Mix of languages

Prince Andrew and Harry will not stand in for King even if he is too ill to perform duties

Princes Andrew and Harry will not stand in for the King even if he is too ill to perform his duties, the Royal Family has confirmed. Members of the House of Lords were today told this measure will act as a “practical solution and safeguard to ensure that the machinery of government can continue”.

Buckingham Palace has told the Government that when Charles III is abroad, or should he become too ill to perform his duties, non-working members of the Royal Family will not be called up to fill in.

Instead, only working members of the family will be expected to act as Counsellors of State.

Discussing a new Bill, the Lord Privy Seal today told Parliament’s upper house: “The functions Counsellors of State undertake can include, for example, indicating assent to legislation, formally approving appointments, and providing authority for the affixing of the Great Seal to documents, such as royal proclamations. The role can also include convening Privy Council meetings where necessary.

“The Bill represents a practical solution and safeguard to ensure that the machinery of Government can continue.

“The Royal Household has confirmed that, in practice, working members – I repeat that – of the Royal Family will be called upon to act as Counsellors of State, and that diaries will be arranged to make this practicable.”

Both Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Anne, Princess Royal, have been added to the list of those who may be called upon to act as Councillor of State.

The Lord Privy Seal said: “They will undertake those roles for their lifetimes.

“By doing so, the Bill will provide greater resilience in our constitutional arrangements by widening the pool of Counsellors of State.”

Princes Andrew and Harry, however, having stepped back as working royals, will now no longer be able to be called upon to conduct such duties.

The Duke of York stepped back from frontline royal duties in November 2019 because the Jeffrey Epstein scandal had become a “major disruption” to the Royal Family.

He said in a statement at the time: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”

The Duke of Sussex later, in January 2020, followed suit, citing the desire of himself and his wife, Meghan Markle, to “work to become financially independent”.

Commenting on the new Bill, Labour’s Viscount Stansgate said: “This is a necessary Bill, and it should pass. It is also the case that we know why it is necessary.”

He also described the current list of people who can be called up to act as Counsellors of State – including Princes Andrew and Harry – as a “curious mixture”.

Others commended the addition of the Earl of Wessex and the Princess Royal to the royal list.

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