A royal expert has said it is “no coincidence” that King Charles III chose to use his first birthday as sovereign to sideline his younger brother Prince Andrew. On Monday, the monarch celebrated his 74th birthday, marking the day by releasing a new official portrait.
But he also approached the Houses of Parliament to propose a change to the 1973 Regency Act, and induct two new Counsellors of State to the monarch’s inner circle.
Counsellors of State can represent the monarch on official business, should they be indisposed or abroad.
King Charles said he would be “most content” to welcome his sister, Princess Anne, and youngest brother, Prince Edward, to the exclusive ranks.
Currently, the monarch has five Counsellors of State, including his wife, Queen Camilla.
Eligibility to be a Counsellor of State follows the line of succession for royals above the age of 21, and includes Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice.
However, questions had been raised about the suitability of the Duke of York and Duke of Sussex within this group.
Neither are working royals, although they have retained their place in the line of succession.
But the Duke of York was stripped of his ability to use his HRH title by the late Queen earlier this year, as Prince Harry had been following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step back from royal life.
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King Charles’ move, falling on his first birthday as the head of the Royal Family, was widely interpreted as an attempt to ensure the need for the two Dukes to deputise for the monarch never arose.
But announcing the legislative proposal as the sovereign turned 74 was “no coincidence at all”, according to royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams, adding it started the process of a “necessary change” for the senior royal ranks.
He described the news as an indicator that both the King and the heir to the throne are “absolute” on the issue, and the timing “says it all”.
He told The Mirror: “This is a very good example of King Charles making an extremely sensible necessary decision, very early in his reign and the fact it’s announced on his birthday is no accident.
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“The news breaking on his birthday says it all.”
Mr Fitzwilliams pointed to the Duke of York’s poor approval ratings among the public, which he said had left the monarchy in a precarious position.
He added: “Since Andrew is in disgrace and that is most unlikely to change, the situation had been perilous.”
He continued: “Public opinion is solidly against Andrew and there is absolutely no chance according to all reports.
“The King is absolute on the issue and so is Prince William. That is that.”
The proposal, read to both the House of Lords and the Commons earlier this week, would not remove the two Dukes from their positions, but rather offer further alternatives for those who can deputise for the monarch.
The King said in a statement he believed the change wouild “ensure continued efficiency of public business when I’m unavailable”.