How the Royal Family have been supporting the Queen since Prince Philip retired

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7 min read

Watch: Prince Philip: The Queen returns to royal duties after Duke of Edinburgh's death

Senior members of the Royal Family will appear with the Queen at engagements as they seek to support her in the wake of Prince Philip's death. 

According to the Daily Mail, officials and family members have "long had an eye" on supporting the monarch more in her public role and it "seems sensible to start employing this now".

Prince Philip retired from his public duties in August 2017, having carried out tens of thousands of engagements since his wife became Queen.

It has not been unusual to see members of the family alongside their mother or grandmother as she carries out engagements.

It's been suggested she will be seen more frequently with her daughter Princess Anne, her sons Prince Charles and Prince Edward and her daughter-in-laws Camilla and Sophie. 

She may also carry out more work with Prince William and Kate. The Duke of Cambridge is the only grandchild of the Queen who carries out royal duties since Prince Harry and Meghan stepped back.

Prince Charles and Camilla

Prince Charles's role alongside his mother has been growing for several years as she scales back the amount of work she does.

She stopped flying abroad in 2015, but Charles and his wife Camilla continue trips to other countries in her name.

At key events like Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph, it is Charles who lays the wreath on his mother's behalf.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales lays a wreath during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. This year, the service has been closed to members of the public due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Charles lays a wreath during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in 2020. He has done this on behalf of his mother for several years. (Aaron Chown/AFP)

Read more: Everything we know about Prince Philip's funeral

The Queen and Charles have become closer over the years, and were photographed on a walk together over the Easter weekend.

And while Philip was in hospital in February and March 2021, Charles was his only visitor, likely to have relayed how his father was doing to his mother.

The Prince of Wales has been said to have been taking on more responsibility within the family too, and that will continue now the Duke of Edinburgh has died.

During the pandemic, as the royals switched to virtual engagements, Camilla even appeared alongside the Queen on one video call, showing a growing relationship.

The Queen greeted her daughter-in-law with a cheery "Hello Camilla!" to which the duchess replied "Good morning. How are you?" as they spoke to volunteers in March. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall will likely continue to be the first port of call for foreign trips over the next few months as restrictions ease.

Princess Anne

The only daughter of the Queen and the duke, Princess Anne is already known for her work ethic.

In fact she was the first royal seen out and about back at work after Prince Philip's death, visiting a sailing club in Cowes on the Isle of Wight just five days later.

The Queen has also carried out a virtual engagement with Anne during the coronavirus pandemic.

She is likely to continue to rely on Anne to carry out the high number of trips she does every year.

The Princess Royal at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, on the Isle of Wight. (PA Images)
The Princess Royal at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, on the Isle of Wight just a few days after her father's death. (PA Images)

Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex

Even before the Duke of Edinburgh's death there was an increasingly public role for the Countess of Wessex, who the Queen is understood to be very close to.

The two women reportedly enjoy film afternoons together on Saturdays, and the countess has been stepping up her royal work throughout the pandemic.

It was thought she would be seen more in the absence of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who stepped back from their duties in March 2020.

Prince Edward is already looking after his father's beloved Duke of Edinburgh awards, which Philip was passionate about.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 13: Prince Edward, Earl of Essex speaking to Duke of Edinburgh's International Gold Award Recipients at Sydney Town Hall on September 13, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. It is the largest of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Gold Award Ceremonies ever to take place outside the UK and is part of a series of events taking place to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in Australia. (Photo by James Gourley/Getty Images)
Prince Edward at an event to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in Australia. (James Gourley/Getty Images)

His wife is seen more often on the Royal Family's social media than he is, but with an important legacy of his father's in his gift, Edward may find himself compared more to the late duke.

He is also to inherit the title of the Duke of Edinburgh – but not before the Queen dies.

At the moment, the title is with his older brother Prince Charles, as it was hereditary, but when the Queen dies it will merge with the crown.

Charles will then recreate it and bestow it on his youngest brother, making Sophie the Duchess of Edinburgh.

Queen Elizabeth II and The Countess of Wessex leave after attending a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Queen and the Countess of Wessex leave after attending a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. The two women are close. (Joe Giddens/PA Images)

Prince William and Kate

In various stages of lockdown easing, it has been the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who have been seen first in public, because as the youngest working royals they were least vulnerable to coronavirus.

It was Prince William who accompanied his grandmother to Porton Down in Salisbury last year when she carried out an in-person engagement after several months inside Windsor Castle.

She may continue to turn to the two of them as the younger faces in the Royal Family.

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (L) stands by as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) unveils a plaque to officially open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down science park on October 15, 2020 near Salisbury, England. The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) where they were to view displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence, a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation and meet staff who were involved in the Salisbury Novichok incident. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness also formally opened the new Energetics Analysis Centre. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William with the Queen at Porton Down science park in October 2020. (Ben Stansall – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Read more: Who will support the Queen after Prince Philip's death?

Prince William and Kate have the added advantage of enjoying high levels of popularity, with William frequently second to the Queen in polls by YouGov.

The duke and duchess had been ready to step up engagements after the decision by Harry and Meghan to step back and move to the US.

They will want to ensure they can continue to be hands-on parents to their three children, princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte. 

It is rare to see the duchess accompany the Queen to engagements, but Her Majesty might choose her more often as restrictions begin to ease.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 10: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiegne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge at the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph in 2019. The two women don't often carry out engagements as a duo – here they were with other family members. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Although the Queen is in a period of mourning, she has still carried out an engagement of her own, and even sent a message to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines following a series of eruptions of the Caribbean nation’s La Soufriere volcano.

She carried out a ceremony to mark the retirement of Earl Peel, her former Lord Chamberlain, who retired earlier this month after 14 years in the role.

She also then sent a message to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines that said she was "saddened by the destruction and major disruption caused by volcanic eruptions in recent days".

It's the type of message she would usually send as being on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh as well as herself, but is the first one to be shared following his death.

It's understood she encouraged Princess Anne to visit Cowes on the Isle of Wight on Wednesday to carry out a pre-scheduled engagement.

The two women were said to be in agreement that it was what the duke would have wanted.

It could indicate the Queen will not wish to reduce her activities too much following the death of her husband, who was known for his commitment to duty.