LONDON—Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has long wanted a slim-line British monarchy. His vision is slowly turning to reality in an unexpected way.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are the latest senior royals to leave as full-time working members of the monarchy, following a public showdown with Buckingham Palace over their roles within the family.
Their departure, coming just over a year after the Prince Andrew, Prince Charles’s younger brother, stepped down from front-line royal duties amid a scandal, leaves Britain’s monarchy with about 12 full-time working royals.
Given the expense of supporting the royal family, “really it should be about six,” said David McClure, an author and expert on royal finances.
Prince Charles is heading efforts to prune the family members who enjoy financial support from the palace, but the difficulties in managing the exit of Prince Harry—who is now pursuing a number of commercial ventures in the U.S. with Ms. Markle—illustrate how hard that will be.
Indeed, a large cast of royals who leave full-time duties expose the palace to the risk that such figures will exploit their regal connections for profit, possibly undermining the monarchy’s image—and alienating British taxpayers who foot ballooning security and other costs.