The Council of State (Statsrådet)
The Council of State (Statsrådet) is the Danish Privy Council. The body of advisors to the Danish Sovereign, the Council is a formal institution, with largely ceremonial functions. Chaired by the Sovereign, the council comprises all cabinet ministers and the Crown Prince or Heriditary Princess when he or she is of age. When unavailable, the Sovereign is represented by a Lord Protector (Rigsforstander).
Unlike its British counterpart, membership of the Council does not carry along with it a special entitlement (in the UK: "The Right Honourable").
In its beginnings, the Council was a place of debate amongst the ministers over government policy. However, since the formation of real political parties at the beginning of the 20’th century, these debates were moved from the Council to informal ministerial meetings where government policy could be coordinated - usually held every Wednesday. As a result the primary function of the Council today is to grant royal assent, which is done by the counter-signatures of the Sovereign and a minister. Before granting the assent, a relevant minister explains the general aim of the bill brought before the Council. If a bill is not granted assent within 30 days of its passing by parliament, it automatically becomes an Act. The Sovereign cannot be held responsible for any granted assent.
Besides enacting parliamentary bills, as a rule all government bills also have to have formal approval by the Sovereign and a minister, before introduction to parliament.
Approval is also given by the Council to all the Sovereigns doings as head of state.
Concil protocols are secret.
The Council and the Constitution
Article 17 of the Danish constitution (Grundloven) in broad terms set the rules for the Council. Article 18 of the constitution which allows for ministers to hold Council meetings without the Sovereign, a so-called Council of Ministers, is no longer in effect.
(1) The body of Ministers shall form the Council
of State, in which the Heir to the Throne shall
have a seat when of age. The Council of State
shall be presided over by the King except in the
instance mentioned in section 8, and in instances
where the legislature in pursuance of section 9
may have delegated the conduct of government
to the Council of State.
(2) All Bills and important government measures
shall be discussed in the Council of State.
From Council Presidium to Prime Ministers Office
From 1848 to 1918 the person in charge of the Council’s presidium (Konseilspræsidiet) wore the title of President of the Council and was the de facto prime minister. In 1918 the presidium had formed into a regular cabinet office and was transformed into what today is known as the Prime Ministers Office (Statsministeriet).
The office consists of the Prime Minister, a secretariat to the Prime Minister and a department headed by a permanent secretary of state. Besides being the office of the PM, it is also the ministry for the press and Greenland and the Faroe Islands.