Kissing Hands


Kissing Hands

To kiss hands is a constitutional term used in the United Kingdom to refer to the formal installation of Crown-appointed British government ministers to their office.

In the past, it referred to the requirement that the office-holder "actually" kiss the hands of the Sovereign as a symbol of personal "fealty" and "loyalty" to the Sovereign, that fealty and loyalty being a requirement to serve in the King's or Queen's government. In modern times, office holders are not expected physically to hand-kiss the Sovereign (although some have unexpectedly done so). Simply being received by the Queen is taken to validate the appointment, with this meeting being described as "kissing hands".

The invitation issued to a party leader to form a government is sometimes still described as "an invitation to Kiss Hands".

When appointing a Secretary of State (top rank in HM's government), the protocol also involves the delivery by the Sovereign of the seals of office into the hands of the appointee. This is also valid for other officers who are keepers of seals, such as the Lord Privy Seal or the Lord Chancellor, who is also keeper of the Great Seal of the United Kingdom.

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