The Princess Royal and The Earl of Wessex have become Counsellors of State for King Charles III. The bill to introduce The King’s siblings as Counsellors of State received Royal Ascent on 6th December and came into effect legally the day after.
It will allow the pair to deputise for the Monarch, should he be ill or overseas and unable to carry out official duties in the UK.
The Counsellors of State Bill 2022-23 was introduced in the House of Lords on 15 November 2022.
The bill was fast-tracked through Parliament, with The King issuing a statement on his 74th birthday ‘to ensure continued efficiency of public business’ when he was unable to perform any of his constitutional duties.
The full message read: ‘To ensure continued efficiency of public business when I am unavailable, such as while I am undertaking official duties overseas, I confirm that I would be most content, should Parliament see fit, for the number of people who may be called upon to act as Counsellors of State under the terms of the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953 to be increased to include my sister and brother, The Princess Royal and The Earl of Wessex and Forfar, both of whom have previously undertaken this role.’
The House of Lords responded: ‘That an Humble Address be presented to His Majesty to return thanks to His Majesty for His most gracious message regarding the inclusion of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal and His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex and Forfar among those who may be called upon to act as Counsellors of State under the terms of the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953, and to assure His Majesty that this House will, without delay, proceed to discuss this important matter and will provide such measures as may appear necessary or expedient for securing the purpose set out by His Majesty.’
The role of Counsellor of State belongs to the Monarch’s spouse, followed by the first four people in the line of succession over the age of 21, or 18 for the Heir Apparent.
At the beginning of the reign of King Charles III, the Counsellors of State were The Queen Consort, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Sussex, The Duke of York and Princess Beatrice.
However, The Duke of Sussex, The Duke of York and Princess Beatrice do not carry out engagements as non-working Royals, therefore new Counsellors of State were introduced.
The Royal Household also confirmed only working members of the Royal Family would be called on to act as Counsellors of State and diaries will be arranged to make this practicable.