The Daily Telegraph

King can turn to ‘steadying’ Anne like Queen relied on Margaret

- By Gordon Rayner Associate editor

AS THE King settles into his role, he will need to rely on two women in particular to give him emotional and profession­al support: the Queen and the Princess Royal.

While the Princess’s immense workload has often been overlooked in the past, her vast experience, as well as her close personal bond with her brother, will make her one of the most important figures of his reign.

The Princess, who is less than two years younger than the King, grew up with him, unlike their siblings Andrew and Edward, who are more than a decade younger. Their relationsh­ip is one of mutual respect as well as much laughter, and they have always loved spending time together.

One friend of the King said: “In the same way that the Queen had Princess Margaret to turn to for most of her life, the King has the Princess Royal.

“There is something quite steadying for him having her around, because they are close and they love to share a joke, but she also respects the role he inhabits. They always seem very happy to be in each other’s company.

“They like to talk about how they shared a vegetable patch in the garden of Buckingham Palace when they were children, and they have a shared love of the countrysid­e. Only on Sunday they were at the Highland Games together, where they were in their element.”

The death of Queen Elizabeth II means hundreds of patronages have now returned to the new sovereign, all of which must be either absorbed by

‘They are close and they love to share a joke, but she also absolutely respects the role he inhabits’

him, reallocate­d to other members of the Royal family or allowed to lapse.

While the King has expressed a desire to streamline the monarchy, his ability to do so will be dictated by the number of official engagement­s he wants the Royal family to carry out each year, and without Princess Anne there would be a sizeable hole in the royal diary.

The Princess, 72, is the patron of more than 300 organisati­ons and has built up a reputation as the hardestwor­king member of the Royal family.

She has carried out more than 20,000 engagement­s to date, and last year the Princess carried out 387 official engagement­s, two more than her elder brother.

Both of them completed far more duties than the next-busiest member of the family, the Duke of Cambridge, with 235 official engagement­s.

In theory, the King could decide to downgrade the Princess Royal's status to focus on the direct line of succession, meaning that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall will play a more prominent role as well as, in time, Prince George.

She will not lose her title of Princess Royal, which is reserved for the eldest daughter of the monarch, but the King could choose to give his sister an additional title. Princess Anne is the seventh woman to be given the title of Princess Royal, which applies for life and which was first bestowed on Princess Mary, the daughter of King Charles I, in 1642.

A decision will have to be made over the title Duke of Edinburgh, which returned to the monarch upon the death of Prince Philip, and which could be given to the Earl of Wessex.

Palace sources said no conversati­ons had taken place about the titles or the roles of the King’s siblings, and indicated such decisions might have to wait until the official period of royal mourning is over.

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