Definitions

Counsellor_of_State

Counsellor of State

In the United Kingdom, Counsellors of State are senior members of the British royal family to whom the Monarch, presently Elizabeth II, delegates certain state functions and powers when she is abroad or unavailable for other reasons (such as short-term incapacity or sickness). Any two Counsellors of State may attend Privy Council meetings, sign state documents or receive the credentials of new ambassadors to the United Kingdom.

History

The first Counsellors of State were created in 1911 by an order in council of George V, and this process was repeated on each occasion of the King's absence or incapacity. The Regency Act 1937 established in law those individuals that could serve as Counsellors of State. The Counsellors of State are the consort of the monarch and the first four people in the line of succession who meet the qualifications. These qualifications are the same as those for a regent: they must be at least 21 years old (unless s/he is the heir-apparent or presumptive, in which case the requirement is 18 years), they must be domiciled in the United Kingdom, and they must be a British citizen. One exception was made for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (see below).

Since the passage of the Regency Act 1937, the only person to have been a Counsellor of State while not a royal is The Earl of Harewood (although Princess Maud of Fife styled herself simply Lady Southesk); prior to that the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President of the Council, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury had been appointed to the position by George V.

Present

Currently, the Counsellors of State are:

List of Counsellors of State

The following is a list of all the people who have served as a Counsellor of State, since the passage of the Regency Act 1937, in chronological order. Prior to this, Counsellors were only appointed for specific trips and the appointment lapsed on the King's return. Note that this list contains the dates not of when they ruled, but when they actually held the position.

List of Councils of State

George V

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
1911

Note: First Council of State

1925
Mediterranean cruise

1928–1929
King's illness

Note: Lord Hailsham and Baldwin were replaced by Lord Sankey and MacDonald respectively in 1929 after the change of government.

1936
Near death

Edward VIII

Due to the brevity of King Edward's reign, there were no Councils under him.

George VI

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
1939

Absences: The Queen accompanied the King on his trip. Notes: Since the Queen accompanied the King, she was technically not on the Council. However, she was listed among those in the Council. This created a problem, and was solved by the Regency Act 1943, which modified the Regency Act 1937, and said that if someone is absent and does not act as Counsellor, they will not be listed among the Counsellors. This occasion was the first rule of the Council of State under the provisions of the Regency Act 1937.

1943
North Africa tour

Notes: HRH The Princess Elizabeth, the heiress-presumptive, was soon to turn 18. She would have been allowed to reign in her own right or act as a regent to her father on her 18th birthday; however, she could not act in the Council of State until she was 21. This was also fixed by the Regency Act 1943. This was Princess Maud's only time as a Counsellor.

1944

Notes: Though at this time, Viscount Lascelles should have been a Counsellor of State, he was a prisoner of war. The regular solution would be for him to simply be not included among the Counsellors. Nevertheless, Princess Arthur was made a replacement. This was Elizabeth II's first time helping to rule the country.

1947
Tour of Africa
  1. HRH The Duke of Gloucester
  2. HRH The Princess Royal
  3. Viscount Lascelles

Absences within Council: HM The Queen and HRH The Princess Elizabeth were with the King.
Notes: Lord Harewood's first time as a Counsellor of State.

1951
King's illness

Notes: The King had planned to take a cruise with the Queen and Princess Margaret while Princess Elizabeth was on tour; however, this would have only left the Duke of Gloucester and the Princess Royal as Counsellors of State. There were plans to change the law so as to allow someone further down the succession to act as Counsellor of State, but the King died before the issue came up and the Regency Act 1953 did not make this rule.

Elizabeth II

1950s and 1960s

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
tour, 24 November 195310 May 1954

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen.
Notes: First Council under Elizabeth II, first time the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was a Counsellor under the laws of the Regency Act 1953.

28 January
16 February 1956

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen.

21 May23 May 1957

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen.
Notes: This was the first time the 2nd Duke of Kent served as Counsellor of State.

tour of Oceania, 2 February27 March 1963

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH The Duke of Gloucester, HRH Prince William of Gloucester, and HRH The Duke of Kent were also absent.
Notes: Princess Margaret was scheduled to go on a trip to Paris; however, when it was noticed that her trip would leave only the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother to rule the United Kingdom, and at least 2 of the Counsellors are needed to carry out royal duties, her trip was cancelled.

5 October13 October 1964

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH Prince William of Gloucester and HRH The Duke of Kent were also absent.

18 May28 May 1965

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH The Duke of Kent was also absent.

29 June5 July 1967

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH Prince William of Gloucester was also absent.
Notes: This was the Prince of Wales's first appointment.

14 November17 November 1967

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH Prince William of Gloucester was also absent.

5 November11 November 1968

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH Prince William of Gloucester was also absent.

11 November18 November 1968
5 May10 May 1969

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH Prince William of Gloucester was also absent. HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon was also absent at some point.

1970s

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
18 October25 October 1971

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Anne were with the Queen.

Tour of the Indian Ocean, 10 February26 March 1972

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Anne were with the Queen; HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon were also absent.

15 May19 May 1972

Absences within Council: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon and HRH The Prince of Wales were also absent.
Notes: This was Princess Anne's first appointment as a Counsellor of State.

25 June5 July 1973

Notes: This was the first trip on which the Queen went without the Duke of Edinburgh, who therefore stayed behind as a Counsellor of State.

