What would happen if Charles III, suffering from cancer, was unable to perform his duties?

He cancer diagnosis of King Charles III raise an important question: what will happen if he is unable to fulfill his constitutional obligations? Buckingham Palace has announced that, despite the illness, he will continue to carry out his official procedures and hold his weekly meetings with the Prime Minister throughout his treatment. But What will happen if you fall seriously ill?

There are three options: councilors of state, regency and abdication.

State Councilors

First of all, King Charless can delegate some or most of its actual functions to state councilors, as happens when you travel abroad. Two State Councilors can jointly exercise royal powers such as approving laws, receiving ambassadors and holding meetings of the Council. Privy Council.

The state councilors are the spouse of the sovereign (Queen Camilla) and the next four adults in line to the throne (in this case, Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice).

However, Prince Harry is excluded while outside the UK, and in practice the Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice are not called upon to perform as they are not “working royals.”

This would leave us only the queen Camilla and Prince William. But in 2022, a law for add to list Princess Anne and Prince Edward .

Councilors of state can perform most of the sovereign’s functions while he is ill, but cannot dissolve Parliament except by order. Nor can they create peers or exercise powers with respect to others. 14 kingdoms that recognize the king as their head of state. Namely: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The question of whether councilors can appoint a prime minister remains a matter of debate.


The second option is a regency. This occurs if the king “is, for reasons of illness of mind or body, temporarily unable to carry out royal functions.”. The sovereign does not control the timing or duration of the regency, but is initiated by a declaration by three or more of the following: the sovereign’s spouse, the lord chancellor, the speaker of the House of Commons, the lord president of the Supreme Court of England and the senior judge of the court of appeal.

The Regency Law of the United Kingdom demands that Prince William be regent, as he is the next adult in the line of succession to the crown. According to this law, the regent has the same powers as the king with respect to the United Kingdom, but cannot change the order of succession to the crown. Nor does it grant the regent powers in relation to the kingdoms.


The last option for an incapacitated monarch it is abdication.

When King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, he did so by signing a instrument of abdicationpromulgating a legislation to which the different kingdoms gave their consent. This is not possible today, since el United Kingdom can no longer legislate regarding kingdoms like Australia.

Does that mean that if King Charles abdicates a separate abdication of the king of Australia would be necessary? Or would it apply clause 2 of the Constitution, which defines the sovereign by reference to Queen Victoria’s “heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom”?

Explodes constitutional confusion would generate by addressing the king’s role in his 14 kingdoms beyond the United Kingdom, which would most likely prevent abdication.

Consequences for other countries

If King Charles were incapacitated and state councilors or a regent were appointed, would this cause any real problems in Australia?

The only ones The king’s remaining substantial powers with respect to Australia are the appointment and dismissal of the governor-general and state governors. The governor general’s term is expected to expire mid-year. If King Charles was then seriously ill and unable to appoint a new governor-general, no one could do so, since neither the councilors of state nor a regent could do so.

In his place, the current governor general, David Hurley, could choose to continue in office, since there is no formal cessation of his position until he is replaced.

Alternatively, pcould resign and his position could be temporarily filled by a state governor such as administrator, a common practice when there is a vacancy in the position. However, if a regency were to last for a long time – perhaps years – this could become unsustainable.

The other consideration is that, if there is a regency, there is no power to dismiss a governor general. Therefore, if in these circumstances ato constitutional crisis, the governor general would know that he can act without the risk of being removed by the prime minister. This unbalances the constitutional pressures deliberately built into the system, giving more power to the governor general and weakening the position of the prime minister.

He problem could be addressed in the same way that the rules of succession to the throne were changed in 2015 to eliminate gender discrimination. It would involve each state asking the Commonwealth to enact a law recognizing the authority of a regent to exercise the powers of the sovereign in respect of Australia.

Although it is not essential to solve this problem, it would be prudent, as a matter of constitutional order, to address it before real difficulties arise.

Anne TwomeyProfessor Emerita, University of Sydney

This article was originally published in The Conversation. read the original.

Post Comment