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Royal commission

Formal body created for public enquiry into a defined issue in some Commonwealth monarchies

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A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue in some monarchies. They have been held in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. A royal commission is similar in function to a commission of inquiry found in other countries such as Ireland, South Africa, and regions such as Hong Kong. It has considerable powers, generally greater even than those of a judge but restricted to the terms of reference of the commission. The commission is created by the head of state on the advice of the government and formally appointed by letters patent. In practice—unlike lesser forms of inquiry—once a commission has started the government cannot stop it. Consequently, governments are usually very careful about framing the terms of reference and generally include in them a date by which the commission must finish.

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