Prince Andrew and Prince Harry face a new double humiliation as royal officials are mulling ways to remove another of their significant roles, while also denying them Jubilee medals like other veterans.
Buckingham Palace officials are now considering how to remove the role of Counsellors of State from the Duke of York and the Duke of Sussex – a potentially significant position that the pair still possess.
The duo, who are ninth and sixth in line to the throne respectively, have already been stripped of their royal patronages and military titles by the Queen – and both asked not to use the handle His Royal Highness. Palace sources confirmed they are still two of the four Counsellors of State, who would be called upon to take the place of the Queen if she were unable to carry out her duties because of illness or absence abroad.
They would be authorised to carry out most of the official duties of the monarch, including signing important documents, attending Privy Council meetings and receiving the credentials of new ambassadors to the UK. The other two Counsellors of State are Prince Charles, who is heir to the throne, and William, who is second in line.
A royal source said: ‘It is a genuine problem that the Palace is looking to address. Can you imagine the Duke of York having to sign official documents, for example, because the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge were both abroad, and the Queen became ill? It’s not an exaggeration to say it could put the monarchy in jeopardy.’
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment, but sources suggested that Andrew, 61, and Harry, 37, could not be stripped of their roles without an Act of Parliament having to be passed first. By law, the counsellors of state are the monarch’s spouse and the next four people in the line of succession who are over the age of 21. If Andrew and Harry were removed they could be replaced by Princess Anne and Camilla.
‘There could be events later this year which make such a change necessary,’ the source said in an apparent reference to the outcome of Andrew’s court case in the US and the publication of Harry’s forthcoming memoirs. The position of Counsellor of State was provided for in 1937 under the Regency Act. Prior to 1937, Regency Acts were drafted and passed only in necessity – with nine separate Acts to cover various eventualities since 1728.
Shortly after George VI came to the throne in 1936, a new Regency Act was passed which provided a rule for all future reigns. It was then that the new office of Counsellor of State was created to cover short-term absences. Both Andrew and Harry have been stripped of their royal patronages and military titles amid the former’s ongoing court battle and the latter’s decision to quit ‘The Firm’ and move to North America with his wife Meghan Markle.
In a further blow to Andrew and Harry, they will also now both not be eligible for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal next month having lost their honorary military titles, according to the Daily Telegraph.