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What is Princess Anne's role in protecting King Charles during his first speech in Parliament?

The Princess Royal arrives at the Sovereign's Entrance to the Palace of Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London. Picture date: Tuesday November 7, 2023. PA Photo. King Charles III is delivering his first King's speech as monarch, having previously deputised for the late Queen to open parliamentary sessions. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
The Princess Royal reprised an important role she held during the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May. (Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 07: Anne, Princess Royal travels from the Houses of Parliament to the Buckingham Palace during the State Opening of Parliament which marks the formal start of the parliamentary year as anti-monarchy demonstrators protest against the monarchy and the Crown in London, United Kingdom on November 07, 2023. King Charles III is set to deliver his first King's Speech as monarch during the State Opening of Parliament, outlining the government's proposed policies and legislation for the coming session. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Princess Anne's significant role in the State Opening of Parliament indicates how much confidence the King has in her, royal sources have suggested. (Getty Images)

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.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 7: Princess Anne, Princess Royal (L) departs Buckingham Palace by horse drawn carriage ahead of the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament on November 7, 2023 in London, England. The speech delivered by the monarch but written by the government sets out the government's priorities for the coming year. This session of parliament will lead up to the next general election. (Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
In her role as Gold-Stick-in-Waiting, Princess Anne rode in a carriage in the grand procession behind the King and Queen to the State Opening of Parliament. (Getty Images)

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 Princess Royal arrives at the Sovereign's Entrance to the Palace of Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London. Picture date: Tuesday November 7, 2023. PA Photo. King Charles III is delivering his first King's speech as monarch, having previously deputised for the late Queen to open parliamentary sessions. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Princess Anne, along with her younger brother Prince Edward, was also given the role of Counsellor of State when King Charles III ascended the throne. (Getty Images)

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: