Not even the Queen gets a pass… or a passport…

This one, from the Daily Mail, has me scratching my head.

Can we see your documents please, Your Majesty… Queen faces anti-terror checks every time she leaves UK

By Jason Lewis, Mail on Sunday Security Editor
Last updated at 10:08 PM on 05th December 2009

The Queen is to be forced to go through an identity check every time she flies into and out of Britain.

For the first time, Her Majesty will be compelled to give her full name, age, address, nationality, gender and place of birth to immigration officials, who will then check that she is not on a list of wanted terrorists. [The Brits have yet another thing in common with their American cousins!  They are suspicious of 80 yr old grandmothers at airports.]

Foreign heads of state, including US President Barack Obama, and other members of the Royal Family will also have to submit to the security checks under new border controls, called e-Borders.

It is unclear how the Queen will be asked for her personal information as she is not required to carry a passport and would normally be met off the aircraft by her chauffeur-driven car. The new system asks for a passport number, expiry date and details of where the passport was issued.

Buckingham Palace has been warned that the Queen will not be exempt from providing ‘Travel Document Information’ (TDI), which will then be uploaded on to the £750million computer system at the National Border Targeting Centre near Manchester Airport.


I hope she will have to go through the horrible passport check line at Gatwick at least once.

Too bad the old passport office in Petty France isn’t still in action.  Her Majesty could stop in for a pint at the Buckingham Arms after filling out her royal paper work and approving her own passport.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Tom Ryan says:

    Does this apply to the Holy Father and is his legal name now: Benedict Ratzinger?

  2. Bressani56 says:

    I hope she has to provide her BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

  3. Mark M says:

    Well, I for one hope our stupid State backs down. This is Her Majesty, THE Queen, after all! I mean, for crying out loud, a Passport even states “Her Britannic Majesty requests and requires” yatta yatta yatta. It’s issued in her name, so why, for Heaven’s sake, must she submit to this ignominy!?

  4. Mark: ignominy … ?

    It’s ineffable, since we can assume that Elizabeth Montbatten-Windsor is at least consubstantial with Elizabeth II.

  5. Bress: I hope she has to provide her BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

    I didn’t think heads of state had those any more! 


  6. Tim Ferguson says:

    which surname will she use? Mountbatten-Windsor or Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg, nee Saxe-Cobrug-Gotha?

  7. mpm says:

    Mark M,

    That’s the bit I was wondering about myself! Sounds like we need Monty Python to the rescue!

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    Bress: I hope she has to provide her BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

    Why? Is there some doubt whether she is a natural-born citizen? Or even has to be, to hold her office?

  9. Mark M says:

    ah… the surname question. Good one!

  10. Joseph says:

    Why don’t heads of state have birth certificates anymore? They would not always have been heads of states, so would have one from before they were a head of state, surely?

  11. Jacob says:

    If I were the queen (in which case, I’d be a king, but whatever), I would not go along with this.

    People in the UK who are familiar with how far the royal person has been stripped of various privileges over time are welcome to correct me, but does not the queen have sovereign immunity?

  12. Nathan says:

    Joseph: Father was making a joke.

    In Christ,

  13. Unvanquished says:

    Ah yes, another sign of the goofy times in which we live. I remember about a year after 9/11, I was coming back with my family for “home leave” during a diplomatic posting in the Middle East. Despite the fact that we were traveling on U.S. diplomatic passports on government orders, we were singled out for “special screening.” I’ll never forget the absurd image of my then three-year-old daughter being thoroughly frisked as part of this. I told my colleagues afterwards that while Uncle Sam may trust me with a Top Secret clearance, he does not trust me to get on a plane.

  14. Mark M says:

    Jacob: you do have a point, royal prerogative and all that. In practice it rarely exists, but that’s not to say it doesn’t.

    I hope they find this Jason Lewis (“Security Editor”) to be a fraud or something, because I increasingly find it odd that anyone could compel the Sovereign to submit to this. Age, Gender, Address, Nationality…really!!??