17 October22 October 1973

tour of the South Pacific, 30 January28 February 1974

Tour of the Caribbean and Mexico, 16 February1 March 1975

25 May28 May 1976

Tour of North America, 6 July25 July 1976

Notes: In the Canadian portion of the tour, the Queen opened the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Princess Anne was a participant, part of the British equestrian team. The immediate Royal Family (the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and all four of their children) were all present for part of the games – the first time that they had all been together in one place outside the British Isles. Thus, the Duke, the Prince of Wales, and Princess Anne were unable to act as Counsellors during their respective absences of July. However, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and the Duke of Gloucester were all available for the duration of the tour.

8 November12 November 1976

tour of North America, 14 October2 November 1977

22 May26 May 1978

26 July6 August 1978

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

16 May19 May 1979

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of Africa, 19 July4 August 1979

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

1980s

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
29 April2 May 1980

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

24 May28 May 1980

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

Tour of North Africa, 21 October30 October 1980

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes: Last council for the Duke of Gloucester

5 May8 May 1981

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes: First time Prince Andrew served

tour of Oceania & Sri Lanka, 26 September25 October 1981

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

15 April18 April 1982

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of Oceania, 5 October1 November 1982

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of the Caribbean, 13 February17 February 1983

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

Tour of North America, 8 March – March 1983

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of South Asia and East Africa, 9 November26 November 1983

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

25 March30 March 1984

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

24 September7 October 1984

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes: Princess Margaret's last time on the council

25 March29 March 1985

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes: Prince Edward's first time on the council

tour of the Caribbean, 9 October3 November 1985

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

17 February13 March 1986

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

Tour of East Asia, 12 October23 October 1986

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

9 October24 October 1987

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

19 April10 May 1988

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

17 October21 October 1988

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

8 March11 March 1989

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of Southeast Asia, 9 October21 October 1989

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

1990s

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
tour of Australasia and Singapore, 1 February17 February 1990

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

Tour of the North Atlantic, 25 June1 July 1990

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

''14 May17 May 1991

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of Southern Africa, 8 October19 October 1991

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

18 February25 February 1992

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

28 May30 May 1992

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

9 June12 June 1992

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

30 June2 July 1992

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

19 October23 October 1992

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

4 May7 May 1993

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

18 October24 October 1993

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour of the Caribbean, 18 February10 March 1994

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

13 August22 August 1994

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

17 October20 October 1994

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

19 March25 March 1995

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

30 October11 November 1995

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

Tour of Eastern Europe, 25 March29 March 1996

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

28 October1 November 1996

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

23 June2 July 1997

Absences within Council: HRH The Prince of Wales represent The Queen in the Hong Kong handover ceremony in the transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China
Notes:

tour on the Indian subcontinent, 6 October18 October 1997

Absences within Council: Unknown
Notes:

tour on the Indian subcontinent, 17 September23 September 1998

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with The Queen; The Princess Royal departed for Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Mauritius on the evening of 21 September
Notes:

19 April22 April 1999

Absences within Council: The Queen was accompanied by Prince Philip
Notes:

tour of Africa, 7 November15 November 1999

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was on a tour of the gulf until the evening of 11 November; The Earl of Wessex was in the USA until the evening of 10 November
Notes:

2000s

Year and occasion/destination Counsellors
17 March1 April 2000

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was on a tour of the Caribbean until the morning of 21 March
Notes:

16 October19 October 2000

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen
Notes:

30 May1 June 2001

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen
Notes:

tour, 18 February3 March 2002

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was on a tour of the Americas from 27 February; The Prince of Wales departed for Brazil and Mexico on the evening of 3 March
Notes: The Earl of Wessex and Princess Royal acted as Counsellors in facilitating the succession of the new High Commissioner for Brunei Darussalam on 21 February

4 October15 October 2002

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH The Earl of Wessex
  3. HRH The Princess Royal

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was on a tour of Southwest Asia; The Earl of Wessex was in Finland until the afternoon of 6 October, and The Princess Royal was in Ethiopia 7 October11 October
Notes: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was no longer able to serve on the council, due to her death on 30 March

3 December6 December 2003

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH The Earl of Wessex

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was on a tour of the Middle East
Notes: Prince William's first appointment as counsellor

5 April7 April 2004

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Earl of Wessex was also (separately) in France
Notes:

2 November4 November 2004

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Earl and Countess of Wessex were in Poland; The Duke of York visited the United Arab Emirates on 3 November, for the funeral of the late President Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
Notes:

17 May26 May 2005

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was in France until 18 May, and departed for Azerbaijan on 25 May
Notes: The Earl's last time as a counsellor

23 November26 November 2005

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
  4. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen
Notes: Prince Harry's first appointment as counsellor

12 March18 March 2006

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
  4. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen
Notes:

Tour of Baltic Europe, 17 October20 October 2006

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
  4. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen
Notes:

3 May8 May 2007

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
  4. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Duke of York was in Canada until the morning of 6 May
Notes:

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, 20 November24 November 2007

  • , on the occasion of their Diamond Wedding

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
  4. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen; The Prince of Wales joined his parents for the CHOGM, departing Britain on the morning of 22 November
Notes: First time either of the young princes were counsellors without their father (in this event, for just more than two days)

13 May16 May 2008

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales
  2. HRH Prince William of Wales
  3. HRH Prince Henry of Wales
  4. HRH The Duke of York

Absences within Council: The Duke of Edinburgh was with the Queen
Notes: Data on 16 May as yet not available

See also

References

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