Royal Assent and the Great Seal of Scotland

Royal Assent is required for a bill to become an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

The monarch must give their consent for a bill to become a law. It is a final check in a constitutional monarchy that Parliament is doing a proper job in passing laws that will be suitable for the country. Nowadays, it is considered a formality, as the monarch very rarely withholds royal assent.

How does Royal Assent happen?

  • The day after the Bill is passed in the Scottish Parliament letters are sent to the law officers (Advocate General for Scotland, the Lord Advocate and the Attorney General) advising them of the four week period in which they can raise legal objection to the Bill.
  • If no objection is made by the law officers, or the four week period has passed, the Presiding Officer writes to Her Majesty The Queen enclosing the Bill and a Royal Warrant for signature – these are then delivered to Buckingham Palace.
  • When the Bill and Royal Warrant are returned to the Scottish Parliament, the Warrant is hand-stitched together.
  • The documents are then delivered to Registers of Scotland, followed by the National Records of Scotland, in Edinburgh, where the Great Seal of Scotland is applied.
  • Notices are then placed in the official journals of record: the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes signalling that Royal Assent has been given.
    In all of the 200 Acts of the Scottish Parliament the Great Seal of Scotland has been made using beeswax supplied by a specialist firm in East Lothian. The process of making the Great Seal of Scotland has changed very little over 800 years.
  • The Royal Warrant is prepared

    The Royal Warrant is prepared. Holes are punched in the document signed by HM The Queen. 

  • The Royal Warrant is prepared

    Once the holes have been punched, red ribbon is threaded through to hold the Royal Warrant together.

  • The Royal Warrant

    Once the Royal Warrant is prepared, it is ready to have the Great Seal of Scotland attached.

  • Making the Seal

    Douglas Campbell of National Records of Scotland who makes the Great Seal of Scotland pictured at work making the Great Seal which will go on the 200th Act of the Scottish Parliament.

  • Making the Seal

    The sliver moulds bearing an image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, held at National Records of Scotland, are used to make the Great Seal of Scotland. Once made, the seal will be attached to the Royal Warrant.

  • The Great Seal

    The sliver moulds bearing an image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, held at National Records of Scotland, are used to make the Great Seal of Scotland. The moulds are engraved with detailed images.

  • Storing the Seal Moulds

    The Great Seal is kept in a special case when it is not being used.

  • Pouring Beeswax

    Coloured beeswax from East Lothian is poured in to silver moulds to make the Great Seal of Scotland.

  • Leaving the wax to set

    After the wax is poured in, the moulds are put together and the wax is left to set.

  • Removing the Seal

    Once the wax is set, the Seal can be removed from the moulds.

  • The Current Seal

    The current Great Seal of Scotland with the image of HM The Queen

  • The Completed Act

    The Great Seal is attached to the Royal Warrant and the Act is now complete. This is the 200th Act of the Scottish Parliament.

  • The current Great Seal of Scotland

    The current Great Seal of Scotland shows the image of HM The Queen. Each monarch has a different seal.

  • The Seals of previous monarchs

    The Great Seals of previous monarchs.