Prince Harry and Prince Andrew’s royal duties are discussed in parliament for the first time as Lords question whether the dukes will be allowed to perform official duties for King Charles
- Peers in Lords asked if Harry and Andrew should remain as ‘counselors to the state’
- Constitutional experts think it’s the first time an issue has been raised in parliament
- Buckingham Palace has come under pressure to relieve the couple of their roles
For the first time, questions have been raised in parliament over whether Prince Harry and Prince Andrew can perform official duties for King Charles.
Peers in the House of Lords asked whether Harry and Andrew should remain as ‘Counsellors of State’ who can act as stand-ins for the King when they are no longer royals.
Constitutional experts say it is the first time the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of York’s status as advisers has been raised in parliament.
Buckingham Palace has come under pressure to relieve the couple of their roles since Harry moved to California and Andrew was embroiled in a US sexual assault case, which he disputed but later settled.
Peers in the House of Lords asked if Harry and Andrew (pictured at the Queen’s state funeral) should remain as ‘Counsellors of State’ who can act as stand-ins for the King, when they are no longer royals
Labor peer Viscount Stansgate raised the issue in the House of Lords, asking whether the government intended to change the regency law.
He questioned whether ministers should discuss ‘a sensible amendment’ with the king, adding: ‘Is the government otherwise happy to move forward with a situation where councils of state and regency powers can be exercised by the Duke of York or the Duke of Sussex? , one of whom has left public life and the other has left the country?’
The king reportedly wants the law changed so that his counselors are all royals, but that would require a change in the law.
The Regency Act of 1937 states that only the Sovereign’s spouse and the next four in line with the throne – who are over 21 years of age – can act as councilors of state.
The current counselors are the Queen Consort, Prince William, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and his eldest daughter Beatrice.
But none of the latter three is a working royal, while the Queen’s other children, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, are not included, as they are 16th and 13th in line to the throne respectively.
The king (pictured with Camilla, the queen consort) reportedly wants to change the law so that his counselors are all royals, but it would require a change in legislation
Royal experts have called on them to replace Andrew and Harry as they are senior working royals.
The Lord Privy Seal replied to Viscount Stansgate on behalf of the government, saying he could not discuss private conversations between ministers and the King or the Royal Household.
Any amendment to the Regents Act would be carried out “in close consultation with the Royal Household,” he said, suggesting the change of monarch could provide “a useful opportunity” for a review.
He told the House of Lords: “The government will always consider what arrangements are needed to ensure resilience in our constitutional arrangements, and in the past we have seen the entry point has proved to be a useful opportunity to consider existing arrangements.” .’
Councilors of State are empowered to perform most of the King’s official duties, including attending Privy Council meetings, signing routine documents and receiving the credentials of new ambassadors to the UK.
But some core constitutional functions, including dissolving parliament, appointing a prime minister and creating like-minded people, can only be delegated at the express instruction of the monarch.