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British RoyalsKing Charles IIIQueen Elizabeth II

House of Lords hears end of Elizabeth II’s reign had ”elements of a regency”

A member of the House of Lords has described the last year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign as having ”elements of a regency” about it.

The remarks came in a debate on another day of political turmoil in the United Kingdom.

As King Charles III was preparing to appoint a new Prime Minister for the first time in his reign, the upper house began talking about reviewing the Regency Act.

It came as the House of Lords put questions to Lord True, the Lord Privy Seal, the person responsible for relations between Parliament and the Crown. 

Viscount Stansgate, from the Labour Party, brought up the following question: “To ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to amend the Regency Act 1937”. 

His focus fells on the possibility that, in case of need for His Majesty to appoint a regent, the role would fall on “the Duke of York or the Duke of Sussex, one of whom has left public life and the other of whom has left the country”. 

His line of questioning was backed by Lord Addington, of the Liberal Democratic Party, who asked if the Government could “indicate that they will at least consider that the person they go to in the first consideration will be somebody who actually undertakes royal duties, or at least some part of them, at present”. 

The Lord Privy Seal, who belongs to the Conservative Party, responded to both of them that he wasn’t ready to divulge the contents of private conversations held with the King or the Royal Household, but that the Government “will continue to consider their legislative programme for the remainder of the session”. 

One other element that stuck out from Viscount Stansgate’s remarks was the accent he put on the importance of the Regency Act, even in modern times. He pointed out that “it is the only reason why it was possible to open the current Session of this Parliament. Indeed, when you look at the final year of Her late Majesty’s reign, there were elements of a regency about it”.

For the last opening of Parliament , Queen Elizabeth II had to pull out due to her recurring mobility issues. The then Prince of Wales along with the then Duke of Cambridge undertook the opening as Counsellors of State with the then heir to the throne reading out the speech.

It is not the first time that this issue has been debated in the United Kingdom; in recent years, it has been a topic of discussion, with fresh focus on it when the new list of Counsellors of State was made known as the start of the reign of King Charles III. Currently, his wife, Queen Camilla, and the first four adults in the line of succession are eligible to serve. That means the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of York and Princess Beatrice can all be called on to be Counsellors of State.

Now that this debate has reached the House of Lords, one wonders if it is time for King Charles to give the issue some thought.