Queen's Daughter's Exclusion From Role Held by Harry, Andrew is 'Sexism'

Queen Elizabeth II's only daughter, Princess Anne's exclusion from fulfilling the constitutional duty of counsellors of state, which Prince Andrew and Prince Harry are currently entitled to do, has been called a "lingering remnant of sexism" by a major national U.K newspaper.

The Times of London published an article on Wednesday that laid out the case for appointing Princess Anne to the role.

"Prince Charles's delivery of the Queen's Speech today was a clear sign that the monarchy is preparing for the transition from one reign to another. That is a good time to right a wrong by appointing Princess Anne to the role of counsellor of state," the Times said. "Excluding Anne is not just a personal injustice, but also does a disservice to this country. Britain is, in most ways, a progressive place. But lingering remnants of sexism give the impression that the country is more ossified than it is."

"The princess should be appointed to a role she deserves," the Times continued.

The commentary follows the State Opening of Parliament which was performed, for the first time, yesterday by Prince Charles, as the queen was forced to pull out of the ceremony owing to "episodic mobility problems."

Charles filled in for the 96-year-old monarch not in his capacity as Prince of Wales but as a counsellor of state.

Princess Anne Prince Harry Andrew Sexist Law
The fact that the queen's daughter, Princess Anne, is not a councellor of state while Prince Harry and Prince Andrew are, is down to "lingering remnants of sexism" a British newspaper has claimed. Anne (L) photographed in Cheltenham, March 16, 2012. Harry and Andrew (R) photographed at Royal Ascot, June 19, 2014. Indigo/Getty Images/Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

What is a Counsellor of State?

The counsellors of state are a group of 4 members of the royal family (in addition to the husband or wife of the monarch) who are next in line for the throne and above the age of 21. These members can perform official duties which usually are only undertaken by the monarch in case of illness, incapacitation or absence from the U.K (on foreign tours).

The counsellors can only perform these duties jointly or in a number specified in a special act that is created for each duty that needs to be undertaken. Charles attended the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday with Prince William, who is a counsellor of state due to the fact that he is second in line to the throne.

Aside from Charles and William, Andrew and Harry are the only other counsellors of state since the death of the queen's husband Prince Philip in 2021. This has brought about criticism in the press following Andrew's stripping of his royal duties as a result of a sexual assault lawsuit brought against him by Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre, and Harry's stepping down as a working royal and his subsequent move to America in 2020.

This concern was heightened when, in March 2020, both William and Charles were abroad on foreign tours—William in the Caribbean and Charles in Ireland—with the queen's health unstable enough for her to be forced to pull out of important engagements such as the Commonwealth Day service.

Why Isn't Anne a Counsellor of State?

Critics and royal experts have called for Andrew and Harry to be removed from their positions as counsellors and be replaced by Anne, who in 2021 was the busiest royal performing 387 duties, and younger brother Prince Edward.

Anne had been a counsellor until William became 21 and he automatically took her spot.

In 2013, the queen changed British law to say female members of the royal family are able to inherit the throne even if they have younger brothers. This means that the "line of succession"—the order of people entitled to take over the throne—now runs in birth order instead of a combination of birth and sex.

However, the law does not work retroactively, so only female royals born after October 28, 2011 are affected. This means that Princess Charlotte, William and Kate Middleton's daughter, is the most senior woman in line to the throne in fourth position.

But what does this mean for Anne? Well, if the law did act retroactively, she would be ninth in line to the throne and the fourth in line over the age of 18. This would mean that she would take Andrew's spot as counsellor of state. As it stands, though she is 17th in line and ninth over the age of 18.

The appointment of counsellors of state is the prerogative of the monarch or regent and so the decision over the future of Andrew and Harry's holding of the title is down to the queen herself.

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