Royal followers have been curious to know who will take over after Queen Elizabeth for years. The monarch, who ascended to the throne in 1952, continues to rule today—but her successor has already been determined.
The British royal line of succession is based on the order of the Queen’s descendants and a series of legislative rules passed by Parliament. These include the U.K.’s Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement (which was later restated by the Acts of Union), which generally dictated that an exiting monarch’s eldest son would be first in line for the throne. The Succession Crown Act of 2013, however, reversed this rule for future heirs “to make succession to the Crown not depend on gender,” meaning that daughters of future monarchs can also have the chance to rule one day.
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But where does that leave us today? Currently, the heir-apparent to the throne is Charles, Prince of Wales. The Queen’s eldest son is expected to become king following her death or abdication—whichever comes first. It was previously rumored that the Queen was planning to allow Prince Charles to take the throne after her 95th birthday in 2021, according to Robert Jobson, author of Charles At Seventy. “I still firmly believe when the Queen becomes 95, that she will step down,” he said during an episode for The Royal Bea, a True Royalty TV weekly program.
This prediction, however, was soon proven false, as a source told People that the Queen planned to continue serving as monarch indefinitely. “Neither her physical nor her mental health are waning,” the insider told the magazine. A second source noted that the Queen remains “well” and “in good fettle,” so much so that she was still enjoying horseback rides in her older years.
People also reported that a spokesperson for Prince Charles‘ office revealed in January 2021 that there had yet to be any discussions about the Queen’s abdication. “There are no plans for any change in arrangements at the age of 95—or any other age,” the spokesperson said at the time. Clearly, given the Queen’s commitment to the throne, it’s unlikely that she’ll be stepping down anytime soon so long as it’s up to her. But for when the time comes, here’s a list of everyone who will rule over the U.K. one day.
Prince Charles is the heir-apparent to the British throne. He is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. His wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, will take on the title of Princess Consort when her husband becomes king.
2. Prince William
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is second in line to the British throne as the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. His wife, Duchess Kate, will be known formally as Queen Consort when he becomes king.
3. Prince George
Prince William and Duchess Kate’s son, Prince George, is third in line to the British throne as their eldest child. If the young prince has children one day, his kids will follow right behind him in the line of succession.
4. Princess Charlotte
Princess Charlotte is the daughter of Prince William and Duchess Kate. As their second-born child, she is fourth in line to the throne behind her older brother, Prince George. Her position in the royal line of succession may drop one day if George decides to have children of his own.
5. Prince Louis of Cambridge
As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s youngest child, Prince Louis is fifth in line to the throne today.
6. Prince Harry
Prince Harry takes sixth place on the line of succession behind his niece and nephews. He is the youngest son of Prince Charles’ and the late Princess Diana, putting him behind his older brother William and his expanding family.
7. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is Prince Harry’s first child with his wife, Meghan Markle. While the California-based royal is unlikely to rule one day, he still takes his place behind his father at seventh in line to the British throne.
8. Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, is currently eighth in line to the British throne behind her older brother Archie, her dad, cousins and uncle William.
9. Prince Andrew
The Duke of York is Queen Elizabeth II’s third child and second son. At present, he is ninth in the line of succession to the British throne.
10. Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice is the eldest child and daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, which puts her tenth in line to the British throne. She has a daughter, Sienna Mapelli Mozzi, and a younger sister, Princess Eugenie, who follow her in that order in the line of succession.
For more about the British royal family, check out Sally Bedell Smith’s 2012 biography, Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. The New York Times bestseller, which includes the “real story” behind several storylines featured in Netflix’s The Crown, follows Queen Elizabeth II’s life from her childhood as the “heiress presumptive” to her father, King George VI; to the moment he et her husband, Prince Philip, when she was 13 years old; to her ascension to the throne at 25 years old in 1952. Elizabeth the Queen, which also includes interviews with Buckingham Palace sources and never-before-revealed documents, provides a deep dive into the Queen’s legacy as one of the most famous monarchs in recent history.
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