Duchess Camilla’s royal role ‘to be expanded’ amid the Queen’s health concerns

Duchess Camilla could reportedly be set to join just four other royals in holding an elite role.

Duchess Camilla of Cornwall visits the Ebony Horse Club riding centre
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Duchess Camilla could reportedly be set to take on an expanded role within the Royal Family, including the possibility of receiving a prestigious title amid concerns about the Queen’s health.  

Duchess Camilla might already have a prominent royal role given her position as the Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles, who is first in the royal line of succession. Now, however, it’s been suggested that her involvement in carrying out royal engagements and other important commitments could be even more crucial if the Queen should become unable to perform her duties as Head of State.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the recent concerns about the Queen’s health have led Palace Aides to begin drafting plans for the Duchess of Cornwall to take on an expanded role within the Royal Family. Despite the Queen pulling out of a royal trip on “medical advice” in recent weeks and having also now pulled out of the COP26 climate change conference, she has continued her royal duties at Windsor Castle

Though there are four senior royals who are understood to be ready to step in to perform them on her behalf. These prominent royals are known as the Queen’s Counsellors of State and can be asked to take over the monarch’s duties if she is unwell or abroad. The current Counsellors of State include two of the Queen’s children, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, as well as two of the Queen’s grandchildren, Prince William and Prince Harry.

These four were reportedly chosen because each is over the age of 18 and are the four next in the royal line of succession. However, following the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Prince Andrew stepped away from royal duties and isn't a working royal. 

Duchess Camilla of Cornwall, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, attend a ceremony to present a new Queen's Colour to the Royal Air Force.

(Image credit: PAUL GROVER/AFP via Getty Images)

Neither is his nephew Prince Harry, who “stepped back” from royal life with his wife Meghan Markle and has since settled in the US. This could potentially pose a problem in the future as it’s said two Counsellors of State are required to perform critical functions such as providing royal assent on bills passing through Parliament.

In light of this, Dr Craig Prescott, a constitutional expert at Bangor University, told the Mail on Sunday that the current situation could see the Queen appointing other Counsellors of State and Duchess Camilla’s name could potentially be on the list.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II watch a flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

He explained, “There is a small but genuine risk that the non-availability of Counsellors of State could impede the operation of the constitution. It could certainly make the day-to-day running of Government much more tricky. The Counsellors of State are a Plan B from a constitutional point of view, but what happens when Plan B isn’t quite ideal?”

Dr Prescott went on to allege, “The Queen may look to add the Duchess of Cornwall, who would become a Counsellor of State when Charles is King anyway. Or they could go down the line to Princesses Beatrice or Eugenie, or add more members of the family, like Princess Anne or Prince Edward to the list.” 

Queen Elizabeth II sits on the The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords chamber, with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

(Image credit: Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

At the moment it remains to be seen whether Duchess Camilla’s royal role will be expanded more generally, or if she could indeed join her husband, brother-in-law and stepsons as one of the Queen’s Counsellors of State should the need arise. 

Meanwhile, the Queen is currently said to be in “good spirits”, with Buckingham Palace confirming in a statement that “it remains her firm intention to be present for the national service of remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, on 14 November.” 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!