As the world, and more particularly the United Kingdom, is eagerly awaiting the birth of Prince William and Princess Catherine’s second child, we thought it topical to clarify the delicate matter of the order of succession to the British throne.
In the United Kingdom, succession is governed by the Act of Union of 1800, which reinstated the Act of Settlement of 1701 and the Bill of Rights of 1689.
These stated that Protestant heirs of Princess Sophia, grand daughter of King James Ist only may become monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Catholics, individuals who marry a Catholic or individuals born out of wedlock cannot remain in the line of succession.
In practice, the crown was passed from the monarch to the eldest son. If a monarch had sons, they took precedence over the daughters. In the case of Elisabeth II, King George VI had no sons and the crown was handed down to his eldest daughter. In turn, the crown will be handed down to her eldest son, Prince Charles of Wales. This meant that even though, the Princess Royal, Princess Ann, is older than her brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, they come before her in the line of succession.
However, a law passed on March 26th 2015 has removed the male bias from the succession rules, which means that the future Princess of Cambridge will not lose her place in the line of succession even if she were to have one or more younger brothers.
The current line of succession is the following.
- Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
- Prince George of Cambridge
- Princess (?) of Cambridge
- Prince Henry of Wales
- Prince Andrew, Duke of York
- Princess Beatrice of York
- Princess Eugenie of York
- Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
- James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn
- Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor
- Princess Ann, the Princess Royal
Incidentally, thanks to the new law, both Prince George and his little sister will also be able to marry Catholics without losing their place in the line of succession.