Harry and Meghan are now back in Canada, after their unprecedented royal exit announcement this month. The Duke of Sussex attended crisis talks in Sandringham earlier this month, after which the Queen reluctantly accepted her grandson’s resignation from royal duties. As part of the exit deal, Harry has given up the use of his HRH title, his military appointments, and his right to represent the Queen in any official capacity as a member of the Royal Family.
However, despite completely stepping down from his role within the Royal Family, under UK law Harry still has a crucial hereditary right that could see him wield considerable power.
If Her Majesty were temporarily incapacitated, Harry still has the right to become a Counsellor of State.
The Cabinet Manual, published in October 2011 is “a guide to laws, conventions and rules on the operation of government”.
The guidelines set out what happens if the Queen should become unwell or otherwise unable to fulfil her duties as monarch.
Prince Harry; Queen ELizabeth II (Image: Getty)
Harry pictured with Boris Johnson just before he returned to Canada this week (Image: Getty)
A Regency is established if the sovereign becomes incapacitated for a long period of time, however there are a different set of rules if the Queen were to be temporarily debilitated.
The guidelines state: “When the sovereign is absent from the country for a short period or temporarily incapacitated or for some definite cause not available, his or her functions are delegated to Counsellors of State.
“These are currently the sovereign’s spouse and the four nearest in line to the throne.
“Two or more Counsellors of State may exercise any of the functions of the sovereign except the powers to grant any rank, title or dignity of the peerage, or to signify royal assent to any amendment to the Act of Settlement 1700 or royal style and titles.”
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The Queen at Sandringham last Sunday (Image: Getty)
Under these rules, the five Counsellors of State currently would include Prince Philip as the Queen’s husband, Prince Charles and Prince William.
However, Prince Harry is next in line after his brother, meaning that the Duke of Sussex is in the highly unusual position of having renounced all his