NEW counsellors of state have been appointed following the accession of King Charles after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth last week.

A rather grand-sounding title, the gang of five most recently appointed to the role are effectively stand-ins for the new King, should he become too ill to perform his role or when he is absent from the UK.

But the appointments have raised eyebrows because Prince Andrew, who paid an undisclosed sum to settle a civil case brought against him in the US by a woman who claims she was raped by the prince when she was 17, has kept his place as one of the monarch’s stand-ins.

The National: PA PA (Image: PA)

Prince Andrew resigned from his public roles as the Duke of York in the wake of the scandal and a disastrous and now-notorious interview with BBC’s Newsnight, in which he memorably claimed he was incapable of sweating and said he had no memory of ever meeting his accuser Virginia Giuffre.

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The Queen stripped him of his military affiliations and royal patronages earlier this year, while Buckingham Palace said the prince would not be able to use the title His Royal Highness.

Prince Andrew was a counsellor of state under Queen Elizabeth, as the eighth person in line to the throne, despite the controversy.

Who can be a counsellor of state?

Counsellors of state are the current monarch’s spouse – in this case Queen Consort Camilla – and the next four people in the line of succession who are over the age of 21.

This currently excludes Charles’s grandchildren, but includes Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and his daughter Princess Beatrice.

The National: Prince William and Prince Harry Prince William and Prince Harry (Image: N/A)

Of these, only Camilla and William are full-time working royals.

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Harry stepped down as a senior royal in 2020 and has maintained a frosty relationship with the rest of the family after he and his wife Meghan Markle left Britain for California.

Andrew stopped being a working royal later that same year and observers such as Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty magazine, have said it is unlikely he will make a full return to the fold under his brother’s reign.

Beatrice is not a working royal and chased her own pursuits while also taking on royal patronages of charities.

What do counsellors of state do?

They can carry out most of the official duties of the monarch in the event he is sick or abroad but are barred from taking on some key functions of the sovereign.

They cannot:

  • Deal with Commonwealth matters
  • Dissolve parliament, except on the express instruction of the King
  • Create new peers
  • Appoint a prime minister

The limits of their role were set out in the Regency Act of 1937 which was passed after George VI became king in 1936. His daughter and heir presumptive was Queen Elizabeth who was technically ineligible for succession at the time as she was under 18.

The National: Penny Mordaunt is Lord President of the Privy Council Penny Mordaunt is Lord President of the Privy Council (Image: PA)

Counsellors of state can attend meetings of the Privy Council – the formal body of advisers to the King which comprises of Right Honourable members and former members of parliament.

The currently Lord President of the Council is Penny Mordaunt

The King is able to exercise the royal prerogative in the Privy Council, which nowadays relates mainly to standing orders for civil servants, appointing the heads of Crown corporations and making appointments to the Church of England.

They are also able to formally recognise new ambassadors to the UK.