Is this the picture that shows who will be in - and out - of the royal fold in 2021?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·11-min read

Watch: Queen joins Royal Family to thank volunteers at Windsor Castle

The Royal Family has been through a year of change unlike any other in recent memory.

The decision by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle appears to have helped speed up a long-held desire by Prince Charles for a slimmed down monarchy.

According to reports, Charles won’t have to wait until he is king for the wheels to get into motion, as the Queen is said to have decided that a smaller group of royals will represent the monarchy.

The Mirror reported the Queen came to the view the group of eight was a good idea when she hosted a carol concert to mark the end of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s royal train tour.

The Queen, at 94, has had to cut down on the number of in-person engagements she can carry out because of how vulnerable she would be to coronavirus.

It means that over the last nine months, others have stepped up more and carried out duties to ensure the monarchy is still seen.

She is reportedly keen to have them work together more as well, which could pave the way for more joint engagements, as was seen in early 2020 when William and Kate joined Charles and Camilla on a trip to Loughborough.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 08: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne, Princess Royal attend an event to thank local volunteers and key workers from organisations and charities in Berkshire, who will be volunteering or working to help others over the Christmas period in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle on December 8, 2020 in Windsor, England. During the event members of the Royal Family also listened to Christmas carols performed by The Salvation Army Band. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo - Pool/Getty Images)
Edward and Sophie, William and Kate, Charles and Camilla and Anne pictured with the Queen, centre. (Getty)

Prince William and Kate, who will one day be King and Queen Consort, recently spent three days touring the UK visiting key workers, volunteers and people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have also been out and about frequently, with Charles in particular releasing several video messages throughout the various lockdowns.

Read more: How well do you know the UK Royal Family?

Princess Anne has been quietly continuing with her engagements, while her brother and the youngest son of the Queen, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie have been increasingly visible.

Future decisions about the roles of royals will have to be made in line with government guidance, which the palaces have been careful to follow over the last few months. But the move would leave some in the fold - and put some out.

Yahoo News UK runs through the eight royals and the roles they could play in the future

The Queen

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08:  Queen Elizabeth II waist to thank local volunteers and key workers for the work they are doing during the coronavirus pandemic and over Christmas in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle on December 8, 2020 in Windsor, England (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Queen thanks local volunteers and key workers for the work they are doing during the coronavirus pandemic at Windsor Castle. (WireImage)

Despite being 94, the Queen has made it clear she has no plans to step aside or reduce her workload more than is necessary.

During the coronavirus pandemic, she continued to keep up with charities and her work as Head of State, meeting weekly with the prime minister via phone call instead of in person, and using video conferencing to hold engagements.

She is even planning for her 70th year on the throne, with a series of events scheduled for 2022 for the Platinum Jubilee.

Any future new look Royal Family will include the Queen, who continues to make good on her promise that her whole life, long or short, would be in service of the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales wearing a protective face covering to combat the spread of the coronavirus, attends an event to thank local volunteers and key workers for the work they are doing during the coronavirus pandemic and over Christmas in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle on December 8, 2020 in Windsor, England.  The Queen and members of the royal family gave thanks to local volunteers and key workers for their work in helping others during the coronavirus pandemic and over Christmas at Windsor Castle in what was also the final stop for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their tour of England, Wales and Scotland. (Photo by Glyn Kirk - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Charles at an event to thank local volunteers and key workers, held in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle. (Getty Images)

Prince Charles, 72, is the oldest son of the Queen, and the heir to the throne. He is the longest-serving heir in British history.

His patronages span far and wide, but he has been particularly interested over the years in the environment, including sustainability, organic farming and plastic use.

During the coronavirus pandemic he maintained his visibility through video calls, and by releasing video messages. He also made appearances on Classic FM.

