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British Royals

Why Prince Charles and Prince William both have to attend the State Opening of Parliament in The Queen’s absence

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge will attend the State Opening of Parliament today as The Queen misses the ceremony for the first time in almost 60 years.

And while Prince Charles will read The Queen’s speech, both he and Prince William need to be present for the machinery of state to operate.

They are both attending Parliament on May 10th 2022 as Counsellors of State. The role was created by the 1937 Regency Act and allows nominated people to act on behalf of the Monarch in the case of ‘’temporary incapacity’’ or absence from the United Kingdom.

The first four adults in the line of succession can act as counsellors but two must exercise the function together. It means that neither Charles nor William could open Parliament by themselves.

Buckingham Palace confirmed on May 9th 2022 that The Queen would miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years. In a statement, it was announced that ‘’ The Queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems, and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow.

At Her Majesty’s request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, The Prince of Wales will read The Queen’s speech on Her Majesty’s behalf, with The Duke of Cambridge also in attendance.’’

It is expected that the royal party, which will also include the Duchess of Cornwall, will sit in front of the assembled Lords while members of the House of Commons, as is traditional, will crowd into an area at the end of the chamber to hear the speech which is actually written by the government.

Letters patent were authorised by The Queen to allow two counsellors, in this instance Prince Charles and Prince William, to open Parliament. It is the first time that Counsellors of State have ever opened Parliament.

If either Charles or William had to withdraw, another counsellor would have to be called on. The other two Counsellors of State are Prince Andrew and Prince Harry.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.