The Tangled Line of Succession to the British Throne

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
trooping the color 2018, royal family
Several members of the British royal family celebrate the Trooping the Colour on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in honor of the queen's birthday L-R: Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Savannah Phillips, and Prince George. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on Sept. 8, 2022. Her death means that her son King Charles inherits the throne. 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. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (Harry and Meghan's son)
  7. Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor (Harry and Meghan'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, Earl of Wessex (the queen's third son and youngest child)
  14. James, Viscount Severn (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)


Originally Published: Aug 27, 2020