Prince Harry has waged several legal battles with the British press since stepping down from royal duties in 2020
Prince Harry's eligibility as Counsellors of State was quietly nullified in December 2022. AFP News

King Charles III will not call on Prince Harry to act on his behalf as he recovers from surgery from an enlarged prostate because his son's eligibility as a member of the Counsellors of State was nullified in 2022.

The monarch will undergo a "corrective procedure" this week for the benign condition and has postponed his engagements so he can recuperate. A royal source told People that His Majesty "will be capable of fulfilling his constitutional requirements and duties during this time".

However, the announcement from Buckingham Palace prompted questions from royal watchers whether other members of the royal family will take on his duties in his absence especially those named as Counsellors of State.

The royal family's website mentioned that two or more Counsellors of State would be required to act on the King's behalf on a "temporary basis due to illness or absence abroad". They could pursue duties such as attending Privy Council meetings, signing documents and receiving credentials of new ambassadors to the U.K.

On the contrary, they cannot manage Commonwealth matters, dissolve Parliament "except on His Majesty's express instruction" and create peers or appoint a prime minister. The site noted that "by law, Counsellors of State include the Sovereign's spouse and the next four people in the line of succession who are over the age of 21".

Prince Harry and Prince Andrew were previously listed as Counsellors of State. But The Times spotted that their eligibility were quietly nullified soon after King Charles III' ascension in September 2022 and during the second reading of the Counsellors of State Bill 2022-23.

During the reading in the House of Lords on Nov. 21, 2022, Lord True said that "the Royal Household confirmed that, in practice, only 'working members of the Royal Family will be called on to act as Counsellors of State." He said the bill provided "the right balance between giving additional flexibility and maintaining the underlying structure of the original Act".

The bill became law in December 2022 and included Princess Anne and Prince Edward as Counsellors of State. This means the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of York, who are no longer working royals, cannot be called upon to perform King Charles III's duties.

Prince Harry stepped back from his royal duties in 2020 and moved to California with his wife, Meghan Markle. Meanwhile, Prince Andrew quit public life in 2019 because of his association with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He was also stripped of his royal patronages and military titles in January 2022 by Queen Elizabeth II.