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Britain's royal family is down to its last 9 working royals, many of them older and obscure

Britain's royal family is down to its last 9 working royals, many of them older and obscure
  • Kate Middleton and King Charles have both announced they're undergoing cancer treatment.

  • Their temporary withdrawal leaves only nine working royals, most of whom are in their 70s and 80s.

  • Here's a rundown of all the remaining royals and their roles.

With Kate Middleton and King Charles temporarily out of action, Britain's royal family has relatively few people holding the fort.

Kate, 42, announced on Friday that she had been diagnosed with cancer and that she was undergoing chemotherapy.

Charles, 75, said in February that he had cancer and that he would temporarily step back from public-facing duties.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle have not been working royals since 2020.

The latest announcements leave the royal family in a vulnerable situation. The monarchy is now reduced to a handful of working royals. The majority are in their 70s and 80s, which is older than the UK's state retirement age of 66.

Here's a complete rundown of all the remaining royals as Kate and Charles focus on their health.

Prince William, 41, is heir to the throne — but is cutting back on some work to support his wife.

prince william
The Prince of Wales attends the 2024 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

William, Prince of Wales, is next in line to the British throne, followed by his children.

William has mostly continued with royal engagements during Kate's absence. An exception was the memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine, which he pulled out of last minute on February 27.

"HRH will continue to balance supporting his wife and family and maintaining his official duties as he has done since the start of the year," a Kensington Palace spokesperson told Business Insider, using the abbreviation for "his royal highness."

Royal biographer Phil Dampier previously told BI that the monarchy "could, with the wrong unforeseen circumstances, collapse quite quickly," if something were to happen to both the king and William.

"It could lose a lot of power and ability to operate if god forbid, some other disaster happened," he said.

Queen Camilla, 76, has stepped up during the king's absence.

Queen Camilla
Queen Camilla attends the 2024 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Camilla, formerly known as the Duchess of Cornwall, became queen consort when Charles ascended the throne on September 8, 2022. Her title was changed to queen after his coronation in May 2023.

Camilla has stepped up and taken on a greater proportion of royal duties during the king's absence. A royal source, who spoke anonymously to The Telegraph, said she was "proud" to take on more work.

Jack Royston, a royal commentator, told BI that Camilla faces "a lot of responsibility and pressure," especially while support for the monarchy appears to be decreasing among young people.

Prince Edward, 60, is supporting Camilla with increased duties.

Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, attends the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 13, 2023, in London.
Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, attends the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 13, 2023, in London.Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Edward, 60, is the king's youngest brother and the most senior male in the family after William.

He inherited the title of Duke of Edinburgh in 2023. It was previously held by his father, Prince Philip.

Edward is married to Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, and they have two children together: Lady Louise Windsor, 20, and James, Earl of Wessex, 16.

Edward participated in various public engagements in March, including a visit to Uganda on behalf of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation and Association.

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, 59, wasn't always a working royal.

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh
Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh attends the Royal Windsor Horse Show on July 3, 2021 in Windsor, England.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Edward's wife, Sophie, has been a member of the royal family since their wedding in 1999.

Sophie worked in PR and Edward ran his own production company until 2002, when they announced that they would become full-time working royals to support Queen Elizabeth II in the year of her Golden Jubilee.

Sophie is a patron of 70 charities and organizations, according to her biography on the royal website. Causes she supports focus on the well-being of children and young people, equality for women, and eliminating avoidable blindness.

She inherited the Duchess of Edinburgh title when Edward was named duke in 2023.

Princess Anne, 73, is one of the busiest royals.

Princess Anne attends day three of Royal Ascot wearing a white hat and green dress
Princess Anne attends day three of Royal Ascot on June 22, 2023.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Anne, The Princess Royal, is Charles's only sister. She is often credited as being one of the busiest and most hard-working royals.

In 2023 she carried out 457 engagements, the most of any royal, according to The Telegraph.

Though she often maintains a low profile, Anne had a key role after her mother Elizabeth II died in 2022. She accompanied the coffin as it traveled from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh, and later to Windsor, England, for the funeral.

Prince Richard, 79, ranks lower in the line of succession.

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester attends the 2024 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11.CHRIS Jackson GETTY IMAGES

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is a cousin of Elizabeth II.

He is associated with 150 charities and organizations, including those that support the environment, veterans, and humanitarian issues. He also filled in at recent events including the Commonwealth Day service in March and the memorial service for Greece's King Constantine in February.

Richard is so far back in the line of succession that he isn't featured on the royal website's succession page, which lists the 24 adults and children closest to the throne.

Like her husband, Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, 77, keeps a low profile.

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester attends the 2024 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Birgitte, the Duchess of Gloucester, 76, was born in Denmark and relocated to the UK to attend finishing school in Cambridge, where she met Prince Richard.

They wed on July 8, 1972, and Birgitte has been a working royal ever since.

Birgitte keeps a low profile and isn't often reported on in the media. She supports more than 60 organizations across the arts, the military, sports, health, welfare, and education, the royal website states.

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, 88, is the oldest working royal.

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent attends a Service of Thanksgiving to mark 200 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) at Westminster Abbey on March 4.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince Edward was a first cousin to both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and he became the oldest working royal after the Queen died at the age of 96.

He appeared to have a close relationship with Elizabeth; at the monarch's Platinum Jubilee in 2022, he was the only royal to accompany Her Majesty on her warmly received appearance on the palace balcony, People reported.

Richard's work for the monarchy began after he retired from the British Army in 1976 at the age of 41, according to the royal website.

Similarly to Richard and Birgitte, Edward is not as well known as some of the younger royals who are among the top 24 in the line of succession.

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, 87, appears to be the lowest-ranking of the working royals.

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy attends a Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 14, 2022.Karwai Tang/Getty Images

Alexandra is the sister to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

At the time of her birth in 1936, Alexandra was sixth in line to the throne, Town and Country reported in 2023. She's now 57th in line.

She too seemed to be close to Elizabeth II, having been a bridesmaid at her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947, the outlet reported. In recent years, she supported the late monarch at events including Trooping the Colour. More recently, she attended King Charles' coronation in May, and she was also present at King Constantine's memorial service in February.

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