King Charles III has delivered his first King’s Speech since he ascended the throne at the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday 7 November. Aside from his wife Queen Camilla, he requested the presence of one of his most trusted family members before, during and after the ceremony: his sister, the Princess Royal.
Princess Anne rode in the procession as Gold-Stick-in-Waiting, a role in which she acted as her brother’s “protector”. She also took on this role before and during the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla in May.
The prestigious role of Gold-Stick-in-Waiting is historically handed to a person who is entrusted with the personal safety of the monarch. The King’s choice of entrusting Princess Anne with his safety is likely a strong indication of how much faith he has in her, with a royal source quoted by The Mirror as saying: “This is a fantastic addition by the King and further cements the Princess Royal’s role as his most trusted lieutenant.”
Anne also entered the chamber alongside the King, marking the first time she has accompanied the monarch at a state opening since 1985. At the time, she joined her and Charles’ late mother Queen Elizabeth II.
Watch:King Charles delivers first King's Speech in 70 years
Significance of the Gold-Stick-in-Waiting
The Gold Stick, along with the Silver Stick, are formal bodyguard positions in the British Royal Household. The roles have been around since the Tudor period (1485-1603) when two officers were placed in charge of protecting the monarch from danger.
The roles are now ceremonial, but in previous times, the two officers would place one gold and one silver rod by the monarch during royal ceremonies, such as the coronation.
As the Colonel of the blues and Royals, which she was appointed in 1998, Anne was asked to take on the role ahead of King Charles’ coronation earlier this year. She told CBC: “I have a role as the Colonel of the Blues and Royals in the Household Cavalry regiment as Gold-Stick [in-Waiting]. And Gold Stick was the original close protection officer. So that is a role I was asked if I’d like to do for this coronation, so I said yes.”
Meanwhile, the Silver Stick is the Commander of the Household Cavalry and is held by someone with the rank of colonel. The person appointed this role usually acts as a deputy assistant to the Gold-Stick-in-Waiting.
What other important roles does Princess Anne hold?
Apart from being the King’s Gold-Stick-in-Waiting, Princess Anne was also made a Counsellor of State alongside her younger brother Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, when Charles ascended the throne.
Counsellor of State means that if the King falls sick, is travelling abroad, or otherwise unable to carry out his duties, Anne or Edward will be able to step in his place.
The position is usually held by the monarch’s spouse, followed by the first four people in the line of succession over the age of 21. This would have been Queen Camilla, followed by Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, and Princess Beatrice.
However, with Harry and Andrew no longer working as senior royals in the family, Parliament introduced a bill to expand the cohort to include two more people who could be called upon to stand in for the King in the event he is unable to carry out his duties.
Read more about the King's speech:
Mind responds to Mental Health Bill being dropped from King's Speech (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)
Princess Anne will protect King during his first state opening of Parliament (The Telegraph, 3-min read)