|Governor-General of Ceylon
|His Excellency the Right Honourable
|Queen's House, Colombo
|Monarch of Ceylon
on the advice of the Prime Minister
|At Her Majesty's pleasure
|4 February 1948
|Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore
|22 May 1972
There were four governors-general.
Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore became the last governor of Ceylon and first governor-general when the Ceylon Order in Council, the first constitution of independent Ceylon came into effect. He was followed by Lord Soulbury, thereafter by Oliver Goonetilleke the first Ceylonese to be appointed to the post. When William Gopallawa was appointed as governor-general in 1962, he discarded the ceremonial uniform of office.
When Ceylon became a republic in 1972 the post was replaced by the office of President of Sri Lanka.
The monarch, on the advice of the prime minister, appointed a governor-general to be his/her representative in Ceylon. Neither the monarch nor the governor-general had any direct role in the day-today administration of the country (however, both possessed reserve powers under the constitution which would allow them full control of the nation's governance whenever in their opinion a case of emergency requiring such action arises). Real legislative and executive responsibilities rested with the elected representatives of the people. During several periods when a state of emergency was declared the governor-general used his reserved powers. In the absence of the governor-general, the chief justice of Ceylon became acting governor-general.
The governor-general's powers and functions was informally divided into three areas: powers exercised on the advice of the prime minister, discretionary powers exercised on own ceremonial and social.
The governor-general was required to assent all bills passed in parliament to become an Act, by convention all bills received assent. In addition, the constitution and other legislation granted the governor-general powers to be carried out on advice of the prime minister, these included;
- Appointment of public inquires
- Command of the armed forces
- Ability to declare a state of emergency under the Public Security Ordinance.
- Summoning of parliament
- Marking appointments;
- Members of the Senate of Ceylon
- Six appointed members of the House of Representatives of Ceylon
- Members of the Public Service Commission (Ceylon)
- Members of the Judaical Service Commission (Ceylon)
- Judges of the Supreme Court of Ceylon
- Ministers of Cabinet
- Parliamentary Sectaries
- Sectary to the Cabinet
- Permanent Sectaries
- Auditor General of Ceylon
- Attorney General of Ceylon
- Commissioner of Elections
The governor-general had the discretionary powers to appoint the prime minister, dissolve parliament and dismissal of a government that refuses to resign. The governor-general administers the oath of office of ministers and parliamentary secretaries. It is to the governor-general they would tender their resignations too.
The governor-general represented the monarch on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of Parliament, the presentation of honours and military parades. Under the Constitution, he was given authority to act in some matters, for example in appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service, in proroguing Parliament and so on, but only in a few cases was he empowered to act entirely on his own discretion.
The governor-general had a permanent staff that was based at the Queen's House to assist in execution of his duties.
- Secretary to the Governor-General
- Private Secretary to the Governor-General
- Aide-de-camp to the Governor-General
- Maha Mudaliyar (Head Mudaliyar)
- Office Assistant, Governor-General's office
The Governor-General several Extra Aides-de-camp to serve on a permanent or ad hoc basis. The Governor-General also maintained a ceremonial Lascarin Guard.
Following is a list of people who have served as governor-general of Ceylon.
|Term of office
|Time in office
|Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore
|1 year, 152 days
|Herwald Ramsbotham, 1st Viscount Soulbury
|5 years, 11 days
|Sir Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke
|7 years, 228 days
|10 years, 81 days
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