Prince Charles already was working on plans for changing Britain's royal family when his father died. Now with Prince Philip gone, Queen Elizabeth II having turned 95, and the pandemic still limiting the monarch's activities, the pressure to make those decisions has intensified. Prince Harry has withdrawn, and Prince Andrew has partially disappeared from public view after he was accused of sexual assault by a victim of Jeffrey Epstein. That puts Charles well on his way to the smaller working family he'd envisioned, though he'd originally seen Harry and his wife, Meghan, as part of the core, along with himself and his wife, Camilla, and Prince William and his wife, Kate. The idea was a more modern, cost-efficient monarchy. A few of the changes to come seem clear, the New York Times reports, though a journalist who's written about the family points out the House of Windsor is not always predictable.
The queen surely will cut back her schedule considerably, possibly only spending two days a week at Buckingham Palace and the rest of her time at Windsor Castle, where she's spent the pandemic. Charles will pick up some of the slack, including standing in where his father did for decades; he's already accompanied his mother to the official opening of Parliament. He'll do that again next month, per the Mirror. William and Kate also will assume more duties, a staff member said. What's not clear is which appearances the family will stop making. There are about 2,000 official events a year. The Windsors are committed to the military, and many of their diplomatic events can't be dropped. Andrew Morton, who writes about the royals, said that leaves charity involvement. But that work is popular and has been used to justify the public expense of funding the family. "The key development of the monarchy in the 20th century is the development of the welfare monarchy," a King's College professor says, "without which it won't survive." (Read more Prince Charles stories.)