The British Line Of Succession: How Meghan Markle's Pregnancy Switches Things Up

Ata Owaji Victor
·5-min read
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

From ELLE

Following the announcement that Meghan Markle is pregnant, the royal line of succession is set to change.

The pregnancy, announced on Valentine's Day, means that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's second child will be Queen Elizabeth II's tenth great-grandchild. Although the couple made the decision to step down as senior royals last year, their children are still featured in the British monarchy's line of succession.

According to the official Royal Family Website:

'Succession to the throne is regulated not only through descent, but also by Parliamentary statute. The order of succession is the sequence of members of the Royal Family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne.'

Queen Elizabeth II is the current monarch, having reigned for nearly seven decades. Her firstborn child, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, is expected to rule after her and is the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in British history.

Here is everything you need to know about the royal family's line of succession:

Who is first in the line of succession?

Prince Charles is first in line to ascend the throne following his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

As the Queen's eldest son, and first in line to the throne, his reign will then be followed by his son, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and thereafter William's three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

Following the Cambridge children, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is next in the line of succession, followed by his son, Archie. Following Archie will be his younger sibling, on the day he is born, which will mean that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, will be pushed back to ninth in line to the throne.

Where are the Cambridges in the line of succession?

As the son of Prince Charles and grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William is second in line of succession.

Aged 38, it's unknown when he will be expected to ascend to the throne, especially given his father is 72 years old and may reign for several years if he does one day become King.

Photo credit: Comic Relief - Getty Images
Photo credit: Comic Relief - Getty Images

The Duke of Cambridge's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, are third through fifth in line to the throne, placing them ahead of their uncle, Prince Harry (this happened following George's birth in 2013).

It's expected that if George is to become King, he'll be known as King George VII. If the line of succession follows as it's expected to, it means that it's unlikely anyone alive today will see another queen on the throne in their lifetime, following Queen Elizabeth II's passing.

Princess Charlotte would only ever become Queen if her older brother predeceased her without having living children. This rule stands after the Queen changed the laws of succession in 2013 which means that the sex of a royal baby doesn't affect their plan in the line of succession. The Telegraph reports Charlotte is the first royal princess born 'within the direct line of succession since the Princess Royal in 1950, and is likely to one day inherit the title'. This title is usually give to the oldest daughter of the monarch.

As for Louis, he is fifth in line to the throne.

Kate Middleton, who gained her title of Duchess of Cambridge following her marriage to Prince William on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey, will stands as future queen consort alongside William when he becomes King.

Where are the Sussexes in the line of succession and is Prince Harry still in line to the throne?

Despite his decision to step away as a senior member of the royal family, should none of the Cambridges become King or Queen, Prince Harry will become the heir to the throne. If Prince Harry were to become King, Markle would become Queen Consort.

Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

The father-of-one is currently placed as sixth in the line of succession and his son, Archie, seventh in line to the throne. This will only change if the Cambridges welcome another child.

How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's second child affect the line of succession?

The couple's second child will be eighth in line to the throne, behind their big brother, Archie. As a result, on the day of the child's birth all royals who would've been in line to the throne after Archie will be 'bumped back' a place.

Following the birth of Archie, the Sussexes decided not give him a a royal title despite the fact he was entitled to 'a courtesy title', such as the Earl of Dumbarton which is one of his father's own titles and what he's known as in Scotland.

According to current royal protocols, royal children are not titled 'royal' by birth, as a result of a 1917 Letter’s Patent, decreed by King George V, which states that only grandchildren of the sovereign receive royal titles — not great-grandchildren.

In order for George, Charlotte and Louis to be titled 'prince' or 'princess', Queen Elizabeth had to issue a Letter's Patent declaring it so in 2012. The same was carried out for the likes of Prince Charles and Princess Anne by Queen Elizabeth II's father, King George VI.

However, when Prince Charles ascends to the throne, Archie could receive a title, as the grandchild of a sovereign, meaning we might one day refer to him formally as His Royal Highness Prince Archie. The same would happen for his future sibling.

Another adjustments to the line of succession came last week when Princess Eugenie, Prince Andrew's youngest daughter, gave birth to her son. The Princess' baby boy will briefly be placed 11th in line to the throne and will be pushed back to 12th position following the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's second child later this year.

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