The Queen’s recent Covid-19 scare has sparked debate over which royals should be allowed to step in for her if she is unable to fulfill her duties.
Her Majesty is currently being “monitored” after it was revealed she was in close contact with Prince Charles two days before he tested positive with coronavirus.
If the Queen cannot undertake her official duties, there are four potential royals who are Counselors of State and appointed by Letters Patent who can fill in for her – Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry.
As reported in The Mirror, Buckingham Palace refused to confirm whether the 95-year-old monarch had tested positive or negative for Covid, fueling fears for her health, but palace sources insisted she was not displaying symptoms of the virus.
Counselors of State are appointed from among the following: the monarch’s consort (which was the late Prince Philip) and the four adults over the age of 21 next in succession.
These are currently Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.
And since Charles contracted Covid yesterday and William abroad in Dubai, if both the Queen and Charles were too unwell to carry out duties, the role would have failed Andrew and Harry.
However, Andrew has stepped back permanently from royal life while he fights a civil sexual assault case, while Harry is in the US having also quit as a senior working royal.
Andrew and Harry remain in the line of succession, but the fact that Harry is out of the UK living in California could potentially disqualify him from a Counselor of State role, although he could travel back to London if ever required.
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt tweeted: “With Prince Charles isolating and Prince William abroad, is Prince Andrew limbering up in case he needs to be a Counselor of State – or can Prince Harry do it, virtually?”
But, in the event Counselors of State were needed, he would only be one of the two required.
Charles is understood not to have serious symptoms after testing positive on Thursday.
Second in line William is however only away on a whirlwind tour and is set to return from the UAE today.
The Queen is empowered to appoint Counselors under the Regency Acts 1937-53.
There have been suggestions the Duchess of Cornwall could become a Counselor of State, but legislation would be required for this to happen as she is not in the line of succession.
She will automatically become one, as Queen Consort, when Charles becomes King, as the wife of a sovereign.
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