Fact Check: Was Prince Andrew Appointed 'Deputy King' Under Charles III?

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 in Scotland, the entire structure of the monarchy shifted, seeing her son and heir Charles become King Charles III.

The process saw not only the change of monarch, but also an alteration to the established line of succession, the titles held by senior members of the royal family, and the incumbent Counsellors of State.

The line of succession is the formal order in which blood members of the royal family stand to inherit the throne. This order also dictates who the Counsellors of State are.

King Charles III and Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew and King Charles III (when Prince of Wales) photographed June 5, 2012. Speculation that Charles has appointed Andrew "Deputy King" have circulated online. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

This is a group of five of the most senior members of the royal family, including the spouse of the sovereign and their four heirs who are over the age of 21, who are able to be called upon to deputize for a number of the monarch's official duties.

The Counsellors may be called upon if the monarch is absent (overseas), ill or incapacitated.

With the crown King Charles III also inherits three of the four surviving Counsellors who served his mother, one of whom is his controversial younger brother, Prince Andrew.

But has he been officially appointed "Deputy King," as some have claimed?

The Claim

A number of social media posts following the death of Queen Elizabeth II have stated that King Charles III has "appointed" his brother, Prince Andrew to serve as a Counsellor of State, and effectively "Deputy King."

One of the latest of these, from Twitter account Laura Kuenssberg Translator that has gained over 10,000 likes, stated on September 14, 2022:

"BREAKING: Prince Andrew has been given the role of stepping in for King Charles if he ever becomes sick or leaves the country, meaning he is essentially deputy king. This is grotesque, isn't it?"

Public opinion of Andrew plummeted in the wake of sexual abuse allegations brought against him on the back of a years-long friendship with convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, which were subject of a lawsuit against the royal in 2021.

Following a television interview, in which he addressed his connection with Epstein and attempted to discredit the claims of his accuser Virginia Giuffre in 2019, the prince removed himself from public life, before settling the lawsuit out of court in early 2022.

The Facts

Prince Andrew is the third child and second son born to the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

At the age of 21, Andrew, who was then also second in line to the British throne, being one place behind his brother Charles in the line of succession, met the legal criteria to become a Counsellor of State.

The criteria for who qualifies to be a Counsellor of State is set out in law through the Regency Act of 1937. This states that:

"In the event of illness not amounting to such infirmity of mind or body as is mentioned in section two of this Act, or of absence or intended absence from the United Kingdom, the Sovereign may, in order to prevent delay or difficulty in the despatch of public business, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, delegate, for the period of that illness or absence, to Counsellors of State such of the royal functions as may be specified in the Letters Patent, and may in like manner revoke or vary any such delegation:

"Provided that no power to dissolve Parliament otherwise than on the express instructions of the Sovereign, to grant any rank, title or dignity of the peerage may be delegated.

"Subject as hereinafter provided, the Counsellors of State shall be the wife or husband of the Sovereign (if the Sovereign is married), and the four persons who, excluding any persons disqualified under this section, are next in the line of succession to the Crown..."

Therefore, a sovereign does not and cannot appoint the Counsellors of State, this is an entitlement of birth, rather than a new "appointment" as some posts have stipulated.

Prince Andrew and King Charles III
Prince Andrew and King Charles III photographed in Scotland following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, September 12, 2022. Andrew continues in his position as Counsellor of State. Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Regency Act also does not reference or legislate for the position of "Deputy King," only that a Counsellor may deputize if they meet the above requirements in the stated circumstances.

Andrew served as Counsellor of State during his mother's reign from 1981 to her death in September 2022. The prince did not cease to become a Counsellor upon his mother's death, instead continuing into the reign of his brother, given that he still meets the Regency Act's legal requirements.

Whether Andrew will ever have cause to step in for Charles is another matter. With Queen Camilla and the Prince of Wales being ahead in line to deputize in cases that may require it, such a development appears very unlikely.

Regardless, the role of Counsellor does not have any day-to-day function or duty while the sovereign is performing their duties without hindrance.

The Ruling

False

False.

Prince Andrew was not appointed to the position of "Deputy King" by his brother King Charles III. This title does not legally exist.

Likewise, the Prince was not appointed a Counsellor of State by his brother King Charles III, which may be the role implied in the tweet. The king does not appoint the counsellors; they assume their positions in accordance with their positions in the line of succession once over the age of 21. The only exception to this is the spouse of the monarch, who acts as an extra Counsellor taking the number to five.

The current members of the royal family eligible to serve as Counsellors of State are:

HM Queen Camilla, The Queen Consort
1. HRH The Prince of Wales
2. HRH The Duke of Sussex
3. The Duke of York
4. HRH The Princess Beatrice, Mrs. Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi

Newsweek approached Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and representatives of Prince Andrew for comment.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false.
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