  15. Clinton says:

    It’s odd how some in the British government delight in subjecting the Queen to petty humiliations. She’s done her
    duty in an exemplary fashion for almost 60 years, only to be pushed and pulled about by bureaucrats who are, after
    all, her servants under the polite fiction of the unwritten British constitution.

    His Heurmenuticalness posted a story months ago about some bureauweenies in the Brown government who decided
    that the ancient protocol of backing away from the presence of the Sovereign, so as to not show one’s backside, was
    a safety hazard (someone might trip and fall). The palace was informed of the change to the custom, and I presume it
    is now in play.

  16. lofstrr says:

    She needs a passport that says

    “If you are checking this, then you are a tool.”

  17. JARay says:

    Ah for the GOOD OLD DAYS when one could wander from country to country (even if they were at war) without any passport at all, just to sit at the feet of a Thomas Aquinas or an Albert the Great and hear what the great man was thinking on topics like The Immaculate Conception or perhaps The Trinity or how many angels one could sit on the head of a pin!

  18. Geoffrey says:

    Ugh! What happened to the idea of sovereignty? I hope the identification doesn’t say “Elizabeth Windsor” or, even worse, “Mrs. Mountbatten”! God save Mrs. Mountbatten!

  19. Animadversor says:

    You may read about the Queen’s surname and the name of her House at That said, their are those who would say that her family name, as distinguished from her surname and her House name, is Wettin

  20. She needs a passport that says

    “If you are checking this, then you are a tool.”

    Excellent, except I’d add “Bloody Hell,” probably at the end.

  21. Thomas S says:

    I don’t know where you all are getting these last names for the royal family.

    Everybody knows the STUARTS are the true line of succession.

  22. Johannes says:

    Dear Thomas S, I am sure you are attempting humour. However, as I understand it, Queen Elizabeth II is in fact descended from the royal line of the House of Stuart and therefore possesses the “true line of succession”.
    As someone who is both Scottish and British I find the attempted humour in this discussion rather poor. It’s a bit like someone making fun of YOUR family. You may find your relations infuriating but if someone outside the family mocks them, you feel hurt.

  23. shane says:

    Thomas, the “legitimist” successor to the Stuarts is not a ‘Stuart’ but a man called Franz von Bayern. All rather irrelevant given that all sorts of egregious succession disputes are lost in the steamy midsts of antiquity. I doubt there will be another monarch after Charles, and the Union is already living on borrowed time. An independent Scotland will not retain the monarchy for very long.

  24. Melody says:

    This sounds like a bit of media hype to me. I’m sure they would wave her right on through. It’s more likely that the regulations will simply require her to wait while her accompanying staff go through the procedures.

  25. Last names and noble genealogies are intrinsically funny. And since a good chunk of us in the US are related to some royal family in some way, we have as much right to joke about royal last names as anyone.

    What I think you’re not getting is that Americans _like_ noble names and royal families. (Which is easier to do when you’re not really dealing with tensions between monarchy and democracy, or classes determined by ancient history, but I digress.) We joke but don’t mock this stuff; we can’t. We don’t hate it or worry about it. Why should we hate it? Why shouldn’t we like your royals? As long as nobody tries to rescind 1783, we’re perfectly happy that you have royals.

    For further reference, you should also note that Americans generally think that red hair is quite attractive on women and men, and that if they ever joke about it, they don’t mean anything bad.

  26. Oh, and Americans think all UK accents are almost sinfully attractive, including all kinds of Bristol, Yorkshire, and various Scottish cities’ urban accents. UK exchange students usually have a lot of fun finding this out, although it takes some a while to believe their luck.

  27. Johannes says:

    Dear Shane, Prince Charles may or may not become monarch. “Franz von Bayern” is an utter irrelevance (as you imply).
    What makes YOU think that The Union is living on Borrowed time?
    The First Minister of Scotland’s proposal for independence is, as I understand it, that we retain the Monarch.
    Perhaps vainly, I consider myself a fairly intelligent professional.
    I and many of my colleagues reckon that Scotland will be better off as PART of The Union. I consider myself Scottish AND British. I see no reason why being Scottish should forbid me from being British anymore than being a Texan should prevent a Texan from being an American.

