The Tangled Line of Succession to the British Throne

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
royal balcony after Prince Charles' coronation
(L-R) Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, Lady Louise Windsor, James, Earl of Wessex, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, Princess Charlotte of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince Louis of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Pages of Honor (including Prince George of Wales, second page from left), King Charles III, Queen Camilla and others appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023 in London, England. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on Sept. 8, 2022. Her death meant that her son King Charles inherited the throne and he was crowned on May 6, 2023. But there is a long list of royal relatives behind him in line for the throne, most of whom won't get the opportunity to become monarch.

The royal line of succession may be confusing to some, but it's become a lot more straightforward. Before the Succession to the Crown Act, passed in 2013, males were always given priority over females. So, although Princess Anne was the second of Queen Elizabeth's four children, she was in line for the throne behind Prince Edward, the third son and youngest child. However, the Act ended the system of "male primogeniture," so the monarchy is equally available to both sexes — the oldest child is now next in line for the throne, followed by the child next in age and so on. (This change applies only to those born after Oct. 28, 2011.) If the oldest child has children of their own, these take precedence over their brother or sister.


Queen Elizabeth herself was the child of a royal "spare," (George VI) who only took the helm when his older brother, King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936. Edward VIII had no children of his own. George VI had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, and no sons. Thus, Elizabeth inherited the throne from him and ruled from 1952 to 2022.

As we said before, Elizabeth's death means her oldest son, Charles, inherits the throne. Here is the line of succession as it stands right now, after Charles:

  1. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (Charles' elder son)
  2. Prince George (William's oldest child)
  3. Princess Charlotte (William's second child)
  4. Prince Louis (William's third child)
  5. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (Charles' younger son, William's brother)
  6. Prince Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (Harry's son)
  7. Princess Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor (Harry's daughter)
  8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York (the queen's second son and third child)
  9. Princess Beatrice (Andrew's elder daughter)
  10. Sienna Mapelli Mozzi (Beatrice's daughter)
  11. Princess Eugenie (Andrew's younger daughter)
  12. August Brooksbank (Eugenie's son)
  13. Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh (the queen's third son and youngest child)
  14. James, Earl of Wessex (Edward's son)
  15. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (Edward's daughter)
  16. Princess Anne, the Princess Royal (the queen's only daughter and second child)
  17. Peter Phillips (Anne's son)
  18. Savannah Phillips (Peter's elder daughter)
  19. Isla Phillips (Peter's younger daughter)
  20. Zara Tindall (Anne's daughter)