Charles, who caught coronavirus in March, is usually based in Clarence House in London but has been spending most of his time in Highgrove, his Gloucestershire home, since the lockdown measures were eased over the summer.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall with Beth, her jack-russell terrier, unveiling a plaque as they visit the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to open the new kennels and thank the centre's staff and supporters on December 9, 2020 in Windsor, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall with Beth, her Jack-Russell terrier, unveiling a plaque as they visit the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. (Getty Images)

Camilla, also 73, is the wife of Prince Charles and as such is in line to be Queen Consort when he accedes. It’s previously been reported she wishes to be known as Princess Consort.

Her patronages have been steadily accumulating as she quietly climbs the ladder in royal life. Her passion for animals is obvious in some and she opened the Duchess of Cornwall kennels at Battersea Dogs Home’s Old Windsor site with her pet Beth.

But she has been particularly vocal about tackling domestic abuse in the UK, with campaigns to end the stigma around talking about violence and abuse.

Camilla has historically been a divisive figure, because of her relationship with Charles before he was divorced from Diana.

However her hard work and dry sense of humour has won round many royal watchers.

Prince William

CARDIFF, WALES - DECEMBER 08: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits  Cardiff Castle  on December 08, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince William at Cardiff Castle in December 2020. (WireImage)

As second in line to the throne, and one of the younger senior royals, a lot of responsibility has been placed on Prince William before and during the pandemic.

He launched the Earthshot Prize in 2020, a project which will award millions of pounds over the next decade to communities, companies, even countries, that come up with innovative ways to solve problems the Earth is facing.

It’s thought it will be his major royal project, akin to the Duke of Edinburgh awards set up by his grandfather, or the Prince of Wales Trust, by his father.

Read more: When might Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis take on royal duties?

As a father-of-three, the Duke of Cambridge has been keen to be a hands-on dad, and so has to balance a more modern approach to family life with his royal duties.

Keeping his coronavirus diagnosis a secret during the height of the pandemic could threaten public trust in him, but together with his wife, he remains a popular member of the family.

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge

CARDIFF, WALES - DECEMBER 08: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits Cardiff Castle on December 08, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. The Duke And Duchess of Cambridge are undertaking a short tour of the UK ahead of the Christmas holidays to pay tribute to the inspiring work of individuals, organizations and initiatives across the country that have gone above and beyond to support their local communities this year. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits Cardiff Castle. (Getty Images)

Formally known as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge is one of the most popular royals and helped the family surge back into headlines when she married William in 2011.

Her sartorial choices are carefully followed and copied and she champions British designers, in particular Alexander McQueen.

The duchess launched her own big project just before the pandemic truly hit the UK, as she undertook a huge survey on the under-fives.

Just as her husband looks to be focusing on the environment, she will be championing early years development and plans to announce ways the whole nation can support children in those key ages.

Together they also run the Royal Foundation, which represents their charitable work.

Princess Anne

STROUD, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 14: In this handout image released on August 14, 2020, Princess Anne, Princess Royal poses for a portrait at her home at Gatcombe Park in late February 2020. The images are being released as official photographs to celebrate the Princess's 70th birthday on Saturday. (Photo by John Swannell / Camera Press via Getty Images)
Princess Anne in a portrait at her home at Gatcombe Park for her 70th birthday. (Camera Press via Getty Images)

Princess Anne is the Queen’s only daughter and has carried out royal duties since she was 18.

She’s among the quieter of the royals, of the view that it is better to get on with the job.

But she has gathered a new generation of fans thanks to how she was portrayed in The Crown, in seasons three and four.

As Princess Royal, she will always be a key support to her mother and a big part of the Royal Family.

Prince Edward

TWICKENHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex visits the Corps of Army Music for a renaming ceremony and short parade at Kneller Hall on December 10, 2020 in Twickenham, England. The Countess of Wessex is Colonel in Chief of the regiment. (Photo by UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty Images)
Prince Edward visiting the Corps of Army Music for a renaming ceremony and short parade at Kneller Hall in Twickenham, England. (UK Press via Getty Images)

The youngest son of the Queen and Prince Philip, Prince Edward has been a working royal since 2002 but remains one of the lesser known senior royals.

He has two children and lives close to the Queen’s Windsor home, in Bagshot Park.

