What Does The British Royal Family Actually Do?



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Living like a royal means working like a royal. Though they enjoy unimaginable privileges - like getting to live in extravagant palacesmembers of the British royal family have duties to perform. These various tasks and responsibilities keep Queen Elizabeth II's family busy.

Ever since she became queen in 1952, Elizabeth II has been a royal workhorse. Unlike weird royals in history who may have ignored their responsibilities, she completes all of the duties expected of a British monarch on a daily basis and takes her work seriously. The queen isn't the only working royal. Her husband Prince Philip shouldered some of her responsibilities for decades. Their children - Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward - take on royal duties full-time, as have some of the royal grandchildren, including Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

From attending events to conducting tours abroad, these various jobs show how members of the royal family see their work as a form of public service.


  • They Have More Than 2,000 Official Engagements Every Year

    Members of the British royal family don't just sit around all day - they're expected to work. Royal labor usually means attending a wide range of functions, from public charity events to private meetings, openings, and everything in between.

    The queen has always undertaken a lot of these engagements, but she's not the only one - anyone in the family could theoretically attend these engagements as a royal representative. In 2018, the queen's two eldest children - Prince Charles and Princess Anne - attended the most engagements. 

  • The Queen Approves All Legislation Passed By Parliament

    The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, which means the king or queen's powers are severely limited. Unlike her medieval and early modern predecessors, Elizabeth's role is more symbolic than political. Parliament, not the monarch, runs the country. 

    In the modern constitutional monarchy, the monarch acts as a rubber stamp: Elizabeth gives her approval - known as the royal assent - for all legislation passed by Parliament. 

  • They Entertain 70,000 Guests At Official Royal Events
    Photo: National Library of Australia / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    They Entertain 70,000 Guests At Official Royal Events

    Tens of thousands of people turn out for events hosted by the Windsors. In fact, the royal family estimates that they host around 70,000 people annually for official functions. One of the biggest series of events each year are the royal garden parties, which host 30,000 people in London and Edinburgh throughout the summer.

    Official royal events are by invitation only, and garden party invitees often work in public service.

  • The Queen Bestows Royal Honors

    Among the tasks the queen must perform is honoring individuals through official ceremonies. Two times a year - on New Year's and the queen's birthday - the queen announces a list of individuals who will receive knighthoods and appointments into royal orders. Some of the royal honors include the Order of the British Empire.

    Those who have received these honors go through an investiture ceremony in which the queen - or another high-ranking member of the royal family acting in her stead - presents them with a medal.

  • Members Of The Royal Family Patronize About 3,000 Charities Combined
    Photo: Staff Sgt. Alex Manne / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Members Of The Royal Family Patronize About 3,000 Charities Combined

    Perhaps one of the most meaningful roles members of the royal family have is to act as patrons of charities. Each high-ranking member of the family chooses a variety of charities to patronize. Being a royal patron means being a kind of spokesperson and PR representative; the royal family member's name brings valuable exposure to the individual charity. The queen alone has helped raise over £1 billion for charities.

    Royal family members usually patronize charities that reflect their interests. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, majored in art history at the University of St. Andrews and now patronizes a number of arts organizations, including London's National Portrait Gallery. As a former actor, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, patronizes the National Theatre. Prince Harry's Invictus Games - an international sporting event for wounded veterans - supports servicemen and servicewomen.

  • Most High-Ranking Royal Family Members Support The Queen Full-Time
    Photo: Carfax2 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Most High-Ranking Royal Family Members Support The Queen Full-Time

    Elizabeth has tirelessly done her duties as queen for decades. But she has always had other high-ranking members of the royal family around to shoulder some of her responsibilities. All of her children and some of her grandchildren undertake official responsibilities full-time. 

    These "working royals" spend their days exclusively performing royal duties. Other royals take on some royal tasks while still maintaining their own careers. The queen's granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, for example, both have jobs outside the royal family, but still perform some royal duties.