King Charles III has been called on to consider moves by Parliament to amend the Regency Act 1937 amid concern the current arrangements could mean non-working members of the Royal Family can step in to cover for the monarch. In the House of Lords, a constitutional debate was held on whether the Government should act to reform the law so as to prevent Prince Andrew, the Duke of York or Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex from taking up powers as a regent.
Viscount Stansgate told members of the House of Lords: “The House knows that the Regency Act is still very relevant: it is the only reason why it was possible to open the current Session of this Parliament.
“Indeed, when you look at the final year of Her late Majesty’s reign, there were elements of a regency about it.”
He asked: “Does the Minister not think it is time to approach the King to discuss the potential amendment of this Act, and in particular Clause 6, which at the moment defines regents in relation to their line of succession to the Crown?
“Otherwise, are the Government happy to continue with a situation where the counsels of state and regency powers may be exercised by the Duke of York or the Duke of Sussex, one of whom has left public life and the other of whom has left the country? Is it not time for the Government to approach the King to see whether a sensible amendment can be made to this Act?
Conservative peer Lord True answered that the Government would work to guarantee “resilience in our constitutional arrangements” and noted that the accession of a new monarch can be a “useful opportunity to consider the arrangements.”
He replied: “My Lords, I thank the noble Viscount for the Question but he will of course understand that I will not discuss any private conversations with His Majesty or with the Royal Household.
“His Majesty King George VI set out in his gracious message to Parliament that there can be a need “to consider contingencies which may hereafter arise, and to make such provision as will, in any event, secure the exercise of the Royal Authority.”
“In that spirit, the Government will always consider what arrangements are needed to ensure resilience in our constitutional arrangements, and in the past we have seen that the point of accession has proved a useful opportunity to consider the arrangements in place.”
The Liberal Democrat’s Lord Addington peer then stood to press the Government on whether the person appointed to take up regency powers if needed full would need to already be active in carrying out royal duties.
He asked: “My Lords, can the Government indicate that they will at least consider that the person they go to in the first consideration will be somebody who actually undertakes royal duties, or at least some part of them, at present?”
“My Lords, again, I will not comment on specific circumstances,” replied The Lord Privy Seal.
“I have set out the position in response to the noble Viscount, and, obviously, any consideration would also have to take place in close consultation with the Royal Household.”
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On Tuesday, King Charles accepted the resignation of Liz Truss after just 49 days in office.
In coming Prime Minister Rish Sunak was invited to form a government by the King when they met at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday after Ms Truss departed as the shortest-serving prime minister in history.
Mr Sunak, 42, is the UK’s first Hindu PM, the first of Asian heritage and the youngest for more than 200 years.
The King and Mr Sunak were pictured shaking hands as they met in Buckingham Palace, Charles III became monarch on the death of his mother, the Queen, on September 8.