Edward’s main royal role is looking after the Duke of Edinburgh awards, which were set up by his father. Prince Philip retired in 2017.

But throughout the pandemic, he has been seen more and more frequently, often in practical engagements rather than visits.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex

TWICKENHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Sophie, Countess of Wessex visits the Corps of Army Music for a renaming ceremony and short parade at Kneller Hall on December 10, 2020 in Twickenham, England. The Countess of Wessex is Colonel in Chief of the regiment. (Photo by UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty Images)
Sophie, Countess of Wessex visits the Corps of Army Music for a renaming ceremony and short parade at Kneller Hall in Twickenham. (UK Press Pool/UK Press)

Former businesswoman Sophie joined the ranks of working royals in 2002 alongside her husband, but has spent much of that time working behind the scenes.

However, with the stepping back of Prince Harry and Meghan, Sophie has been given more of a public facing role in the Royal Family.

Sophie spent the first few months of the pandemic carrying out lots of private work with various charities, including cooking food for frontline workers.

And she has continued to offer practical help on her engagements when she can.

So who’s out?

While no firm decisions appear to have been take by Buckingham Palace, the intention to only include eight members of the Royal Family as working royals would leave some others out.

There are a number of other lesser-known royals who still carry out duties on behalf of the Queen.

And of course, there’s the Queen’s other son Andrew, and her grandson Harry and his wife Meghan.

Prince Andrew

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends a Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Prince Andrew, Duke of York attending the Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2019. (Indigo/Getty Images)

The Queen’s second son has not carried out a formal engagement in more than a year, after stepping back from his duties in November 2019, over a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

There have been a mix of reports indicating he intends to return to working with his mother in the future.

However, the Duke of York does not seem to be included in the new top eight.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex

Undated handout video grab issued by the Evening Standard of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex being interviewed from their Californian home by the Evening Standard, the couple have joined forces with the newspaper to reveal their list of BHM next gen trailblazers Ð recognised for challenging prejudice and their positive contribution to British society.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their Californian home in autumn 2020. (Evening Standard)

Harry and Meghan are busy making a new life for themselves in California after agreeing a plan to give up their senior royal duties in January 2020.

However, they had hoped to make it back to the UK throughout the year – plans which were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic.

With a Netflix deal signed and a non-profit organisation on the way, the couple will be very busy in 2021. While they are sure to return to the UK, this picture of the monarchy appears to be accepting they won’t be senior royals again.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester attend the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at St George's Chapel on May 18, 2019 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston in May 2019. (Getty Images)

There appears to be a lesser role in this line-up for royals like the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, who have worked to represent the Queen for many years.

The duke was unexpectedly thrown into his role when his older brother died in a plane crash.

It meant he inherited the dukedom, and gave up his job as an architect to join the Royal Family’s work.

Since 1970, he has represented the Queen, and his wife Birgitte van Deurs joined him in the work.

At 76 and 74 they are past retirement age, which might allow them to take a step back.

Princess Alexandra

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Princess Alexandra of the United Kingdom at St George's Chapel on June 17, 2019 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images)
Princess Alexandra at St George's Chapel in June 2019 in Windsor. (Getty Images)

Another of the Queen’s cousins, Princess Alexandra has decades of royal experience behind her and is patron or president of more than 100 organisations.

She first represented the Queen in 1960 and has represented her abroad and in the UK throughout the years since then.

She kept up her work during the coronavirus pandemic by calling her various charities. At 83, she may also be ready to step back.

Edward, The Duke of Kent

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent attends a service dedicated to P. G. Wodehouse in Westminster Abbey on September 20, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Simon Dawson - Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent at a service dedicated to PG Wodehouse in Westminster Abbey in 2019. (Getty Images)

Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, is a cousin to both the Queen and Prince Philip, and also has decades of royal experience behind him.

The 85-year-old occupies a rarer position of having worked to boost British trade around the world too, as former vice chairman of the Overseas Trade Board.

He is particularly passionate about ensuring future generations remember and respect the war dead, and is president of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a position he has held for 50 years.

Watch: Who is The Queen?