reveal it unto him, but will keep the same until such time as, by Consent of Her Majesty, or fo the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance unto the Queen’s Majesty; and will assit and defend all Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences and Authorities granted to her Her Majesty and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a Faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty. So help you God.”

Taken from: “By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council”, by David Rogers (Biteback)

What do you think of Mr McDonnell’s decision to not kneel?

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1 comment

Richard Stevens Fri 15 January, 2016 - 5:52 am

Don’t make him a member of the Privy Council.
Problem solved and he is not required to upset any of his beliefs.
Perhaps he could spend his time instead kissing a picture of Joseph Stalin.


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