The INSIDER Summary:
• It can be hard to tell what the royal family’s official duties are.
• Generally, every royal supports charities, appears at events, and occasionally travels the globe to strengthen diplomatic relationships.
• But some royals also have day jobs, and others have long military careers.
But — despite the constant flood of royal paparazzi photos and press releases — it can be tough to discern what it is the family members actually do.
The royals don’t need to worry about money, since they’re supported by both taxpayers and a massive family fortune. So if they don’t have to work, what are they doing day in and day out? This guide breaks down their general duties.
Let’s start with the head of the royal family: Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen’s calendar is filled with various activities known by the catch-all term “engagements.”
Engagements include hosting heads of state, taking diplomatic trips, throwing parties at palaces, opening new sessions of Parliament, presenting citizens with awards, and a whole bunch more.
The Telegraph reported that the Queen carried out 341 engagements in 2015 — more than Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate combined. Pretty impressive for a 90-year-old woman.
The Queen must be neutral in all political matters and can’t vote, but she does have a ceremonial role in the UK government. She opens each session of Parliament in person, and has visits with the Prime Minister as well as other world leaders. Any legislation passed by Parliament must also get the Queen’s stamp of approval (technically known as Royal Assent) before becoming law. It’s mostly a formality, though: No monarch has refused to give Royal Assent since 1707, according to the official royal family website.
She also personally presents citizens with titles of honour. Yes, that includes becoming a knight like Elton John or a dame like Helen Mirren — but there’s a slew of other honours for achievements in the military, science, and more.
In addition, she’s the Colonel-in-Chief of the armed forces who presides over many military ceremonies and appoints new archbishops, bishops, and deans as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Her charity work is impressive, too: As of her 90th birthday in April 2016, the Queen was a patron of 600 charities, though the palace recently announced that she’ll be handing off some of her roles in these organisations to other members of the family.
The other royals are there to support the queen and be where she can’t be.
The Queen can’t be in two places at once, so she relies on the rest of the royal family to help fulfil engagements and connect with the public. As a team, the royal family has about 2,000 engagements, entertains 70,000 guests, and answers 100,000 letters every year.
And there are about 3,000 charitable organisations that list a member of the royal family as a patron. Many have established their own charities, too.
The Queen’s husband Philip, for example, attends engagements and is a patron of 800 charities. The Queen’s oldest son, Charles, does lots of international trips with his wife to foster diplomatic relations. William and Kate have also taken a number of official tours, including a trip to Canada earlier this year.
Some members of the family have day jobs, and others served in the military.
A few family members have held non-royal jobs over the years: Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, once worked for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatre company, while his wife had her own PR agency. Andrew, the Queen’s second son, worked in government as the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment. And the Queen’s only daughter, Anne, was an Olympic athlete on Great Britain’s equestrian team.
The family also has a long military history: The Queen, all three of her sons, Prince William, and Prince Harry all served in the armed forces, though none are still active today.
In fact, for the most part, the royals have stepped away from their personal endeavours in order to support the queen full-time.
There are a few notable exceptions: The Queen’s granddaughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, currently seventh and eighth in line to the throne, have day jobs. Eugenie is an associate director at an art gallery, Harper’s Bazaar reports, and Princess Beatrice’s website says that she “works full time in the business world.” The Queen’s first cousin, Prince Michael, has his own consultancy business, and his wife is an interior designer.
The most famous working royal is William, Duke of Cambridge, who
is an air ambulance pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance — though a new report says that he may soon step down from his job to assist the queen, too.
Want to find out more about each royal’s engagements and personal charity work? You can find their detailed bios on the royal family’s official website.
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