The Queen is to hand over substantial public duties to Prince William to help him prepare for the day he becomes king, it was reported last night.
A confidential government briefing proves that plans to ease the burden on the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are at an advanced stage, according to a report in The Mail on Sunday.
The papers, written by Treasury officials in advance of the Budget earlier this year, suggest that Prince William "will spend a significant part of his time on official engagements" from next year. They also state that the 27-year-old prince and his younger brother, Harry, "will increasingly incur expenditure when undertaking engagements on behalf of the Queen".
The Mail on Sunday claimed that the revelations would fuel speculation that the 83-year-old monarch is grooming her grandson as a "shadow king" – and that the crown could skip a generation when she dies, passing over her son, the Prince of Wales, in favour of William, right.
The documents were drawn up in the spring as officials looked at the financial implications of giving Prince Charles tax relief worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, by allowing him to deduct his sons' official expenses from his tax return. The perk funds an office at St James's Palace, with a staff of six, which for some months has been organising the affairs of Prince William and Prince Harry; they were previously represented by Prince Charles's staff.