The roles of the different elements of the British government can be a bit difficult to understand. The setup is called the Westminster system, or model, which has been adopted by a number of countries around the world, particularly members of the Commonwealth, which were formerly part of the British Empire.
Queen Elizabeth II has very little real power, but she remains to be the head of state as the British monarch, and ultimately, all decisions taken by the government have to be approved by the crown.
In reality, the crown can appoint or dismiss a Prime Minister, withdraw passports and can even make a declaration of war. In events where the crown decides to exercise Royal Prerogative, the decision handed from the monarchy to the Prime Minister, or even directly to a cabinet minister who then implements the decision on the crown’s behalf. The crown’s royal prerogative can also bypass parliamentary consent, although this is rare and only happens in extreme circumstances.
The Prime Minister of the day also has weekly meetings with the monarch where she can advise, express feelings and even warn her (in this case Theresa May) about the government’s work.
The monarch also has the prerogative to grant mercy, although capital punishment was abolished long ago. The power is still used to commute sentences where justice deems to have not been made. Amnesties are often given out on the Queen’s official birthday, The Queen can also appoint Royal Counsel and also bestows honours such as knighthoods and fellowships.
The monarch can abdicate, but Queen Elizabeth II has long maintained that she will not do so. In this case, the throne will pass to her eldest son, Prince Charles and then on to his eldest, Prince William. The official surname adopted by the United Kingdom’s Royal family is Windsor.