Royal commentators drew parallels with the abdication crisis of Edward VIII who gave up the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson and lived out his life in France.

Opponents of the monarchy were scathing and even supporters questioned how one could be a part-time royal.

“This really is wanting to have your cake and eat it,” said Graham Smith, head of Republic which wants to abolish the monarchy.

“They have said they will dip in and out of royal duties as it suits them but won’t stop taking public money until they find other sources of income.”