The Queen, 95, has proven herself to be a dedicated monarch for nearly the last seven decades, but in recent weeks she has been required to take some time off for her health.
Should the Queen require further support in the future, several members of the Royal Family are able to fill in for the Queen where necessary. And according to law, Prince Harry could be required to step in should the Queen ever be temporarily indisposed.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle stepped down from their royal duties in March 2020, after first announcing their plans to leave their senior royal roles behind earlier in the year.
Now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex no longer complete royal duties in an official capacity, they are free to pursue their own projects away from the confines of the crown.
Harry and Meghan have set up their base in California in the US, where they live in a sprawling mansion with their two children, Archie and Lilibet.
But while it may seem like Harry has firmly said goodbye to life as a senior working member of the Royal Family, he could be required to return to royal duties to help the Queen one day.
Why could Prince Harry return to royal duties?
As the Queen gets older, there may be times where she has to depend on her Royal Family members for support.
Professor Vernon Bogdanor, an author, political scientist, and expert on the British constitution told the Guardian: “Obviously, as the Queen gets older, more duties will be devolved upon other members of the Royal Family.
“The other royals can do anything except the constitutional functions, such as audiences with the prime minister and signing acts of parliament.” Although the Queen has had some health issues in recent weeks, there has been no word from the Palace on any plans to abdicate the throne.
But there are safeguards in place to protect the crown should the monarch ever be temporarily indisposed, such as because of illness or being out of the UK. Counselors of State are appointed to carry out most of the sovereign’s official duties if necessary.
This means the counselors can attend Privy Council meetings and sign many of the monarch’s documents if need be. The law dictates that in the case of the monarch being indisposed, counselors would include the monarch’s spouse and the next four people in the line of succession aged 21 and above.
The next four people in the line of succession who meet this criterion currently include Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, and Prince Andrew. This means, in theory, that Harry may have to return to royal duties in the UK to help the Queen if required.
But it may also be that Harry is replaced in this duty, with some reports suggesting Princess Beatrice or Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall could take up the responsibility. While Prince William and Charles are both working members of the Royal Family, Andrew and Harry are not.
And Harry is also no longer based in the UK, which may mean he is unable to fulfill this duty should he be called upon to do so. Mr. Bogdanor told the MailOnline: “A Counsellor not domiciled in the UK cannot act, so that excludes Harry. “The next in line and over the required age of 21 would be Princess Beatrice.