When executing formal documents, the UK queen writes in the plural "We, Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland..."
Church of England Bishops and Archdeacons do a similar thing:

"By the Tenor of these Presents, WE, GORDON, by Divine Permission Bishop of Southwell, do make it known unto all men, that on Sunday the twentieth day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-four, We, the Bishop before mentioned, solemnly administering Holy Orders, under the protection of the Almighty, in our Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin Southwell did admit our beloved in Christ, XX XX Master of Arts of Pembroke College in the University of Cambridge (of whose virtuous and pious life and conversation, and competent learning and knowledge in the Holy Scriptures, We were well assured) into the Holy Order of Priests..."
In a Notice of Excommunication, 1744, the Archdeacon used the plural form. "We, the Archdeacon...You shall certify to our Official, ...Our Surrogate"
Perhaps someone can say why this "formal plural" has developed and if it is used in other countries and by other dignitaries.
Alasdair Baxter, Nottingham, UK.Tel +44 115 9705100; Fax +44 115 9423263

"It's not what you say that matters but how you say it. It's not what you do that matters but how you do it"
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Perhaps someone can say why this "formal plural" has developed and if it is used in other countries and by other dignitaries.

I thought it came from the Pope saying "We" when he meant "God and I". Mike Hardy
When executing formal documents, the UK queen writes in the plural "We, Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom ... can say why this "formal plural" has developed and if it is used in other countries and by other dignitaries.

At a very wild guess, because the person writing it is speaking not in a personal capacity, but as the holder of an office, and the "we" therefore means "I, and my predecessors and successors in office".

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
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Thus spake Alasdair Baxter:
When executing formal documents, the UK queen writes in the plural "We, Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom ... can say why this "formal plural" has developed and if it is used in other countries and by other dignitaries.

The theory is that it was at the division of Rome. Each emperor spoke on behalf of Rome, and thus the other emperor. The Latin nos dates from there, and other European languages did as they did in Rome.
See something I have written on it here:

I think that's the second time I have pointed to that in the last six months. If it isn't in the FAQ already, perhaps it should be.
Simon R. Hughes
At a very wild guess, because the person writing it is speaking not in a personal capacity, but as the holder of an office, and the "we" therefore means "I, and my predecessors and successors in office".

Not only does this sounds plausible to me, but it could equally well apply to the use of the editorial "we".

Alec McKenzie
Thus spake Alasdair Baxter:

When executing formal documents, the UK queen writes in the ... We were well assured) into the Holy Order of Priests..."

Why do bishops write like notaries?
Discuss.

Ross Howard
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Perhaps someone can say why this "formal plural" has developed and if it is used in other countries and by other dignitaries.

Japanese contains (at least one) of the type you describe ("warera"), and AFAIK the practice was not borrowed from English or any Western language.
-Chris
When executing formal documents, the UK queen writes in the plural "We, Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland..." Church of England Bishops and Archdeacons do a similar thing:

Also the Earl Marshal, Garter King of Arms, and the Lord Chancellor, when executing formal Warrants and Writs.

Don Aitken
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When executing formal documents, the UK queen writes in the ... it is used in other countries and by other dignitaries.

At a very wild guess, because the person writing it is speaking not in a personal capacity, but as the holder of an office, and the "we" therefore means "I, and my predecessors and successors in office".

'We are a grandmother'?

John Dean
Oxford
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