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The Tangled Line of Succession to the British Throne

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Duchess Kate
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018 in London. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The British royal family never fails to fascinate. Prince Harry's marriage to successful American actress Meghan Markle and the birth of their baby boy, Archie, captured people's hearts. But now that Harry and Megan have done a "Megixt" and moved permanently to the U.S., stopping official royal duties, does that affect his position in line for the throne? Since Harry was always behind any children his brother William has, he was already fairly far down the list. So how does it all work?

The royal line of succession may be confusing to some but it's gotten 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 his own, these take precedence over his brother or sister.

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Queen Elizabeth herself is 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 has ruled since 1952.

After her death, Elizabeth's oldest son, Prince Charles, is expected to inherit the throne. Here is the line of succession as it stands right now:

  1. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (Elizabeth's eldest son)
  2. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (Charles' elder son)
  3. Prince George (William's oldest child)
  4. Princess Charlotte (William's second child)
  5. Prince Louis (William's third child)
  6. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (Charles' younger son, William's brother)
  7. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (Harry and Meghan's son)
  8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York (the Queen's second son and third child)
  9. Princess Beatrice (Andrew's elder daughter)
  10. Princess Eugenie (Andrew's younger daughter)
  11. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (the Queen's third son and youngest child)
  12. James, Viscount Severn (Edward's son)
  13. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (Edward's daughter)
  14. Princess Anne, the Princess Royal (the Queen's only daughter and second child)
  15. Mr. Peter Phillips (Anne's son)
  16. Miss Savannah Phillips (Peter's elder daughter)
  17. Miss Isla Phillips (Peter's younger daughter)
  18. Mrs. Zara Tindall (Anne's daughter)
  19. Miss Mia Grace Tindall (Zara's elder daughter)
  20. Miss Lena Elizabeth Tindall (Zara's youngest daughter)

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