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|Monarchy of the Irish Free State|
|First monarch||George V|
|Last monarch||George VI|
|Formation||6 December 1922|
|Abolition||29 December 1937|
From its foundation on 6 December 1922 until 11 December 1936, the Irish Free State was in accordance with its constitution, governed formally under a form of constitutional monarchy. The monarch exercised a number of important duties, including appointing the cabinet, dissolving the legislature and promulgating laws. Nonetheless, by convention the monarch's role was largely ceremonial and exercised on his behalf by his official representative, the governor-general. The monarch's role and duties under the constitution were ended under a constitutional amendment adopted in 1936. From that point, the monarch no longer played any role in appointing the cabinet, dissolving the legislature or promulgating laws. Nor was the monarch mentioned anywhere in the constitution. Under separate legislation also adopted in 1936 it was provided that Irish diplomatic representatives would be appointed on the authority of the cabinet alone and international agreements would be concluded with the authority of the cabinet alone. At the same time, that legislation also created a new role for the king in his capacity as the "symbol of [the] co-operation" of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa for so long as the Irish Free State was associated with those states. The new role of the king in that capacity alone was to act on behalf of the Irish government with respect to the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements when advised by the cabinet so to do. The role of the king in acting on behalf of the Irish government with respect to appointing diplomats was not ended until 1949 and under United Kingdom law the king is regarded as having been the sovereign until that time but not under Irish law.
The monarch's title in the Irish Free State was exactly the same as it was elsewhere in the British Empire, being
The reason the monarch's title changed in 1927 was because the term "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" had been superseded by the establishment of the Irish Free State and the renaming of the UK as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Rather than draw attention to the partition of Ireland, the monarch's title simply referred to Great Britain and Ireland. This change did not mean the monarch adopted different crowns for different realms; that development did not formally occur until 1953.
Under the Free State constitution, members of the Oireachtas were required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Free State with a promise of fidelity--but not allegiance--to the monarch before being permitted to assume their seats. This oath was strongly objected to by many republicans and was one of the causes of the Irish Civil War. The oath was eventually abolished in 1933. The Oath of Allegiance read as follows:
Fianna Fáil came to power after the 1932 election and reduced the role of the monarchy. The oath of fidelity to the king required of legislators and ministers was abolished. A compliant governor-general was appointed, Domhnall Ua Buachalla, who withdrew from all public and ceremonial roles, performing in a perfunctory manner the minimum duties required by the Constitution. No treaties requiring the assent of the king as head of state were signed from 1931 to 1937; two methods were used to circumvent this: bilateral treaties were concluded at government rather than head-of-state level; for multilateral treaties, the Free State chose, not to enrol at inauguration via the king's signature, but instead to accede a few months later via the signature of the Minister for External Affairs.
In 1936, the government of Éamon de Valera carried out a major revision of the constitution aimed at all but eliminating the role of the monarch in the Irish state. The parliament passed the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act 1936, which removed all explicit reference to the monarch from the constitution, abolished the office of governor-general, and shared all of the monarch's former functions amongst various other organs of government.
However, without mentioning him by name, the amendment also introduced a provision permitting the government to "avail of" the monarch as a "constitutional organ" for the "appointment of diplomatic and consular agents and the conclusion of international agreements". Thus, henceforth, the sovereign's role was restricted to diplomatic and foreign affairs, a standard head of state role. The monarch retained no other constitutional role internally in the life of the Irish state and was relegated in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland to being an unnamed "organ" used by the state should it choose in statute law to do so. The role continued until the enactment of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, by which it was transferred to the President of Ireland. At that time, the new republic also ceased to be a member of the British Commonwealth.
|Reign||Governors-General||Presidents of the Executive Council|
|6 December 1922||20 January 1936||Timothy Healy (1922-28)
James McNeill (1928-32)
Domhnall Ua Buachalla (1932-36)
|W. T. Cosgrave (1922-32)|
Éamon de Valera (1932-36)
|20 January 1936||11 December 1936||Domhnall Ua Buachalla (1932-36)||Éamon de Valera (1932-36)|
|11 December 1936||29 December 1937||Office abolished||Éamon de Valera (1936-37)|