The proof real royal power lies only with Charles and the Queen

Scottish Daily Mail - - Outcast Andrew - by Robert Hard­man

To­MoR­RoW, the Prince of Wales will con­tinue his Pa­cific tour as he flies to one of fur­thest-flung lands of which he will one day be King. The Solomon Is­lands are not only one of the small­est of the Queen’s 16 realms but also the most amor­phous (hav­ing changed shape sev­eral times dur­ing her reign thanks to vol­canic ac­tiv­ity).

In years gone by, it would have been the ideal place to park an em­bar­rassed mem­ber of the Royal Fam­ily – like the Duke of York – for a spell of quiet ex­ile as Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral. Ge­orge vI and Win­ston Churchill did much the same when they packed off the trou­ble­some Duke of Wind­sor to the Ba­hamas dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Ex­cept the world doesn’t work like that any­more. Even a re­mote out­post like the Solomons can­not be taken for granted.

These days, a mod­ern monar­chy must earn re­spect and, with it, af­fec­tion. Gain­ing those pre­cious com­modi­ties takes years. Los­ing them can hap­pen overnight as both the Prince of Wales and the Queen are acutely aware.

That is why the two of them were so quick to agree a swift and de­ci­sive plan of ac­tion in re­sponse to this week’s im­plo­sion by the Duke of York.

The Royal Fam­ily can be very adept at sol­dier­ing on in the face of ad­ver­sity. His­tor­i­cally, it can be slow to re­spond to a shift­ing pub­lic mood. But in the midst of a cri­sis which had al­ready eclipsed five days of elec­tion­eer­ing – and re­duced Wed­nes­day’s launch of the Lib­eral Demo­crat man­i­festo to a sideshow – there could be no sto­icism or dither­ing.

Both the Queen and her elder son were adamant that the duke’s duty was to quit. Any­thing else could leave the whole in­sti­tu­tion open to charges of con­sti­tu­tional mis­con­duct. And that trumps any fa­mil­ial loy­al­ties.

This has been a dis­mal year af­ter a pe­riod of pro­longed royal con­tent­ment. The sud­den le­gal as­sault on the press by the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex, fol­lowed by a bomb­shell doc­u­men­tary dur­ing their tour of South Africa only com­pounded the un­set­tled at­mos­phere at royal head­quar­ters. There, of­fi­cials were still reel­ing from the con­sti­tu­tional im­pact of the Queen being lured in to an un­law­ful pro­ro­ga­tion of Par­lia­ment.

Hence the need for firm ac­tion this week. The phones have been busy be­tween the Palace and the Prince of Wales’s rov­ing of­fice in New Zealand.

If roy­al­ists are to draw any pos­i­tives from the events of re­cent days – and it might seem fan­ci­ful to imag­ine that there are any – then we can at least draw com­fort from the fact that the monarch and the heir to the throne are as one on the big is­sues.

There is no ques­tion of who re­mains in charge. The Prince of Wales is not reach­ing for the royal con­trols. Since his younger brother’s self-in­flicted dis­as­ter has started un­fold­ing, the prince has left it to the Queen to ex­er­cise her au­thor­ity. How­ever, it has been made very clear that she does so with his full sup­port. I un­der­stand that he is de­ter­mined to en­sure there is no back­slid­ing back at royal HQ if – as may have been the case – the duke at­tempts to de­vise some sort of new pri­vate/pub­lic role for him­self, hav­ing just an­nounced a com­plete with­drawal from of­fi­cial du­ties.

Though re­cent months may have been coloured by rifts be­tween younger mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily, there is no di­vi­sion at the top end.

What we have been wit­ness­ing over the last 24 months is a slow and sub­tle but steady royal re­align­ment. It has been a trans­fer of du­ties – though not of pow­ers.

It started in earnest in Novem­ber 2017 with a sin­gle sen­tence buried in pages of cer­e­mo­nial de­tail ahead of Re­mem­brance Sun­day. The Queen would watch pro­ceed­ings at the Ceno­taph from a bal­cony while the Prince of Wales would lead the na­tion in silent trib­ute to the fallen.

Her po­si­tion as Head of the Armed Forces had not changed one jot. It was merely a com­mon sense de­ci­sion to spare a monarch, now in her tenth decade, from hav­ing to walk back­wards down a step on live tele­vi­sion.

Just five months later, the Queen wel­comed the 53 na­tions of the Com­mon­wealth to a sum­mit at Buck­ing­ham Palace. The rel­a­tively har­mo­nious tran­si­tion from Em­pire to a free as­so­ci­a­tion of equal na­tions, started by her fa­ther, has been one of her great­est achieve­ments.

