When did Prime Ministers and Parliament
become more powerful than the monarch?

This is the first of two linked activities:

• the first (this activity) explores ‘When did Prime Ministers and Parliament become more powerful than the monarch?’ by building a graph of royal and Parliamentary power using a set of cards

• the second ‘Why did Prime Ministers become more powerful than the monarch c.1780 1830?’ [ HERE … ] follows on by exploring why power finally shifted from monarchy to Prime Ministers and Parliament in the period roughly between 1780 and 1830.

Together the two activities complete the story of monarchy across KS3.

Although the Civil War figures prominently in KS3 the continuing story of the relationship of monarchy and Parliament can peter out in 1660 even though monarchs after 1660 still retained a great deal of power. If students are to have a sense of the whole picture of royal power then this post-1660 period needs covering – but quickly, without getting bogged down in too many Georges or the constitutional significance of 1688. [1688 is clearly a very important date to some people although my two history degrees and what is often known as a ‘good grammar school education’ never required 1688 to appear significantly on my radar. I suspect this is true for 99% of 12 year olds!]

This activity offers a quick way of giving Y8 students an overview of the pattern of royal power after 1660 – by building a graph of royal and Parliamentary power using a set of cards. This was originally created as a board game in SHPs book ‘King Cromwell?’ but it can be done in other ways than the board game in the book – hence this activity.


A WORD version of this activity and accompanying resources can be downloaded:

1. For a WORD version of this activity [ click here ]

2. King Cards (1 set of 6). To download PDF from the website [ click here ]

3. Information Sheets (1 set containing 24 Clues) and Summary Information Sheet (1 page). These are included together in a file for convenience, available in two formats:

• Ready for printing – a pdf [ click here ]

• In a word file – you can amend the text to suit your students [ click here ]

4. Blank Graph, available in two formats:

Ready for printing – a pdf [ click here ]

As a PowerPoint [ click here ]

Setting Up

There are 6 king cards. Each group in the class has one King card so you probably need to duplicate at least 2 of each card. If you want each group to track more than one king you’ll need more King cards.

Each group of students needs one set of the Information Sheets (two pages).

You need a blank graph on your board – see PowerPoint. The graph is also provided as a PDF so pupils can fill in individual copies.

You may also wish to use the Summary Information Sheet for consolidation so this would need printing. (This is the last page in the Resource download, coming after the clues).

The Activity

1. Organize the class into pairs or groups of three. Give each group one of the 6 King cards –their task will be to find the cards that relate to their king and add up his points score from those cards. [You then use the points scores for the 6 kings to complete the graph.]

2. Give each group a set of Information Sheets and explain their task. This involves:

a) Start with the Clue number on their King card e.g. Clue 17 for Charles II.

b) Read the Clue and keep a note of the points scored (e.g. 5 on Clue 17).

c) Move onto the next Clue indicated (e.g. Clue 15 for Charles II) and so on, adding up the points as they go. Each King has only 4 Clues to find.

d) Add up the King’s final score

3. Once all groups have completed this task then use the results to complete the graph on the board. As each monarch will be tracked by at least two groups make sure you use the second group to confirm the first group’s scores.

10 points or more means the monarch has more power than parliament. Less than 10 means the power is shifting away from monarchy.

The total should be:


Charles II

12 points

James II

10 points

William III

10 points

George I

10 points

George III

6 points

George IV

1 point


One of the subtleties is that scores tend to reflect the power of the monarchy rather than the ability of an individual king to use it – but with Y8 it seems best to focus on individuals than the concept of ‘the power of the monarchy’. Hence James II scores higher than events and George IV’s score maybe an exaggeration in the opposite direction– it reflects George IV’s inability to use the power he had rather than the power of the monarchy as an institution. Victoria did rather better playing the same hand. Feel free to correct the scores according to your interpretation of history!!



• What the pattern of the graph tells us about the impact of the Civil War – had it ended royal power for good?

• When the key period of change actually was

• What ideas students have picked up about why this change happened (this acts as a link to the activity on ‘Why did Prime Ministers and Parliament become more powerful than the monarch?’

Notes & Variations

1. You could ask each group to tackle more than one monarch - this would extend the length of the task and enable them to pick up more information.

2. You could use the Summary Information Sheet to consolidate the basic pattern of events.


1. Have students built up an overview and understood the purposes of the activity?

2. Are there any other topics that you could use this kind of activity to help with?

3. Does including this activity have any impact on the way you’ve covered monarchy and Parliament earlier in KS3?

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This Page



Setting Up

The Activity


Notes & Variations