King Charles asks for Princess Anne and Prince Edward to be Counsellors of State

King Charles III and Anne, Princess Royal  (Getty Images)
King Charles III and Anne, Princess Royal (Getty Images)

King Charles III has requested that his sister, the Princess Royal, and brother, the Earl of Wessex, be added to his list of people to step in to perform royal duties while he cannot.

The monarch has written to the House of Lords requesting that the number of Counsellors of State be increased to include his two siblings, if “Parliament see fit”.

The King’s statement said he wished to add Princess Anne and Prince Edward to his list “to ensure continued efficiency of public business” when he was away carrying out royal duties overseas or ill.

He said that the pair had both previously undertaken this role.

The 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 & Forfar, both of whom have previously undertaken this role.”

The House of Lords will agree an address to the King in reply to the message on Tuesday. It is then a question for the Government as to if and when they will introduce a Bill to action the King’s request.

It was widely reported in October that the King would be likely to increase the number of Counsellors of State.

His current Counsellors of State include the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry, who lives in California after stepping down as a working royal, and the disgraced Duke of York, Prince Andrew.

Both would share the responsibility alongside Princess Anne and Prince Edward under the King’s suggestions.

Provisions for the counsellors are made under the Regency Act 1937.

Those who can stand in for King Charles also include the Queen Consort, and the four most senior adults in the line of succession – Prince of Wales, Harry, Andrew and Princess Beatrice.

Counsellors of State are authorised to carry out most of the official duties of the Sovereign like attending Privy Council meetings, signing routine documents and receiving the credentials of new ambassadors to the UK.

But certain core constitutional functions cannot be delegated, like appointing a prime minister or creating peers.

It is rare for counsellors of state to be needed. But in May, Charles and William stood in for the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.

Prince Andrew, who is now eighth in line to the throne, has been in the role since 1981 when he turned 21.

However his connections with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, two convicted child sex offenders, has significantly soured the public’s view of him.He no longer undertakes any royal engagements.

Meanwhile Prince Harry stood down as a senior royal with his wife Meghan Markle in 2020 and moved to the US, where they now live with their two children.