HoW­EvER, the role of Head of the Com­mon­wealth has never been a hered­i­tary one. Now the Queen was ask­ing the mem­ber states to grant the same ti­tle to the Prince of Wales in due course. Though this ‘fam­ily of na­tions’ is quite ca­pa­ble of a fu­ri­ous row about the most footling is­sue, they were all unan­i­mous on this point. The Prince was for­mally ap­proved as Head-in-wait­ing.

over­seas, the prince’s tours have taken on a new, en­hanced sta­tus fol­low­ing the Queen’s de­ci­sion to cur­tail all travel abroad. Though state ban­quets are tra­di­tion­ally re­served for heads of state, Ghana pro­duced one for the prince and the Duchess of Corn­wall in 2018.

Back home, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh’s grad­ual with­drawal from pub­lic du­ties con­tin­ued. His ap­pear­ance at the 2017 state visit of the King of Spain was his last on this sort of oc­ca­sion. At the next state vis­its, for the King of Hol­land in 2018 and Don­ald Trump in June of this year, it was the prince who per­formed the role of con­sort.

When Mr Trump held the tra­di­tional re­turn ban­quet at the US am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Re­gent’s Park, the prince stood in for the Queen.

At this year’s com­mem­o­ra­tions for the 75th an­niver­sary of D-Day, it was the prince who saluted veter­ans in Nor­mandy. When the Queen marked the 20th an­niver­sary of the Scot­tish par­lia­ment this sum­mer – a very im­por­tant mo­ment, given the fis­sures in the Union – she did so with the prince firmly at her side.

It was the same when she pro­cessed through West­min­ster for last month’s State open­ing of Par­lia­ment. And so it con­tin­ues.

It is clear that the Queen still misses her for­mer Pri­vate Sec­re­tary, Sir Christophe­r (now Lord) Geidt. He was the dis­creet ar­chi­tect of those tri­umphal years ei­ther side of the Di­a­mond Ju­bilee – steer­ing the monar­chy around po­ten­tial pit­falls like coali­tion pol­i­tics or re­forms to the royal suc­ces­sion – but was edged out in a mys­te­ri­ous re­struc­tur­ing of the Royal House­hold in 2017.

He did not en­dear him­self to the Duke of York when, at the cli­max of the Di­a­mond Ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tions, he fi­nalised ar­range­ments for the ap­pear­ance on the palace bal­cony. It was lim­ited to the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles’s fam­ily.

While the Queen’s of­fi­cial birth­day might be an oc­ca­sion for a full fam­ily turnout on the bal­cony, the Ju­bilee was to be a stream­lined af­fair.

‘Prince An­drew was fu­ri­ous about that and has never for­got­ten it,’ says one who well re­mem­bers the ducal wrath. The duke felt that it was not just a per­sonal hu­mil­i­a­tion but an in­sult to his daugh­ters, ar­gu­ing that both en­joyed the style of HRH.

The Princess Royal and the Earl of Wes­sex, in con­trast, have al­ways de­clined royal sta­tus for their chil­dren.

WHILE we can all un­der­stand the duke’s pa­ter­nal wish to en­sure the best for his daugh­ters, it is a sim­ple fact of royal life that those out­side the im­me­di­ate line of suc­ces­sion oc­cupy a dif­fer­ent or­bit.

The Prince of Wales is only too aware of the per­ils of a monar­chy that ap­pears over­weight. Like the Queen and the Gov­ern­ment, he is ex­tremely grate­ful for the work – much of it un­sung – by those sib­lings and cousins who cur­rently per­form of­fi­cial du­ties.

You need only fol­low a re­gional tour by the Princess Royal or the Earl and Count­ess of Wes­sex to see the way in which they spread the royal load, even if it does not make the na­tional me­dia. The same goes for the Glouces­ters and Kents, who are now all well past re­tire­ment age.

But the same will not apply to their re­spec­tive chil­dren. All are pur­su­ing ca­reers out­side the royal fold. The same goes for the Duke of York’s daugh­ters, though they con­tinue to live on the royal es­tate.

In a hered­i­tary in­sti­tu­tion that is just the way it goes. Nei­ther the Queen nor the Prince of Wales will budge on that.

We used to hear a lot about the pre-em­i­nence of the ‘Fab Four’ – as ex­cited com­men­ta­tors would brand the Cam­bridges and Sus­sexes un­til the re­cent part­ing of the ways.

Real royal power, how­ever, rests firmly with the ‘Top Two’.

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