Skip to main content

The British Royal Family's Line of Succession

The British royal family has seen some characters. I love to write about them.

On 8th September 2022 King Charles III and his Queen Consort Camilla ascended the throne.

On 8th September 2022 King Charles III and his Queen Consort Camilla ascended the throne.

The British Line of Succession

Queen Elizabeth II ruled over Britain and the Commonwealth nations from 6th February 1952 until 8th September 2022. Her successor King Charles III, in common with his ancestors, is the head of the Protestant Church of England. The line of succession was, for a long time, comprised solely of Protestants.

Until the 2013 amendment to the 1701 Act of Succession and the repeal of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, royal Roman Catholics and members of the royal family married to Roman Catholics were excluded from the line of succession. The amendment also reversed the policy of primogeniture. Royals born after the 28th October 2011 are no longer subject to the restrictions.

Here is a description of these pertinent portions of the 2013 amendment, available via Wikipedia:

...to end the system of male preference primogeniture under which a younger son can displace an elder daughter in the line of succession. Second, they wish to remove the legal provision that anyone who marries a Roman Catholic shall be ineligible to succeed to the Crown... the Prime Ministers felt that this unique barrier could no longer be justified.

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon and his daughter Margarita.

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon and his daughter Margarita.

The Current Line of Succession to the British Throne 1-30

These are the royals who rank at numbers 1-30 in the line of succession:

  1. William Duke of Cambridge. Heir Apparent. The eldest son of King Charles III and Diana, the late Princess of Wales.(William and wife Catherine are expected to be made the Prince and Princess of Wales in due course).
  2. Prince George of Cambridge. Heir Presumptive. The eldest son of William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Sussex.
  3. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. The 2nd born child of William and Catherine.
  4. Prince Louis of Cambridge. The 3rd born child of William and Catherine.
  5. Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex (Harry). Prince Charles and Princess Diana's 2nd child.
  6. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. Eldest child of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
  7. Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor (Lili). 2nd child of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
  8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York. 2nd son of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
  9. Princess Beatrice, Mrs. Edoardo Mappelli Mozzi. The eldest child of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York.
  10. Sienna Mappelli Mozzi. Daughter of Pss. Beatrice and Eduardo Moppelli Mozzi.
  11. Princess Eugenie, Mrs. Jack Brooksbank. 2nd born child of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York.
  12. August Brooksbank. Son of Pss. Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.
  13. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. 3rd born son of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
  14. James, Viscount Severn. Son of Edward and Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex.
  15. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor. Daughter of Edward and Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex.
  16. Princess Anne, Princess Royal. Only daughter of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
  17. Peter Phillips. Son of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips.
  18. Savannah Phillips. The eldest daughter of Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips nee Kelly.
  19. Isla Phillips. 2nd born daughter of Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips nee Kelly.
  20. Zara Tindall. Daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips.
  21. Mia Tindall. Eldest child of Zara and Mike Tindall.
  22. Lena Tindall. 2nd child of Zara and Mike Tindall.
  23. Lucas Tindall. 3rd child of Zara and Mike Tindall.
  24. David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon. Son of Elizabeth II's younger sister Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones.
  25. Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley. Son of David Armstrong Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon and Serena, 2nd Countess of Snowdon.
  26. Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones. Daughter of David Armstrong Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon and Serena, 2nd Countess of Snowdon.
  27. Lady Sarah Chatto. Daughter of Elizabeth II's younger sister Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones.
  28. Samuel Chatto. The elder son of Sarah and David St. George Chatto.
  29. Arthur Chatto. The younger son of Sarah and David St. George Chatto.
  30. Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The surviving son of Prince Henry and Princess Alice, Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Why Were Roman Catholics Excluded From the British Throne?

Animosity towards Catholics in Britain during the 17th century was widespread. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the suspicion that James I/VI's successor Charles I's French wife Henrietta Maria was working to revive Catholicism in England fuelled the resentment. The perceived negative association between absolute monarchy and the Catholic faith, as displayed in France under King Louis XIV, ensured that Catholicism had a dreadful reputation.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Owlcation

When Charles II died on 6th February 1685, his younger Catholic brother James ascended to the throne despite objections from the people and some members of parliament. His reign was short and ended in humiliation in late 1688.

James II/VII fled the country when the majority of his subjects lost patience with him forcing Catholicism into their lives. The bloodless Glorious Revolution saw disillusioned James sail away from the south coast to exile as his openly protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary Stuart and William of Orange, arrived in the capital.

Sophia, Electress of Hanover was the 1st Protestant in the British line of succession in 1701 when an heir was sought.

Sophia, Electress of Hanover was the 1st Protestant in the British line of succession in 1701 when an heir was sought.

The Protestant House of Hanover on the Throne

The 1689 Bill of Rights was issued at the start of the reign of joint monarchs William III and Mary II. In it, parliament set out the limitations for a constitutional monarch. The 1701 Act of Settlement cemented the rules for succession.

When Stuart Queen Anne's only surviving child, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, died in 1701, the truly legitimate and Protestant heir was found to be Sophia, Electress of Hanover, a granddaughter of Britain's King James I/VI and the matriarch of the House of Hanover.

She was in the mid-50s in the line of succession after an assortment of Catholic rejects. Sophia died just weeks before Anne in 1714, so it was her son Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, who ascended to the British throne as King George I.

The Future of the British Royal Succession

Since 1688 Britain has been ruled by Protestant monarchs. The Catholic Stuart dynasty's attempts to reclaim the throne in 1715 and 1745 failed, and they did not try again.

Before becoming King Charles III, Charles made it clear that he wants to be "defender of faiths" not the traditional "defender of the faith" as the head of the Church of England.

It's reasonable to assume that one day there will once again be a Roman Catholic ruler of Britain. Perhaps the royal may be of another faith.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Joanne Hayle

Related Articles