Counsellors of State stand in for the Monarch if they are temporarily unavailable, either through being out of the country or for short term health reasons, like an operation.
The Regency Act of 1937 stated that the Monarch’s spouse and the first four adults in the line of succession could be called on to be Counsellors. That meant that, following the accession of King Charles III, the role could be fulfilled by Queen Camilla, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of York and Princess Beatrice. How
Two people must exercise the role together – it can never be carried out by one person on their own. That led to discussion about the viability of the situation given that Prince Harry lives overseas and has stepped back from royal duties while Prince Andrew has withdrawn from public life following a court case.
In November 2022, King Charles wrote to the House of Lords asking it to consider making an amendment to the Act to add Princess Anne and Prince Edward to the list of people eligible to act as Counsellors of State.
The Bill to change who could take on the role was given Royal Assent, meaning it is now law, on December 6th 2022. It took just 22 days to make the changes.
Since then, seven people have been able to act as Counsellors of State.