The royal sign manual
is the formal name given in the Commonwealth realms
to the autograph signature of the sovereign, by the affixing of which the monarch expresses his or her pleasure either by order, commission, or warrant. A sign-manual warrant may be either an executive actfor example, an appointment to an officeor an authority for affixing the Great Seal
of the pertinent realm. The sign-manual is also used to give power to make and ratify treaties.
Some letters patent
are not signed by the monarch in person. Instead, the monarch signs a warrant authorizing the preparation of the letters patent (that are written in ceremonial calligraphy and on vellum) and approving the draft text of the letters patent. Then, once the letters patent are prepared, they are sealed with the Great Seal without the need for the signature of the monarch, because authority for issuing the letters patent was already given by the sovereign by means of the warrant. Those letters patent finish with the words "By warrant under the Royal Sign Manual," to signify that they do not bear the sign-manual themselves because they have already been approved by a previous warrant.
In contrast, other letters patent, due to the nature of their contents (such as those that authorise the expenditure of money, or those that signify Royal Assent
to Acts of Parliament
), need to have the royal sign-manual affixed directly to them. In that case, the letters patent will contain, at the bottom, the words:... Read More