  28. Johannes says:

    Suburbanshee: you are right. “Noble genealogies” ARE intrinsically funny and somewhat absurd. Why should I respect someone for having a mob boss for an ancestor?
    Might I suggest, however, that we (Brits) have both a long and interesting history and killer accents?!

  29. shane says:

    Johannes, I have no problem with unionism. But a Cameron government will have to tackle some English grievances (the Barnett Formula, EVOEL etc) and will inherit a budget balance heavily in the red. This could alienate Scots who are disproportionally represented in the current government and an SNP establishment in Edinburgh will have great latitude to make capital out of cutbacks to public services (and they will be massive) while pretending that an independent Scotland wouldn’t have to do such a thing. Like under Thatcher, the governement at Westminster will be seen as “English” and the sense of national grievance will increase. Salmond does indeed pretend to want to retain the monarchy but he understands the art of politics. Most in the SNP are Republicans at heart, and if the political union were repealed, I can’t see an independent Scotland remaining in personal union for too long.

  30. shane says:

    One shouldn’t take the English for granted either. The more Cameron endeavours to convince the Scots they are better off in the Union, the more he risks arousing the increasing sense of grievance in England at the disparity in spending and public services.

  31. shane says:

    Suburbanbanshee, I think most people find monarchy interesting even on a purely sociological level. But the Stuart-worshipping that goes on some on ‘traditionalist’ sites seems to me to be a very French import, and more a reflection of their historic church-state conflicts. It certainly has very little in common with preconciliar British Catholicism in the 20th Century, or even historic Jacobitism.

    Though I am no whig or apologist for the Glorious Revolution, the Stuarts, with the exception of James II, persecuted Catholics and in the case of James I (and even Charles I) sometimes ethnically cleansed them.

  32. john 654 says:

    Two Words. How Stupid

    Maybe we did evolve from apes.

  33. JimGB says:

    As an American, I would not make a judgmment about the monarchy or whether the UK should be a republic (I am hoping we still have a republic in the U.S. by the time the current occupant of the Presidency gets through). But this is the tyranny of the bureaucrat writ large. These security measures were to protect passengers from terrorists and nut cases like the shoe bomber, not to impose an equality of idiocy on all of us. The same rationale causes security personnel to search octogenarians, lest they be accused of profiling. Does anyone seriously think the Queen and the royal family are dangers? To whom? Themselves? Who else flies with them? This is truly worthy of a Monty Python skit!!

  34. Tom Ryan says:

    Once the rapper Curtis Jackson was asked to produce some government ID and he pulled out two quarters saying: “Da government done made this and dat’s me: Fiddy-Cent!”

  35. Seraphic Spouse says:

    How ridiculous. I agree that this looks like yet another minor humiliation of H.M. It is also bloody cheek. Everyone knows who she is, and she is absolutely no threat whatsoever to national security. She’s spent her entire life in service to Britain. What’s next? Being patted down, searched for weapons and drugs?

  36. kbf says:

    You might be interested top know that the old Passport Office in Petty France is being refurbished for the Ministry of Justice and will house the National Offender Management Service which oversees the prison and probation services.

  37. Father Totton says:

    this is patently absurd! do bureaucrats turn in their common sense (not to mention their minds) upon taking such a job? The whole point of a passport is to identify an individual of relative obscurity as a citizen or subject of a nation or kingdom. Madness!!! It is like buying “security-friendly” shoes for travel, only to be met with the gimace of some disgruntled TSA agent who insists that ALL shoes must go through x-ray! Bureaucraticies set up hoops and make all sorts jump through them without regard for the original purpose of the hoop! Boy, I cannot wait for to get old and sick under Obamacare!

  38. wchoag says:


    But a clear example of what happens when a monarch abdicates authority and power to “democraticly-elected” governments so that said monarch may reign rather than rule. The heirs to the Inglorious Revolution are reaping what they sowed.

  39. medievalist says:

    You mean, HM [Her Majesty’s] Customs will be checking their nominal boss? Since the Queen has neither passport nor driver’s license, maybe she should just carry a postage stamp, coin, or bank note and say, ‘That’s my head on those, how’s that for identification?’

