The Privy Council is a centuries-old institution – yet, for an entity with such extensive influence over Britain's history, we know relatively little about it. What exactly does it do? To whom is it accountable? Just how much power does it hold over us? Some say it has no power at all, although you might not agree if you'd been sentenced to death in a former British overseas territory that still used the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as its court of appeal; or if you were a lecturer having a row with your college, where the University Chancellor was a member of the royal family. Or, indeed, if you were a Prime Minister trying to establish a Royal Charter to control the press. Traditionally an advisory body to the sovereign, the Privy Council's chequered past is full of scandals and secrecy, plots and counterplots – and while it may no longer have the authority to command a beheading, its reach continues to extend into both parliamentary and public life. In By Royal Appointment, David Rogers examines it all, taking us on a fascinating, anecdote-filled odyssey through the history of one of England's oldest and most secretive government bodies.