Members of the Royal Family who can stand in for the King when he cannot perform certain official duties are to be extended to include the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex.
The monarch’s intention was announced in a signed message read in the House of Lords by the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Parker of Minsmere, who is the highest official in the royal household.
Charles said the purpose of the raise was “to ensure the continued effectiveness of public affairs when I am unavailable.”
State advisers, who can stand in for the monarch if he is abroad on official business or ill, include the Duke of Sussex, who lives in California after stepping down as an active royal, and the Duke of York in disgrace.
Arrangements for advisers are made under the Regency Acts from 1937 to 1953 and those who can currently replace Charles include the Queen Consort and the four oldest adults in the line of succession – the Prince of Wales, Harry, Andrew and Princess Beatrice.
Speaking at the Upper House dispatch box, Lord Parker said he was honored to present a message from the King “signed with his own hand”.
The independent interbank told its peers: “The message is: ‘To ensure the continued effectiveness of public affairs when I am unavailable, for example when performing official duties abroad, I confirm that I would be very pleased, if Parliament thought it necessary, for the number of persons who may be called upon to act as Councilors of State under the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953 should be increased to include my sister and my brother – the Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex and Forfar – who have both previously held this role”.
There were shouts of approval of “listen, listen” from the red pews as the king’s message was read.
It comes after Labor peer Viscount Stansgate, the son of the late left-wing brandon Tony Benn, recently questioned the current list of senior royals able to officiate when the king is unavailable, given that it included the Duke of York and the Duke of Sussex ‘one of whom left public life and the other left the country’.
Any changes to the legislation to increase the number of advisers are believed to be completed later this year ahead of the prospect of the King and Queen consort touring overseas in 2023, which could coincide with the fact that the Prince and Princess of Wales are also out of the country.
Councilors of State are authorized to perform most of the sovereign’s official duties, such as attending Privy Council meetings, signing routine documents and receiving credentials from new ambassadors to the UK.
But some essential constitutional functions cannot be delegated, such as the appointment of a prime minister or the creation of peers.
The message was also delivered to the House of Commons.
Raising a point of order, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said: ‘It may be useful to inform the House that honorable Members will have an opportunity to consider a response to Her Majesty’s gracious message prior to the debate on opposition day tomorrow.
“It may also be useful to inform the House that there will be legislation relating to this message which the House will need to consider in due course. If the House accepts the humble address as its first business tomorrow, such legislation will provide a suitable opportunity to discuss the issue that has been raised.