  40. irishgirl says:

    I have only one word for this-STUPID!

    Oh, for the days of absolute monarchy, when the Sovereign would say, ‘Off with their heads!’

    ‘Bureauweenies’, indeed!

  41. bookworm says:

    I suspect this is more about the government bending over backwards to prove that their security procedures apply to absolutely everyone, and don’t “profile” or discriminate against Muslims or persons of Middle Eastern origin.

  42. Mark M says:

    Thomas S:

    Point taken about succession, but whether Franz von Bayern’s claim is legitimate or not, Elizabeth is de facto, if not de jure, Queen of this and other lands.


    I’m a Scot. I pray we keep the Monarchy. The Scottish Monarchy too, remember. James VI = James I… our line, not the English, if you think hard about it.

  43. shane says:

    The Stuarts did come from Scotland, but the last monarch from the House of Stuart on the throne was Queen Anne. The House of Hanover, which succeeded it, was no more ‘Scottish’ than English.

  44. shane says:

    Monarchs are now chosen by parliament. The House of Windsor owes its position to the Act of Settlement not lineal descent from James I.

  45. Re: The Stuarts

    It depends on how serious people are. In general, monarchism here is a sort of historico-political hobby that just lends grace and romance to life. If I find some of our hobby monarchists stockpiling M-16s in the basement, OTOH, that’s when we’ll know they’re not really monarchists as a hobby, and we can strongly disapprove of them. But again, it’s amazing how much leeway a bunch of ocean can buy one in these matters.

    Something that touches us more nearly (like the US Civil War) is more prone to oscillate wildly in degrees of seriousness. But in general, Americans seem determined to tolerate a lot of “the South will rise again”, despite the fact that there are fringes of people who do take it seriously and have occasionally tried to Do Bad Things. Talk is cheap, thought is free, and the more people blow off steam about Lincoln and Sherman, the less likely it is that they’ll head north of the Mason-Dixon Line and set off car bombs. And they don’t. (Though you could probably get beaten up in certain bars for saying the wrong thing about the Civil War. But heck, there’s lots of ways to get beaten up in bars, if you want to find them.)

  46. bookworm says:

    “The more people blow off steam about Lincoln and Sherman, the less likely it is that they’ll head north of the Mason-Dixon Line and set off car bombs. And they don’t.”

    If you read “April 1865: The Month that Saved a Nation,” you realize that but for the grace and magnanimity of people like Lincoln, Grant, and Lee, the Civil War could very easily have gone on ad nauseam in the form of a guerilla/terrorist war (which had more or less already happened in “Bleeding Kansas” and Missouri) and we might still to this day actually have Rebels setting off car bombs north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

    Also, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. has several fascinating displays that show just how controversial, and despised in some circles, a figure Lincoln was in his time. If you think political discourse is “uncivil” today, you shouda seen it then!

  47. isabella says:

    This reminds me of when I go to the bank. The clerk says “Hi, isabella. How was your weekend?” and we talk for a while. Then she says, “Oh yeah, I need your password and ID to make sure you are really you.” We actually both think it’s funny, but we are becoming a nation of sheep anyway. It’s a bit much to make Princes go through this too – secular or religious.

    What next, will the Pope have to have a retinal scan to leave the Vatican?

    But regardless of lineage, didn’t the Queen become “Elizabeth of England” when she was anointed queen? I really don’t know, was just trying to remember the last time I ever heard royalty addressed by their birth names.

    This is actually kind of funny, in a bizarre sort of way. Who is running this world anyway? Night, night :) from a far North peasant.

  48. Supertradmom says:

    Obviously a politically correct way to seem like one is not racially profiling.

  49. Johannes says:

    Having read the story again, I’m not sure why anyone would believe anything they read in the Daily Mail.
    If there is a grain of truth to the story I’m sure the process would be merely a formality so that officialdom could be seen to be treating everyone in the same way. Not only that, there have been some horrendous security gaffs related to the royals in recent years – even people getting into the Queen’s bedroom (admittedly a while ago, but with her in it!). I think ordinary folks like us assume the security services are better at what they do than they actually are. We forget that all human beings are fallible.

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