Prince Charles and Camilla may cancel Middle East tour over Queen’s health fears

COP26: Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at the event in Glasgow

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They are due to be on a four-day visit to Jordan and Egypt starting on November 16 but if the Queen were too ill to ­perform her duties, Charles must stand in as a Counsellor of State. He is one of four appointed under the 1937 Regency Act to undertake key parts of the Queen’s ­constitutional role. They include giving royal assent to laws, appointing judges and QCs, and ­presiding over the Privy Council if she is abroad or too ill to work.

The others are Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew as the next in line to the throne over the age of 18. But Harry, 37, is living in California and no longer doing official royal duties, while Andrew, 61, also stepped away amid a scandal over his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and allegations he slept with a 17-year-old victim of sex trafficking.

The Queen is doing light duties such as signing papers and presiding, by video link, over the Privy Council despite being told to rest for a further two weeks after pulling out of a trip to Northern Ireland on October 20 and going into hospital for secret tests.

But if she needs further treatment and cannot do the paperwork, Charles and William will be required. Charles, 72, is said to be keen on appointing Camilla as a Counsellor of State ­eventually – but that would be no help now if they are abroad together.

Aides say adding other people and removing Harry and Andrew would need to be done by Parliament.

The Queen elevated Camilla, 74, to the Privy Council in 2016 to ensure she is there beside Charles at the Accession Council on the day he becomes king. It was recognition of how much trust Charles places in the advice from his wife.

The official position remains that she will become princess consort when Charles will become king.

Palace officials have insisted there is no need to replace Andrew and Harry as the chances of Charles and William being ­unavailable are remote.

But Craig Prescott, a constitutional expert at Bangor University, said: “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.”

Since their 2005 marriage Camilla has never been as busy as Charles or Princess Anne, often the hardest-working royals, but she won plaudits for highlighting the abuse of women.

Despite Covid restrictions, Camilla did 120 ­engagements last year. In 2019 she completed 224.

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