In English law and politics, the Privy Council originated as a council of personal advisers to the Queen. Today its functions are largely ceremonial, although its Judicial Committee functions as one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom, and also acts as the highest court for several other countries around the world.
All government ministers are appointed members of the Privy Council, an office they retain even after the end of their ministership. The Privy Council exercises executive authority through the means of Orders in Council, a type of statutory instrument. In theory, these are made by the Queen after consulting the Council; in practice, however, they originate with government ministers, the Queen and the Privy Council being a mere rubberstamp.
The President of the Privy Council functions as Visitor for several English universities, and as such can hear appeals from students against the university authorities. The President of the Council is a Government minister.
The Privy Council is also responsible for issuing and amending Royal charters.
See its website: http://www.privy-council.org.uk