King’s ‘practical move’ as he proposes new royal substitutes

The King wants parliament to approve his request to allow Princess Anne and Prince Edward to stand in for him on official duties.

The King wants parliament to approve his request to allow Princess Anne and Prince Edward to stand in for him on official duties. Photo: Getty

The King has proposed his two younger siblings be allowed to step in for him on official duties, snubbing the out-of-favour Prince Andrew and Prince Harry.

The King’s request was made formal in Britain’s House of Lords on Monday (local time), when a change to the Regency Act, altering the number of working royals who could fill in for him, was requested by the Lord Chamberlain.

The King wants to add his younger siblings, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, as additional counsellors of state.

“Counsellors of state are authorised to carry out most of the official duties of the sovereign, for example, attending Privy Council meetings, signing routine documents and receiving the credentials of new ambassadors to the United Kingdom,” the King’s submission said.

Counsellors of state are authorised to stand in for the monarch if they are unavailable through ill health or because they are out of the country. The King and his eldest son Prince William stood in for the late Queen Elizabeth at the opening of parliament earlier this year, in their counsellor roles.

Under British law the existing counsellors of state are the monarch’s spouse and the next four adults in line to the throne – currently Camilla, the Queen Consort; Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, and Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice.

Princess Anne and Prince Edward have both previously held the role but have been demoted as they have fallen down the line of succession.

The change sought by the King had been widely expected as Andrew and Harry are not considered to be working royals.

Prince Andrew had his royal duties rolled back amid controversy over his association with accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Harry lives in the US with his wife, Meghan Markle, and two young children.

Royal expert Angela Levin told The Daily Mail the request was “a slight to Harry and Andrew”.

“But there’s a good reason and it’s necessary,” she said.

Levin said it was an astute way to take the Dukes of York and Sussex off the list and add practical alternatives in the Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex. But “Harry and Meghan would be absolutely furious’ with the decision”, she said.

“But [Harry] lives in California, he’s stopped being a working royal, so why should he [be a counsellor of state]?

“It isn’t about Harry”, but about what the King needed, she said.

Under the King’s proposal, Harry and Andrew will remain on the list of royals who can step in if needed. But adding Edward and Anne would give the King two other family members to call upon if needed.

The King and Queen Consort are expected to make an overseas visit next year, perhaps to Australia.

The Lords were expected to respond to the King’s request on Tuesday.

King Charles celebrates birthday

The King’s push for change came on the same day he celebrated his 74th birthday – his first since taking the throne.

The monarch spent the day before leading Britain in honouring its war dead during the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph. He was accompanied by other senior royals, including the Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales.

To mark his birthday, the King became park ranger of Windsor Great Park, which surrounds Windsor Castle. His father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was appointed to the role 70 years ago.

“The ranger offers guidance to the deputy ranger and his team in the day-to-day stewardship of one of the country’s oldest estates,” the royal family said on Twitter.

The role has existed since 1559 and is usually held by the sovereign of a member of their family.

Prince Philip, was the park’s longest serving ranger. He held the role from 1952 until his death in 2021.

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