The new royal baby is seventh in line for the throne. How does that work? Britain’s Act of Settlement in 1701 confirmed that British Parliament can determine title to the throne, and that a sovereign can lose the title through mismanagement.
The act established that only Protestant descendants of Princess Sophia (1630–1714), the Electress of Hanover and granddaughter of James I, are eligible to succeed to the throne. James I was the first king to rule over England, Scotland and Ireland after the Union of the Crowns in 1603. His daughter Elizabeth Stuart was Sophia’s mother. Sophia had seven children who survived to adulthood, but she died before she could ascend to the throne. Her son became King George I.
Succession laws exclude Catholics, although since 2013, simply marrying a Catholic doesn’t disqualify you. The King or Queen must be a member of the Church of England and swear to preserve the Church of England and Church of Scotland.
The 2013 Succession to the Crown Act also ended male primogeniture, so younger sons can no longer leapfrog their older sisters in line. (It applies to royals born after Oct. 28, 2011.) Instead, birth order now determines who’s next in line.
Children born to unmarried parents aren’t eligible for succession.
Line of Succession to the British Throne
Royal succession follows the firstborn and his eligible heirs until the line runs out. Then it goes to the second-born and that person’s eligible heirs. Before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s child was born, the current line of succession was:
- Charles, the Prince of Wales, eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II
- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, elder child of Prince Charles
- Prince George of Cambridge, eldest child of Prince William
- Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, second child of Prince William
- Prince Louis of Cambridge, third child of Prince William
- Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, second child of Prince Charles
- Prince Andrew, Duke of York, third child of Queen Elizabeth II (Remember that the law ending male primogeniture doesn’t apply to those born before 2011, including the Queen’s second child, Anne, Princess Royal.)
- Princess Beatrice of York, elder child of Prince Andrew
- Princess Eugenie of York, second child of Prince Andrew
The new royal baby is wedged into the list after Prince Harry, knocking everyone else down a notch.
Got Royal Roots?
Quite probably. As many as 150 million Americans have royal roots, mostly those with links to early New England colonists.
Some experts estimate that 80 percent of England’s population descends from one of the nine children of 14th-century ruler King Edward III.
Get everything you need to research your British ancestry with the British Genealogy MEGA Collection.
This post was originally published in October 2018. It has been updated to reflect the royal baby’s birth on May 6, 2019.