The most frequently asked press question to Buckingham Palace at the moment is whether and what King Charles will do about the Problem Andrew. In this case it is not about the scandal that cost him his position, but about an old position that he still has.
Anne and Andrew in 1971
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In 2011, pending the birth of the first child of Prince William and his wife Catherine, Queen Elizabeth arranged for boys to be no longer preferred to girls in the line of succession to the throne. That was good news for Princess Charlotte and bad news for Princess Anne, who may be the second oldest in the Queen’s family, but for whom that rule doesn’t apply retroactively. Andrew goes in the hierarchy for her.
George VI and his wife Elizabeth (the Queen’s mother) in 1948
And there it is, in view of the new king’s ‘counsellors of state’. This club was founded in 1937 by George VI; these include people who can perform official duties of the king if he is unable to do so himself for a short time (for example because he is ill or is temporarily unable to do it himself).
William, Charles and Harry in 2014, when the contacts were still cordial
There are five of them, and among them are automatically the legal consort of the monarch and the first four in the line of succession to the throne who are over 21. In the case of Charles III, that means his wife Camilla, Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and Prince Beatrice.
This automatic appointment creates commotion and concerned looks, because Beatrice, Harry and Andrew are not ‘working royals’ and do not belong to the Royal Family. Critics would rather see the trio replaced by Princess Anne, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, all of whom have worked tirelessly for the Crown for years.
This requires a change in the law and as swiftly as Charles appointed his eldest son William as the new Prince of Wales, he lingers with this decision (and also with the passing of the Duke of Edinburg title to his youngest brother Edward, but this aside).
Now it would mainly be a matter for the stage, because a Counselor of State is rarely called upon. If so, they can, for example, attend the opening of the Parliamentary year, attend Privy Counsel meetings, sign documents on behalf of the monarch and receive new ambassadors.
They cannot do anything about Commonwealth affairs, appoint a prime minister, hand out titles or send parliament home without the approval of the head of state.
So, limited power. But Anne and the Wessex seem more suitable for the role than Beatrice (no experience), Harry (already expressed his distaste for the royal family exuberantly, no longer lives in England) and Andrew (certainly not of impeccable behavior).
No one disputes the latter’s right (never convicted, no criminal record) to be part of his mother’s grieving process, but the fact that he went around in uniform again, in what appeared to be rehabilitation, worries critics: nobody gets very excited about the idea that the prince would replace his older brother in an emergency.
Rest assured that Charles III will have to make a decision about this soon, when the mourning period for his mother is over tomorrow.
Photos (c) Getty Images
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