Prince Harry and Prince Andrew’s royal duties are discussed in Parliament for the first time as Lords question whether the Dukes should be allowed to perform official duties for King Charles
- Peers in Lords asked if Harry and Andrew should remain as ‘Counsellors of State’
- Constitutional experts believe it’s first time issue has been raised in Parliament
- Buckingham Palace has come under pressure to relieve the pair of their roles
Questions over whether Prince Harry and Prince Andrew should be allowed to perform official duties for King Charles have been raised in Parliament for the first time.
Peers in the House of Lords asked if Harry and Andrew should remain as ‘Counsellors of State’ who can act as stand-ins for the King, when they are no longer working royals.
Constitutional experts believe it is the first time the status of the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of York as counsellors has been raised in Parliament.
Buckingham Palace has come under pressure to relieve the pair of their roles since Harry moved to California and Andrew was embroiled in a sexual assault lawsuit in the US, 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 working royals
Labour peer Viscount Stansgate raised the issue in the House of Lords, asking if the Government planned to amend the Regency Act.
He questioned whether ministers should discuss ‘a sensible amendment’ with the King, adding: ‘Otherwise, are the Government happy to continue with a situation where the counsels of state and regency powers may be exercised by the Duke of York or the Duke of Sussex, one of whom has left public life and the other of whom has left the country?’
The King reportedly wants the law amended so his counsellors are all working royals, but it would require a change in legislation.
The 1937 Regency Act states that only the sovereign’s spouse and the next four in line to the throne – who are over the age of 21 – can act as Counsellors of State.
The current counsellors are the Queen Consort, Prince William, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and his eldest daughter Beatrice.
But none of the last 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 the law amended so his counsellors are all working royals, but it would require a change in legislation
Royal experts have called for them to replace Andrew and Harry, as they are senior working royals.
The Lord Privy Seal, replying to Viscount Stansgate on behalf of the Government, said he could not discuss any private conversations held between ministers and the King, or the Royal Household.
Any change to the Regency Act would be carried out ‘in close consultation with the Royal Household’, he said, and suggested the change of monarch could be ‘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 that the point of accession has proved a useful opportunity to consider the arrangements in place.’
Counsellors of State are authorised to carry out 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 peers, can only be delegated on the express instruction of the monarch.
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